Daud Khan Sadozai was born in Kabul to a family of music lovers who patronized the arts in the Afghan capital. Upon hearing the rubab on the waves of Radio Afghanistan at home, he took a growing interest in the instrument, and at 17 got accepted among the disciples of Ustad Mohammad Omar, the “Sultan of Rubab”; the maestro celebrated for greatly developing the art of rubab into a soloist instrument with its own classical repertoire, as well as interpreting folk melodies from the whole country in a unique, beautiful style.

The knowledge of playing the rubab, as well as the fine-tuning of its finest elements has become rare, and only a few artists keep the tradition of the classical rubab pioneered by Ustad Mohammad Omar in Kabul. Daud Khan has dedicated his life to preserving the authentic style of his master’s school.

After the demise of Ustad Mohammad Omar, he went from engineering studies in Germany where he established himself to Delhi, with the absolute wish to devote himself to music and study the Indian sarod with one of its greatest masters, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, whose forefathers came from Afghanistan with the rubab and created the modern sarod. After years of dedicated apprenticeship, he was honoured twice with the Hafiz Ali Khan Award (1988/1995) in India and received the title of Ustad (“Master”) from Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

Daud Khan is performing all over Europe and beyond, in solo concerts, festivals or within ensembles with other renowned artists: regularly featured artist in Jordi Savall’s ensembles, he has also done many tours in Europe and the USA with singers such as Ustad Mahwash or Sima Bina. He has performed in many prestigious halls, including in the last years the Philarmonie de Paris, the Barbican Hall in London, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, the Alhambra in Geneva, the Mevlana Kültür Merkezi in Konya, the Göteborgs Konserthus, the  Mehrangarch Fort in Jodhpur, the Opéra de Rennes, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music…

Dedicated to the transmission and preservation of the original Afghan art music and the style of his gharana, he trains students of all origins, captured by the magic of these instruments and their wonderful music. He is regularly teaching classes and seminars across Europe (such as the Labyrinth Musical Workshops of Ross Daly in Greece, Italy, Spain…).

“The history of Indian and Afghan music, in particular classical music, is closely related. Indian music is a big ocean, and Afghanistan is one of its affluent. There used to be no border between the two countries. Many Afghan musicians went to India, and many important musician lineages came to Kabul from India around the end of the 19th century. The classical music styles of both countries are very similar. But Afghanistan has its own taste of folk music, with its specific rhythms, melodies and dances.”

Daud Khan has never returned to Kabul, although keeping close ties with musicians and instrument makers there. When playing the rubab, he draws a vivid inspiration from his unspoiled memories of beautiful gardens and places, of a simple but rich life. Ustad Mohammad Omar was a kind and humble yet demanding teacher, expecting sincere dedication from his students. There was no learning possible without adab, or proper attitude and respect, and the school of music was also a school of life rooted in the teachings of spiritual masters.

“Ustad Mohammad Omar used to say: “You should never dishonour music”. In other words, you should be cautious of the places where you go and play. He gave me the key to Afghan music and taught me how to keep the tradition. It seems important to me that people recognise through music that Afghanistan is not merely a land of war and corruption, but that there exists profound culture, art and spirituality among the Afghan people. “

Ustad Daud Khan and his son Dorran Ahmad