Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia ; born 1 July 1938) is an Indian classical flautist , who plays in the Hindustani tradition.
Chaurasia was born in Allahabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. His father was a wrestler. His mother died when he was 6. He had to learn music without his father's knowledge, for his father wanted him to become a wrestler. He did go to the Akhada and train with his father for some time, although he also started learning music and practising at his friend's house. He has stated,
I was not any good at wrestling. I went there only to please my father. But maybe because of the strength and stamina I built up then, I'm able to play the bansuri even to this day.
Chaurasia started learning vocal music from his neighbor, Pandit Rajaram, at the age of 15. Later, he switched to playing the flute under the tutelage of Pandit Bholanath Prasanna of Varanasi for eight years. He joined the All India Radio, Cuttack, Odisha in 1957 and worked as a composer and performer. Much later, while working for All India Radio, he received guidance from the reclusive Annapurna Devi, daughter of Baba Allaudin Khan. She only agreed to teach him if he switched from right-handed to left-handed playing (so as to start over free from any pre-existing errement). Another version is that she only agreed to teach him after he (of his own) took the decision to switch from right-handed to left-handed playing to show her his commitment. In any case Chaurasia plays left-handed to this day.
Apart from classical music, he has made a mark as a music director for Indian films along with Shivkumar Sharma, forming a group called Shiv-Hari. He has collaborated with world musicians in experimental cross-cultural performances, including the fusion group Shakti.
He serves as the artistic director of the World Music Department at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory in the Netherlands. He was also the founder of the Vrindavan Gurukul in Mumbai (opened 2006) and Vrindavan Gurukul in Bhubaneshwar (opened 2010). Both of these institutes are schools dedicated to training students in Hindustani Bansuri in the Guru-shishya tradition.
He has collaborated with several western musicians, including John McLaughlin, Jan Garbarek, and Ken Lauber, and has composed music for Indian films. He has performed throughout the world, winning acclaim from varied audiences and fellow musicians including Yehudi Menuhin and Jean-Pierre Rampal. Chaurasia also played on The Beatles' 1968 B-side "The Inner Light", which was written by George Harrison.