Ahmed Jan Thirakwa Khan was an Indian tabla player, commonly considered the preeminent soloist among tabla players of the 20th century, and among the most influential percussionists in the history of Indian classical music. He was known for his mastery of the fingering techniques and aesthetic values of various tabla styles, technical virtuosity, formidable stage presence, and soulful musicality. While he had command over the traditional tabla repertoire of various gharanas, he was also distinguished by the way in which he brought together these diverse compositions, his reinterpretation of traditional methods of improvisation, and his own compositions. His solo recitals were of the first to elevate the art of playing tabla solo to an art in its own right in the popular mind. His style of playing influenced many generations of tabla players. Ahmed Jan Thirakwa was born to a musical family in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. He started vocal music lessons at an early age under Ustad Mithoo Khan. He also had some sarangi lessons from his father Hussain Bux. Ahmed Jan was really drawn to the art of tabla playing when he heard Ustad Munir Khan. He took his early lessons from his uncles Sher Khan, Faiyaz Khan and Bashwa Khan. Thirakwa became a student of Ustad Munir Khan at the age of 12. Since then, he put His heart to his riyaz (practice). His Guru, Ustad Munir Khan, made him practice nearly 16 hours a day with half-hour breaks every know and then. Thirakwa had barely six hours to sleep. He acquired his nickname in an interesting manner. It is said that Thirakwa's devoted practice and natural talent pleased Ustad Munir Khan so much that Thirakwa became his favourite disciple. Munir Khan's father, Kale Khan used to watch Thirakwa play. One day Kale Khan remarked how nicely his son's pupil's fingers danced on the drum. This earned him the nickname ‘thirakwa’ (shimmering). It is also rumored that his tone was similar to the thunderous cracking sound of lightning. A great lightning is sometimes described as thirakwa. In popular jargon, Ahmad Jaan Thirakwa is termed as the "Mount Everest of Tabliyas". Thirakwa's debut performance was in Khetwadi, Mumbai, at the age of 16. From then on he became one of the busiest artists in North India. In 1936 he was appointed a court-musician of Rampur. In his 30 years of service he accompanied the greatest musicians of his time. After his service, he went to Lucknow, Bhatkhande College of Music. He became professor and Head of the faculty of tabla. Even after he retired, he was closely associated with this institution as Professor Emeritus. Thirakwa was able to play material from all the different gharanas. He belongs to the Laliyana parampara of the Farukhabad gharana. (Some suggest that this parampara deserves to be considered a separate gharana.) Other Laliyana musicians are Ustad Amir Hussain (nephew of Munir Khan), Ustad Nizamuddin Khan, Ghulam Hussain, Shamsuddin and Nikhil Ghosh. The romantic and serene moods that Thirakwa was able to express with his playing, were unbelievable. Audiences would sit engrossed in his solos for as long as he wished to play. He kept on doing his riyaz and the standard of his playing was unbelievable right up until the end.