"Ravi Shankar has brought me a
precious gift and through him I have added a new dimension to my experience
of music. To me, his genius and his humanity can only be compared to that of
- Yehudi Menuhin
"Ravi Shankar is the Godfather of World Music"
- George Harrison
Born on April 7, 1920, at Varanasi (also Benaras) in Uttar Pradesh into an
orthodox, well-off Bengali Brahmin family, Pandit Ravi Shankar is a Sita
Maestro and one of the most famed legends of the 20th century.
The legendary Sitarist and composer have contributed enormously to the
world music institution and has added numerous golden page to the history of
Indian classical music. The tune of this sitar crossed the seven seas. As
long time admirer, fellow musician, student and ex-Beatles guitarist, George
Harrison opines, " Ravi Shankar is the Godfather of world music."
Initially, Pandit Ravi Shankar made his foray into the world of performing
arts as a dancer (He had also danced in his elder brother Uday Shankar's
dance troupe), in due course of time took patronage in Sitar under the Ustad
Allauddin Khan (founder of the Maihar gharana of Indian classical music),
the architect of 20th century Indian classical music. Under the guidance of
legendary Ustad Allaudin Khan, Ravi Shankar had to undergo rigorous trials,
which resulted in the creation of another great legend - the Sitar Maestro
Pandit Ravi Shankar.
He began giving public recitals in 1939, ending his training in 1944.
He toured and wrote for films and ballet. He also began his recording
career around this time and worked with All India Radio followed - as
music director from February 1949 to January 1956 in New Delhi. At the
same time he was making his first steps towards international stardom.
In 1954 he performed in the Soviet Union. In 1956 he played his debut
solo concerts in Western Europe and the U.S. Within a decade he became
the most famous Indian musician on the planet.
Pt. Ravi Shankar has written two concertos for sitar and orchestra,
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 collaborated
with Phillip Glass (Passages). George Harrison produced and participated
in two record albums, "Shankar Family & Friends" and "Festival
of India" composed by Pt. Ravi Shankar. He has composed extensively
for films and ballets in India, Canada, Europe and the United States,
including Charly, Gandhi and Apu Trilogy.
Honors & Awards
Pandit Ravi Shankar has received many awards and honors from his own
country and from all over the world, including fourteen doctorates, the
Padma Vibhushan, Desikottam, the Magsaysay Award from Manila, two
Grammy's, the Fukuoka grand Prize from Japan, the Crystal award from
Davos, with the title 'Global Ambassador' to name some. He is an
honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a
member of the United Nations International Rostrum of composers.
Pt. Ravi Shankar's contribution to World Music is invaluable. A
classical musician, he has not been afraid to experiment, and his music
has influenced Western pop since the 1960's. As a testament to the
fervent interest in his music from hippie audiences, Shankar was invited
to perform at two of the '60s biggest rock festivals, Monterey Pop and
Woodstock. In the '70s, he also participated in Harrison's Concert for
The love and respect he commands both in India and in the West is
unique in the annals of the history of music. As a performer, composer,
teacher and writer, he has done more for Indian music as compared to any
other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing
Indian music to the West.
Shankar's daughters Anoushka Shankar, and Norah Jones are also talented
multi-grammy award winning musicians. Shankar married twice, and Norah
Jones and Anoushka Shankar are half-sisters.