Pandit Ravi Shankar
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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
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
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
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ and Wikkipedia )