Born on 21 March 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar, Ustad Bismillah Khan learnt Shehnai-playing under Ustad Ali Bux who was attached to the Vishwanath temple of Benaras. He achieved wide fame after his first public concert at the age of 14 at the Allahabad All-India Music Conference. Over a long concert career Ustad Bismillah Khan has been acclaimed as one of the country's most popular and respected musicians. An instrumentalist of exceptional abilities, he has developed a highly individual style and has elevated the Shehnai to its present position in classical music. He has performed in prestigious festivals all over the world including the Festivals of India in France and the former Soviet Union. Ustad Bismillah Khan received the Padma Shri in 1961, the Padma Bhushan in 1968, the Padma Vibhushan in 1980, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1956. He has been conferred honorary doctorates by the Visva-Bharati University and the Benaras Hindu University. The Republic of Iran conferred on him the title Talar Mausiqee in 1992. For his contribution to Indian music Ustad Bismillah Khan is elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi.