Toss Levy lives in Warmenhuizen, a town in the Dutch province of North Holland & maintains & restores Indian musical instruments. He wrote us about how he came to this…
“I was turned onto Indian music from George Harrison with “Within you and Without you” back in I believe 1967. I was then 12 . A few years later I discovered Indian classical music and immediately realised this is what I was destined to follow… the path of Indian music.”
“I went to India in the early 70’s with the magic bus ( 60 pounds one way London-Delhi!) and came back with 2 sitars and no shoes… those were the days.”
“Since then Indian music has been the red line running through my life. I moved to Holland and started lessons on sitar for 3 years with the late Jamaluddin Bhartiya, one of Ravi Shankars top students. I switched to tabla and within a couple of years was accompanying him in concerts. He was a Sufi at heart and I learnt through him in my view the emotional essence of the music.”
“I went on to study tabla under Latief Ahmed Khan and Ustad Fiyaz Khan, both from the Delhi gharana. I got my degree for tabla and secondary subject sitar at the Rotterdam Conservatorium in 1995. I have played concerts with other great artists such as Uday Bhawalker, Lakshmi Shankar, Prince Rama Varma and Roshan Jamal, and besides many European lands have also had concerts in New York , the Middle East and India. As one of the five co-founders of ISTAR Nederland, with Professors Joep Bor and Wim van der Meer, we were responsible for the start of the Indian Music course at the World Music Department of the Rotterdam Conservatorium.”
“I have in all these years acquired a lot of experience giving workshops and lessons in Indian music, and about the Indian instruments themselves. I gave a lecture at the India Instituut and demonstrations at the Tropical Museum, both in Amsterdam.
I have also been involved with the repair and restoration of Indian instruments for almost 40 years and have had several trips to India for this purpose. Having sat with some great builders and musicians to learn the trade, I feel I have accomplished a true understanding of the requirements for the special Indian sound quality production and its possibilities.”
About his web site he writes…
“You will read about the meaning and the profound importance of the sound quality and the process of jawari (the filing of the bridge from where the main sound and overtones are produced). Also you will find a history of the origin of the flat bridge, jawari and its development.”
“I have looked into the tanpura, the drone instrument that supplies the backbone to all Indian music. Its history, building of the tanpura and basic will be found here. Information about playing positions and techniques can be found here too.”
“Studying tabla and sitar at the Rotterdam’s Conservatory in the early 90’s, I wrote my thesis on tabla. I will also share some interesting parts from this paper.”
“And as a service I will explain some basic instrument maintenance. It’s for those of you who are new to the instruments so you understand a little more how to care for them.”
We will be publishing articles by Toss & in the meantime you can enjoy his web site TossLevy.nl
Read a review of a 1980 LP by Jamaluddin Bhartiya (with downloadable tracks) from the excellent Anthems for the Nation of Luobaniya.