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Legendary sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, who spearheaded the worldwide spread of Indian music and had a major influence on Western musicians like The Beatles, died on 11th Dec 2012 in San Diego at the age of 92. Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999, 

A Bengali Brahmin, he was born Robindra Shankar on April 7, 1920 in Varanasi, the youngest of four brothers, and spent his first 10 years in relative poverty, brought up by his mother. He was almost eight before he met his absent father, a globe-trotting lawyer, philosopher, writer and former minister to the Maharajah of Jhalawar.
In 1930, his eldest brother Uday Shankar uprooted the family to Paris, and over the next eight years Shankar enjoyed the limelight in Uday's troupe, which toured the world introducing Europeans and Americans to Indian classical and folk dance.

As a performer, composer and teacher, Shankar was an Indian classical artist of the highest rank, and he spearheaded the worldwide spread of Indian music and culture, said writer and editor Oliver Craske, who provided additional narrative for Shankar's autobiography 'Raga Mala'.

Shankar achieved his greatest fame in the 1960s when he was embraced by the Western counterculture.
Through his influence on his great friend George Harrison, and appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals and the Concert for Bangladesh, he became a household name in the West, the first Indian musician to do so.

Shankar has authored violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal, music for Hosan Yamamoto, master of the Shakuhachi and Musumi Miyashita - Koto virtuoso, and has collaborated with Phillip Glass (Passages).

Harrison produced and participated in two record albums, "Shankar Family & Friends" and "Festival of India" both composed by Shankar.

Shankar also composed for ballets and films in India, Canada, Europe and the United States. The latter of which includes the films "Charly," "Gandhi," and the "Apu Trilogy".

A Magsaysay award winner, Shankar was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1986. Believing in the greatness of Indian classical music and blessed with charisma and intelligence, he pursued a dream of taking the music out to the Western world.

Between the early 1950s and the mid-1960s he became the leading international emissary for Indian music, first performing as a solo artist in the USSR in 1954, in Europe and North America in 1956, and Japan in 1958.
He developed a characteristic sitar sound, with powerful bass notes and a serene and spiritual touch in the alap movement of a raga.

The sitar virtuoso was responsible for incorporating many aspects of Carnatic ( south Indian) music into the north Indian system, especially its mathematical approach to rhythm. He also gave a new prominence to the tabla player in concert.

He was appointed Director of Music at the Indian People's Theatre Association, and later held the same position at All India Radio (1949?56). He composed his first new raga in 1945 (30 more would follow) and began a prolific recording career. Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999, The music doyen wrote a new melody for Mohammed Iqbal's patriotic poem 'Sare Jahan Se Accha'.

Family: Shankar married Allauddin Khan's daughter Annapurna Devi in 1941 and a son, Shubhendra Shankar, was born in 1942. Shankar separated from Devi  and had a relationship with Kamala Shastri, a danseuse, An affair with Sue Jones, a New York concert producer, led to the birth of Norah Jones in 1979. After separating from Kamala Shastri in 1981, Shankar lived with Sue Jones until 1986. He married Sukanya Rajan in 1989, whom he had known since the 1970s. In 1981, Anoushka Shankar was born to Shankar and Sukanya Rajan.

Shubhendra "Shubho" Shankar often accompanied his father on tours. He could play the sitar and surbahar, but elected not to pursue a solo career and died in 1992. Norah Jones became a successful musician in the 2000s, winning eight Grammy Awards in 2003. Anoushka Shankar was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2003. Anoushka and her father were nominated for Best World Music Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards for separate albums.

( Reference:  and Wikkipedia )


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