Pt. Ravi Shankar

Pandit Ravi Shankar India’s most famous sitar maestro was born on April 7, 1920 into a Bengali Brahmin family of West Bengal. Son of an eminent barrister, he moved to Paris at the age of 10. His elder brother Uday Shankar was a renowned dancer of that time. Ravi Shankar started playing the sitar for his brother’s troupe.

In 1938 he started his formal training in sitar under his guru Allauddin Khan. After his training he went on to become the music director of All India Radio in the 1950s.

He performed in Soviet Union in 1953 and then he went to the west in 1956. His performances at the major events such as the Edinburg Festival and Royal Festival Hall resulted in his popularity even outside India and he came became known worldwide. Pandit Ravi Shankar has written town concertos and gave three memorable concerts – Monterey Pop Festival, concert for Bangladesh and the Woodstock Festival.

He has been associated with the composition of films and ballets in India, Canada, Europe and the United States, including teaching the sitar to George Harrison, one of the Beatles. He was nominated for an Academy award for his composition of movie Gandhi. He has also given music for Philip Glass’s Passages and Orion.

This legendary sitar player received many awards and honors from all over the world including fourteen doctorates and Disikottam. He has also been honored with the Magsaysay award, Padma Vibhushan two Grammy’s, the Fukuoka Grand Prize from Japan and the Crystal award from Davos, with the title of ‘Global Ambassador’.

This musical ambassador of India is an honorary member of the United Nations Academy of Arts and Letters and is also a member of the American International Rostrum of composers.

On December 11, 2012 the legendary Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away in San Diego at the age of 92. He was admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital after he complained of breathing difficulties. He breathed his last in the evening around 4:30 pm.

An official statement by The Ravi Shankar Foundation, said that “the maestro suffered from upper-respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery. Although the surgery was successful, recovery proved too difficult for the 92-year-old musician.”

The sitar exponent was responsible for making Indian classical music popular in the West. His classical music and collaboration with several international artists acquired him much fame and adoration all over the world.

Pandit Ravi Shankar is survived by his wife Sukanya Rajan and daughters, Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones, both popular musicians.