Ravi Shankar

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Ravi Shankar

KBE
Ravi Shankar.jpg
Shankar performing at Woodstock in 1969
Background information
Birth nameRavindra Shankar Chowdhury
Born(1920-04-07)7 April 1920
Benares, Benares State, British Raj
(now Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Republic of India)
Died11 December 2012(2012-12-11) (aged 92)
San Diego, California, United States
Genres Indian classical music
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • composer
Instruments
Years active1930–2012
Labels
Associated acts
Website ravishankar.org

Ravi Shankar, KBE (IPA:  [ˈrɔbi ˈʃɔŋkɔr] ; 7 April 1920 11 December 2012), born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury [2] (Rabindra Shankar Chowdhury in Hindi), [3] his name often preceded by the title Pandit (Master) and "Sitar maestro", was an Indian musician and a composer of Hindustani classical music. He was the best-known proponent of the sitar in the second half of the 20th century and influenced many other musicians throughout the world. Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999.

Hindi Indo-Aryan language spoken in India

Hindi, or Modern Standard Hindi is a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language. Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, is one of the official languages of India, along with the English language. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of the Republic of India. However, it is not the national language of India because no language was given such a status in the Indian constitution.

Pandit Brahmin scholar or teacher of any field of knowledge in Hinduism

Pandit, is a Brahmin scholar or a teacher of any field of knowledge in Hinduism, particularly the Vedic scriptures, dharma, Hindu philosophy, or secular subjects such as music. He may be a Guru in a Gurukul.

India Country in South Asia

India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Contents

Shankar was born to a Bengali Brahmin family [4] [5] in India, [6] and spent his youth touring India and Europe with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study sitar playing under court musician Allauddin Khan. After finishing his studies in 1944, Shankar worked as a composer, creating the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and was music director of All India Radio, New Delhi, from 1949 to 1956.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe (Europa) is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Uday Shankar Indian dancer, choreographer, actor

Uday Shankar was an Indian dancer and choreographer, best known for creating a fusion style of dance, adapting European theatrical techniques to Indian classical dance, imbued with elements of Indian classical, folk, and tribal dance, which he later popularised in India, Europe, and the United States in 1920s and 1930s. He was a pioneer of modern dance in India.

Allauddin Khan, also known as Baba Allauddin Khan was a Bengali Indian sarod player and multi-instrumentalist, composer and one of the most notable music teachers of the 20th century in Indian classical music.

In 1956, Shankar began to tour Europe and the Americas playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Beatles guitarist George Harrison. His influence on the latter helped popularize the use of Indian instruments in pop music in the latter half of the 1960s. Shankar engaged Western music by writing compositions for sitar and orchestra, and toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s. From 1986 to 1992, he served as a nominated member of Rajya Sabha, the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. He continued to perform until the end of his life.

Indian classical music Classical music from the Indian subcontinent

Indian classical music is the classical music of the Indian subcontinent. It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic. These traditions were not distinct till about the 16th century. There on, during the turmoils of Islamic rule period of the Indian subcontinent, the traditions separated and evolved into distinct forms. Hindustani music emphasizes improvisation and exploring all aspects of a raga, while Carnatic performances tend to be short and composition-based. However, the two systems continue to have more common features than differences.

Yehudi Menuhin American violinist and conductor

Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin, was an American-born violinist and conductor who spent most of his performing career in Britain. He is widely considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. He played the Soil Stradivarius considered one of the finest violins made by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari.

George Harrison British musician and lead guitarist of the Beatles

George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Sometimes called "the quiet Beatle", Harrison embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles' work. Although the majority of the band's songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions. His songs for the group included "Taxman", "Within You Without You", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something".

Early life

Shankar was born on 7 April 1920 in Benares, then the capital of the eponymous princely state, in a Bengali family, as the youngest of seven brothers. [3] [7] [8] His father, Shyam Shankar Chowdhury, was a Middle Temple barrister and scholar from East Bengal (now Bangladesh). A respected statesman, lawyer and politician, he served for several years as dewan (Prime minister) of Jhalawar, Rajasthan, and used the Sanskrit spelling of the family name and removed its last part. [3] [9] Shyam was married to Hemangini Devi who hailed from a small village named Nasrathpur in Mardah block of Ghazipur district, near Benares and his father was a prosperous landlord. Shyam later worked as a lawyer in London, England, [3] and there he married a second time while Devi raised Shankar in Benares, and did not meet his son until he was eight years old. [3] Shankar shortened the Sanskrit version of his first name, Ravindra, to Ravi, for "sun". [3] Shankar had five siblings: Uday (who became a famous choreographer and dancer), Rajendra, Debendra and Bhupendra. Shankar attended the Bengalitola High School in Benares between 1927 and 1928. [10]

Varanasi Metropolis in Uttar Pradesh, India

Varanasi, also known as Benares, Banaras, or Kashi, is a city on the banks of the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, India, 320 kilometres (200 mi) south-east of the state capital, Lucknow, and 121 kilometres (75 mi) east of Allahabad. A major religious hub in India, it is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism and Ravidassia. Varanasi lies along National Highway 2, which connects it to Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra, and Delhi, and is served by Varanasi Junction railway station and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport.

Princely state Type of vassal state in British India

A princely state, also called native state, feudatory state or Indian state, was a vassal state under a local or regional ruler in a subsidiary alliance with the British Raj. Though the history of the princely states of the subcontinent dates from at least the classical period of Indian history, the predominant usage of the term princely state specifically refers to a semi-sovereign principality on the Indian subcontinent during the British Raj that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by a local ruler, subject to a form of indirect rule on some matters. In actual fact, the imprecise doctrine of paramountcy allowed the government of British India to interfere in the internal affairs of princely states individually or collectively and issue edicts that applied to all of India when it deemed it necessary.

Middle Temple one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, commonly known simply as Middle Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers, the others being the Inner Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. It is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

At the age of 10, after spending his first decade in Benares, Shankar went to Paris with the dance group of his brother, choreographer Uday Shankar. [11] [12] By the age of 13 he had become a member of the group, accompanied its members on tour and learned to dance and play various Indian instruments. [7] [8] Uday's dance group travelled Europe and the United States in the early to mid-1930s and Shankar learned French, discovered Western classical music, jazz, cinema and became acquainted with Western customs. [13] Shankar heard Allauddin Khan—the lead musician at the court of the princely state of Maihar—play at a music conference in December 1934 in Calcutta, and Uday convinced the Maharaja of Maihar H.H Maharaja Brijnath singh Judev in 1935 to allow Khan to become his group's soloist for a tour of Europe. [13] Shankar was sporadically trained by Khan on tour, and Khan offered Shankar training to become a serious musician under the condition that he abandon touring and come to Maihar. [13]

Maihar Town in Madhya Pradesh, India

Maihar is a town with municipality in Satna district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Maihar is known for the temple of the revered mother goddess Sharda situated on Trikuta hill.

Kolkata Capital city of West Bengal, India

Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the seventh most populous city; the city had a population of 4.5 million, while the suburb population brought the total to 14.1 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. Kolkata Megalopolis which comprises Kolkata Metropolitan Area and its surrounding areas Presidency division, Medinipur division and Burdwan division has a population of over 65 millions making Kolkata Megalopolis one of the largest populated areas in the world. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River approximately 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of the border with Bangladesh, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. The city is widely regarded as the "cultural capital" of India, and is also nicknamed the "City of Joy". Recent estimates of Kolkata Metropolitan Area's economy have ranged from $60 to $150 billion making it third most-productive metropolitan area in India, after Mumbai and Delhi.

Career

Training and work in India

Shankar at a meeting with Satyajit Ray for the sound production of Pather Panchali (1955) Satyajit Ray with Ravi Sankar recording for Pather Panchali.jpg
Shankar at a meeting with Satyajit Ray for the sound production of Pather Panchali (1955)

Shankar's parents had died by the time he returned from the Europe tour, and touring the West had become difficult because of political conflicts that would lead to World War II. [14] Shankar gave up his dancing career in 1938 to go to Maihar and study Indian classical music as Khan's pupil, living with his family in the traditional gurukul system. [11] Khan was a rigorous teacher and Shankar had training on sitar and surbahar , learned ragas and the musical styles dhrupad , dhamar , and khyal , and was taught the techniques of the instruments rudra veena , rubab , and sursingar . [11] [15] He often studied with Khan's children Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi. [14] Shankar began to perform publicly on sitar in December 1939 and his debut performance was a jugalbandi (duet) with Ali Akbar Khan, who played the string instrument sarod . [16]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Surbahar plucked string instrument used in the Hindustani classical music of the Indian subcontinent

Surbahar, sometimes known as bass sitar, is a plucked string instrument used in the Hindustani classical music of the Indian subcontinent. It is closely related to the sitar, but has a lower tone. Depending on the instrument's size, it is usually pitched two to five whole steps below the standard sitar, but as Indian classical music does not make use of absolute pitch, this may vary.

Raga Melodic mode in South Asian music

A raga or raag is a melodic framework for improvisation akin to a melodic mode in Indian classical music. While the rāga is a remarkable and central feature of the classical Indian music tradition, it has no direct translation to concepts in the classical European music tradition. Each rāga is an array of melodic structures with musical motifs, considered in the Indian tradition to have the ability to "colour the mind" and affect the emotions of the audience.

Shankar completed his training in 1944. [7] He moved to Mumbai and joined the Indian People's Theatre Association, for whom he composed music for ballets in 1945 and 1946. [7] [17] Shankar recomposed the music for the popular song "Sare Jahan Se Achcha" at the age of 25. [18] [19] He began to record music for HMV India and worked as a music director for All India Radio (AIR), New Delhi, from February 1949 – January 1956. [7] Shankar founded the Indian National Orchestra at AIR and composed for it; in his compositions he combined Western and classical Indian instrumentation. [20] Beginning in the mid-1950s he composed the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, which became internationally acclaimed. [8] [21] He was music director for several Hindi movies including Godaan and Anuradha. [22]

1956–69: International performances

Concert flier, 1967 Ravi Shankar flier front.jpg
Concert flier, 1967

V. K. Narayana Menon, director of AIR Delhi, introduced the Western violinist Yehudi Menuhin to Shankar during Menuhin's first visit to India in 1952. [23] Shankar had performed as part of a cultural delegation in the Soviet Union in 1954 and Menuhin invited Shankar in 1955 to perform in New York City for a demonstration of Indian classical music, sponsored by the Ford Foundation. [24] [25] [lower-alpha 1]

Shankar heard about the positive response Khan received and resigned from AIR in 1956 to tour the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. [27] He played for smaller audiences and educated them about Indian music, incorporating ragas from the South Indian Carnatic music in his performances, and recorded his first LP album Three Ragas in London, released in 1956. [27] In 1958, Shankar participated in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the United Nations and UNESCO music festival in Paris. [17] From 1961, he toured Europe, the United States, and Australia, and became the first Indian to compose music for non-Indian films. [17] [lower-alpha 2] Shankar founded the Kinnara School of Music in Mumbai in 1962. [28]

Shankar befriended Richard Bock, founder of World Pacific Records, on his first American tour and recorded most of his albums in the 1950s and 1960s for Bock's label. [27] The Byrds recorded at the same studio and heard Shankar's music, which led them to incorporate some of its elements in theirs, introducing the genre to their friend George Harrison of the Beatles. [29] [30] In 1967, Shankar performed a well-received set at the Monterey Pop Festival. [31] [32] [33] While complimentary of the talents of several of the rock artists at the festival, he said he was "horrified" to see Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar on stage: [34] "That was too much for me. In our culture, we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God." [35] Shankar's live album from Monterey peaked at number 43 on Billboard's pop LPs chart in the US, which remains the highest placing he achieved on that chart. [36]

Shankar won a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for West Meets East , a collaboration with Yehudi Menuhin. [37] [38] [39] He opened a Western branch of the Kinnara School of Music in Los Angeles, in May 1967, and published an autobiography, My Music, My Life, in 1968. [17] [28] In 1968, he composed the score for the film Charly .

He performed at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, and found he disliked the venue. [38] In the late 1960s, Shankar distanced himself from the hippie movement and drug culture: [40] [41] He explained during an interview:

It makes me feel rather hurt when I see the association of drugs with our music. The music to us is religion. The quickest way to reach godliness is through music. I don't like the association of one bad thing with the music. [42]

1970–2012: International performances

In October 1970, Shankar became chair of the department of Indian music of the California Institute of the Arts after previously teaching at the City College of New York, the University of California, Los Angeles, and being guest lecturer at other colleges and universities, including the Ali Akbar College of Music. [17] [43] [44] In late 1970, the London Symphony Orchestra invited Shankar to compose a concerto with sitar. Concerto for Sitar & Orchestra was performed with André Previn as conductor and Shankar playing the sitar. [8] [45] [lower-alpha 3] Shankar performed at the Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971, held at Madison Square Garden in New York. After the musicians had tuned up on stage for over a minute, the crowd of rock-music fans broke into applause, to which the amused Shankar responded, "If you like our tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing more." [47] Although interest in Indian music had decreased in the early 1970s, the live album from the concert became one of the best-selling recordings to feature the genre and won Shankar a second Grammy Award. [39] [44]

As for Shankar and the sitar, they are extensions one of the other, each seeming to enter into the other's soul in one of the world's supreme musical arts. It is a thing inimitable, beyond words and forever new. For, as Shankar explained, 90 percent of all the music played was improvised.

Paul Hume,
music editor, Washington Post [48]

Shankar's demanding tour schedule weakened his health, and he suffered a heart attack in Chicago in November 1974, causing him to miss a portion of the tour. [49] [lower-alpha 4] The touring band visited the White House on invitation of John Gardner Ford, son of US President Gerald Ford. [49] Shankar toured and taught for the remainder of the 1970s and the 1980s and released his second concerto, Raga Mala, conducted by Zubin Mehta, in 1981. [50] [51] [52] Shankar was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Music Score for his work on the 1982 movie Gandhi . [lower-alpha 5]

He performed in Moscow in 1988, and had first been there to play in 1954. [54] [55] His 1988 concert was performed with 140 musicians, including the Russian Folk Ensemble and members of the Moscow Philharmonic, along with his own group of Indian musicians. [54]

He served as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper chamber of the Parliament of India, from 12 May 1986 – 11 May 1992, after being nominated by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. [19] [56] Shankar composed the dance drama Ghanashyam in 1989. [28] His liberal views on musical co-operation led him to contemporary composer Philip Glass, with whom he released an album, Passages , in 1990, [11] in a project initiated by Peter Baumann of the band Tangerine Dream.

Shankar performing with Anoushka Shankar in 2007 Ravi and Anoushka Shankar 2007.jpg
Shankar performing with Anoushka Shankar in 2007

Because of the positive response to Shankar's 1996 career compilation In Celebration , Shankar wrote a second autobiography, Raga Mala . [57] He performed in between 25 and 40 concerts every year during the late 1990s. [11] Shankar taught his daughter Anoushka Shankar to play sitar and in 1997 became a Regents' Professor at University of California, San Diego. [58] [59]

He performed with Anoushka for the BBC in 1997 at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham England. [60] In the 2000s, he won a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album for Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000 and toured with Anoushka, who released a book about her father, Bapi: Love of My Life, in 2002. [39] [61] [lower-alpha 6] After George Harrison's death in 2001, Mr. Shankar performed at the Concert for George, a celebration of Harrison's music staged at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2002. [64]

In June 2008, Shankar played what was billed as his last European concert, [40] but his 2011 tour included dates in the United Kingdom. [65] [66]

On 1 July 2010, at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London, England, Anoushka Shankar, on sitar, performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by David Murphy what was billed the first Symphony by Ravi Shankar. [lower-alpha 7]

Collaboration with George Harrison

George Harrison, US President Gerald Ford, and Ravi Shankar in the Oval Office in December 1974 George Harrison, Gerald Ford, Ravi Shankar.jpg
George Harrison, US President Gerald Ford, and Ravi Shankar in the Oval Office in December 1974

Beatles guitarist George Harrison, who was first introduced to Shankar's music by American singers Roger McGuinn and David Crosby, [69] :113 who were big fans of Shankar, became influenced by Shankar's music. He went on to help popularize Shankar and use of Indian instruments in pop music throughout the 1960s. [70] Olivia Harrison explains:

When George heard Indian music, that really was the trigger, it was like a bell that went off in his head. It not only awakened a desire to hear more music, but also to understand what was going on in Indian philosophy. It was a unique diversion. [69] :114

Harrison became interested in Indian classical music, bought a sitar and used it to record the song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)". [71] In 1968, he went to India to take lessons from Shankar, some of which were captured on film. [72] This led to Indian music being used by other musicians and created the raga rock trend. [71] As the sitar and Indian music grew in popularity, groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Animals and The Byrds began using it in some of their songs. [54] The influence even extended to blues musicians such as Michael Bloomfield, who created a raga-influenced improvisation number, "East-West" (Bloomfield scholars have cited its working title as "The Raga" when Bloomfield and his collaborator Nick Gravenites began to develop the idea) for the Butterfield Blues Band in 1966.

I think Ravi was rather taken aback, because he was a classical musician, and rock and roll was really out of his sphere. He thought it rather amusing that George took to him so much, but he and George really bonded. Ravi realised that it wasn't just a fashion for George, that he had dedication. Ravi had such integrity, and was someone to be respected, and at the same time huge fun. George hadn't really met anyone like that, and he really encouraged his interest.

Patti Boyd [69] :119

Harrison met Shankar in London in June 1966 and visited India later that year for six weeks to study sitar under Shankar in Srinagar. [19] [38] [73] During the visit, a documentary film about Shankar named Raga was shot by Howard Worth, and released in 1971. [74] [75] Shankar's association with Harrison greatly increased Shankar's popularity and Ken Hunt of AllMusic would state that Shankar had become "the most famous Indian musician on the planet" by 1966. [7] [38]

George Harrison organized the charity Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971, in which Shankar participated. [38] [76] During the 1970s, Shankar and Harrison worked together again, recording Shankar Family & Friends in 1973 and touring North America the following year to a mixed response after Shankar had toured Europe with the Harrison-sponsored Music Festival from India. [77] Shankar wrote a second autobiography, Raga Mala , with Harrison as editor.

Style and contributions

Shankar plays the raga Madhuvanti at the Shiraz Arts Festival in Iran in the 1970s

Shankar developed a style distinct from that of his contemporaries and incorporated influences from rhythm practices of Carnatic music. [11] His performances begin with solo alap , jor, and jhala (introduction and performances with pulse and rapid pulse) influenced by the slow and serious dhrupad genre, followed by a section with tabla accompaniment featuring compositions associated with the prevalent khyal style. [11] Shankar often closed his performances with a piece inspired by the light-classical thumri genre. [11]

Shankar has been considered one of the top sitar players of the second half of the 20th century. [46] He popularised performing on the bass octave of the sitar for the alap section and became known for a distinctive playing style in the middle and high registers that used quick and short deviations of the playing string and his sound creation through stops and strikes on the main playing string. [11] [46] Narayana Menon of The New Grove Dictionary noted Shankar's liking for rhythmic novelties, among them the use of unconventional rhythmic cycles. [78] Hans Neuhoff of Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart has argued that Shankar's playing style was not widely adopted and that he was surpassed by other sitar players in the performance of melodic passages. [46] Shankar's interplay with Alla Rakha improved appreciation for tabla playing in Hindustani classical music. [46] Shankar promoted the jugalbandi duet concert style and claims to have introduced new ragas Tilak Shyam, Nat Bhairav and Bairagi . [11]

Recognition

Ravi Shankar in Delhi in 2009 Ravi Shankar 2009 crop.jpg
Ravi Shankar in Delhi in 2009

Indian governmental honours

Other governmental and academic honours

Arts awards

Other honours and tributes

Personal life and family

Shankar married Allauddin Khan's daughter Annapurna Devi (Roshanara Khan) in 1941 and their son, Shubhendra Shankar, was born in 1942. [15] He separated from Devi during 1962 and continued a relationship with Kamala Shastri, a dancer, that had begun in the late 1940s. [97]

An affair with Sue Jones, a New York concert producer, led to the birth of Norah Jones in 1979. [97] He separated from Shastri in 1981 and lived with Jones until 1986.

An affair with Sukanya Rajan, whom he had known since the 1970s, [97] led to the birth of their daughter Anoushka Shankar in 1981. In 1989, he married Sukanya Rajan at Chilkur Temple in Hyderabad. [98]

Shankar's son, Shubhendra "Shubho" Shankar, often accompanied him on tours. [99] He could play the sitar and surbahar, but elected not to pursue a solo career. Shubhendra died of pneumonia in 1992. [99]

Ananda Shankar, the experimental fusion musician, is his nephew.

Norah Jones became a successful musician in the 2000s, winning eight Grammy Awards in 2003. [100] Anoushka Shankar was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2003. [100] Anoushka and her father were both nominated for Best World Music Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards for separate albums. [101]

Shankar was a Hindu, [102] and a devotee of the Hindu deity, Hanuman. He was also an "ardent" devotee of the revered Bengali Hindu saint, Sri Anandamayi Ma. Shankar used to visit Anandamayi Ma frequently and performed for her on various occasions. Shankar wrote of his hometown, Benares (Varanasi), and his initial encounter with "Ma": [103]

"Varanasi is the eternal abode of Lord Shiva, and one of my favorite temples is that of Lord Hanuman, the monkey god. The city is also where one of the miracles that have happened in my life took place: I met Ma Anandamayi, a great spiritual soul. Seeing the beauty of her face and mind, I became her ardent devotee. Sitting at home now in Encinitas, in Southern California, at the age of 88, surrounded by the beautiful greens, multi-colored flowers, blue sky, clean air, and the Pacific Ocean, I often reminisce about all the wonderful places I have seen in the world. I cherish the memories of Paris, New York, and a few other places. But Varanasi seems to be etched in my heart!"

In his later years, Shankar became a vegetarian. [104] He wore a large diamond ring which he said was "manifested" by Sathya Sai Baba. [105] He lived with Sukanya in Encinitas, California. [106]

Shankar performed his final concert, with daughter Anoushka, on 4 November 2012 at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, California.

Illness and death

On 9 December 2012, Shankar was admitted to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, San Diego, California after complaining of breathing difficulties. He died on 11 December 2012 at around 16:30 PST after undergoing heart valve replacement surgery. [107] [108]

The Swara Samrat festival , organized on 5–6 January 2013 and dedicated to Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, included performances by such musicians as Shivkumar Sharma, Birju Maharaj, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Zakir Hussain, and Girija Devi. [109]

Discography

Books

Notes

  1. Shankar declined to attend because of problems in his marriage, but recommended Ali Akbar Khan to play instead. [25] Khan reluctantly accepted and performed with tabla (percussion) player Chatur Lal in the Museum of Modern Art, and he later became the first Indian classical musician to perform on American television and record a full raga performance, for Angel Records. [26]
  2. Chatur Lal accompanied Shankar on tabla until 1962, when Alla Rakha assumed the role. [27]
  3. Hans Neuhoff of Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart has criticized the usage of the orchestra in this concerto as "amateurish". [46]
  4. In his absence, Shankar's sister-in-law, singer Lakshmi Shankar, conducted the touring orchestra. [49]
  5. Shankar lost to John Williams' ET [53]
  6. Anoushka performed a composition by Shankar for the 2002 Harrison memorial Concert for George and Shankar wrote a third concerto for sitar and orchestra for Anoushka and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. [62] [63]
  7. This performance was recorded and is available on CD. [67] The website of the Ravi Shankar Foundation provides the information that "The symphony was written in Indian notation in 2010, and has been interpreted by his student and conductor, David Murphy." [68] The information available on the website does not explain this process of "interpretation" of Ravi Shankar's notation by David Murphy, nor how Ravi Shankar's Indian notation could accommodate Western orchestral writing.

Related Research Articles

Ali Akbar Khan Hindustani musician

Ali Akbar Khan was an Indian Hindustani classical musician of the Maihar gharana, known for his virtuosity in playing the sarod. Trained as a classical musician and instrumentalist by his father, Allauddin Khan, he also composed numerous classical ragas and film scores. He established a music school in Calcutta in 1956, and the Ali Akbar College of Music in 1967, which moved with him to the United States and is now based in San Rafael, California, with a branch in Basel, Switzerland.

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Anoushka Shankar is an Indian sitar player and composer. She is the daughter of Ravi Shankar and the half-sister of Norah Jones.

<i>Raga</i> (film) 1971 documentary film

Raga is a 1971 documentary film about the life and music of Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, produced and directed by Howard Worth. It includes scenes featuring Western musicians Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison, as well as footage of Shankar returning to Maihar in central India, where as a young man he trained under the mentorship of Allauddin Khan. The film also features a portion of Shankar and tabla player Alla Rakha's acclaimed performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

"Marwa Blues" is an instrumental by English rock musician George Harrison. It was released on his final studio album, Brainwashed, in November 2002, a year after his death, and subsequently on a single as the B-side of "Any Road". The song is a slide guitar instrumental and named after Raga Marwa, an Indian classical raga traditionally played at sunset. "Marwa Blues" won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Along with "Any Road" and the Brainwashed track "Rising Sun", it was also included on the 2009 compilation album Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison.

<i>Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000</i> 2001 live album by Ravi Shankar

Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000 is a live album by Indian musician and composer Ravi Shankar, released in 2001 through the record label Angel Records. Recorded at Carnegie Hall in October 2000 as part of a tour with Shankar's daughter Anoushka, the album contains five tracks and presents two ragas. The concert occurred sixty-two years after Shankar's first performance at Carnegie Hall and commemorated his eightieth birthday; the album was his first live recording in nearly twenty years. Full Circle was produced by Hans Wendl, mastered by Scott Hull, and mixed and engineered by Tom Lazarus. Featured are performances by Tanmoy Bose and Bickram Ghosh on tabla, and Anoushka and Ravi on sitar.

Ravi Shankars Music Festival from India album by Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India was an Indian classical music revue led by sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar intended for Western concert audiences and performed in 1974. Its presentation was the first project undertaken by the Material World Charitable Foundation, set up the previous year by ex-Beatle George Harrison. Long a champion of Indian music, Harrison also produced an eponymous studio album by the Music Festival orchestra, which was released in 1976 on his Dark Horse record label. Both the CD format of the Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India album and a DVD of their performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London were issued for the first time on the 2010 Shankar–Harrison box set Collaborations.

<i>In Concert 1972</i> 1973 live album by Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan

In Concert 1972 is a double live album by sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar and sarodya Ali Akbar Khan, released in 1973 on Apple Records. It was recorded at the Philharmonic Hall, New York City, in October 1972, and is a noted example of the two Hindustani classical musicians' celebrated jugalbandi (duet) style of playing. With accompaniment from tabla player Alla Rakha, the performance reflects the two artists' sorrow at the recent death of their revered guru, and Khan's father, Allauddin Khan. The latter was responsible for many innovations in Indian music during the twentieth century, including the call-and-response dialogue that musicians such as Shankar, Khan and Rakha popularised among Western audiences in the 1960s.

Tanmoy Bose musician & Music director

Tanmoy Bose is an Indian percussionist and tabla player, musical producer, film actor and composer. He has collaborated with Pandit Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar and Amjad Ali Khan, and created the musical group The Taal Tantra Experience in 2002.

I Am Missing You 1974 single by Ravi Shankar

"I Am Missing You" is a song by Indian musician Ravi Shankar, sung by his sister-in-law Lakshmi Shankar and released as the lead single from his 1974 album Shankar Family & Friends. The song is a rare Shankar composition in the Western pop genre, with English lyrics, and was written as a love song to the Hindu god Krishna. The recording was produced and arranged by George Harrison, in a style similar to Phil Spector's signature sound, and it was the first single issued on Harrison's Dark Horse record label. Other contributing musicians include Tom Scott, Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston, Ringo Starr and Jim Keltner. A second version appears on Shankar Family & Friends, titled "I Am Missing You (Reprise)", featuring an arrangement closer to a folk ballad.

<i>Chants of India</i> 1997 studio album by Ravi Shankar

Chants of India is an album by Indian musician Ravi Shankar released in 1997 on Angel Records. Produced by his friend and sometime collaborator George Harrison, the album consists of Vedic and other Hindu sacred prayers set to music, marking a departure from Shankar's more familiar work in the field of Hindustani classical music. The lyrical themes of the recorded chants are peace and harmony among nature and all creatures. Sessions for the album took place in the Indian city of Madras and at Harrison's home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, following his work on The Beatles' Anthology (1995). Anoushka Shankar, John Barham, Bikram Ghosh, Tarun Bhatacharaya and Ronu Majumdar are among the many musicians who contributed to the recording.

<i>Music of India: Morning and Evening Ragas</i> 1955 studio album by Ali Akbar Khan

Music of India: Morning and Evening Ragas is the debut album by Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, released in 1955. Issued on Angel Records, it is considered a landmark recording, being the first album of Indian classical music ever released.

Kamala Chakravarty is an Indian classical musician and former dancer, known for her association with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. From 1967 until the late 1970s, she accompanied Shankar, in the role of tambura player and singer, in a number of acclaimed performances, including the Monterey International Pop Festival (1967), his Human Rights Day duet with violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1967), the Concert for Bangladesh (1971) and the Music Festival from India (1974). She also lived with Shankar as his wife from 1967 to 1981, during which he was still married to musician and teacher Annapurna Devi.

The Asian Music Circle was an organisation founded in London, England, in 1946, that promoted Indian and other Asian styles of music, dance and culture in the West. The AMC is credited with having facilitated the assimilation of the Indian subcontinent's artistic traditions into mainstream British culture. Founded by Indian writer and former political activist Ayana Angadi and his English wife, Patricia Fell-Clarke, a painter and later a novelist, the organisation was run from their family home in the north London suburb of Finchley.

<i>Tana Mana</i> 1987 studio album by Ravi Shankar

Tana Mana is an album by Indian musician Ravi Shankar, originally credited to "the Ravi Shankar Project" and released in 1987. The album is an experimental work by Shankar, mixing traditional instrumentation with 1980s electronic music and sampling technology. Shankar recorded much of Tana Mana in 1983 with sound effects innovator Frank Serafine, but it remained unreleased until Peter Baumann, head of new age record label Private Music, became attached to the project. The album title translates to mean "body and mind".

<i>Ravi Shankar: In Celebration</i> 1996 compilation album by Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar: In Celebration is a compilation box set by Indian classical musician and composer Ravi Shankar, released in 1996 on Angel Records in conjunction with Dark Horse Records. The four discs cover Shankar's international career, from the 1950s to the mid 1990s, and include recordings originally released on the World Pacific, HMV, Angel, Apple, Dark Horse and Private Music record labels. Shankar's friend George Harrison compiled and co-produced the set, which was issued as part of year-long celebrations for Shankar's 75th birthday.

<i>Collaborations</i> (Ravi Shankar and George Harrison album) 2010 box set by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison

Collaborations is a four-disc compilation box set by Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar and former Beatle George Harrison. Released in October 2010 on Dark Horse Records, it compiles two studio albums originally issued on that label – the long-unavailable Shankar Family & Friends (1974) and Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India (1976) – and Chants of India, first issued on Angel Records in 1997. Although all three albums were originally Shankar releases, for which Harrison served in the role of music producer and guest musician, both Shankar and Harrison are credited as artists on the box set. Each of the collaborative projects represents a departure from Shankar's more typical work as a sitarist and performer of Hindustani classical ragas, with the box set showcasing his forays into, variously, jazz and rock, Indian folk and orchestral ensembles, and devotional music.

<i>Ravi Shankars Festival from India</i> 1968 studio album by Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar's Festival from India is a double album by Indian musician and composer Ravi Shankar, released on World Pacific Records in December 1968. It contains studio recordings made by a large ensemble of performers, many of whom Shankar had brought to the United States from India. Among the musicians were Shivkumar Sharma, Jitendra Abhisheki, Palghat Raghu, Lakshmi Shankar, Aashish Khan and Alla Rakha. The project presented Indian classical music in an orchestral setting, so recalling Shankar's work as musical director of All India Radio in the years before he achieved international fame as a soloist during the 1960s.

<i>Concerto for Sitar & Orchestra</i> 1971 studio album by Ravi Shankar with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn

Concerto for Sitar & Orchestra is a studio album by Indian musician and composer Ravi Shankar with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) conducted by André Previn. It was premiered at London's Royal Festival Hall on 28 January 1971, and subsequently released in Britain and America.

Kinnara School of Music

The Kinnara School of Music was a music school founded in Bombay, India, in 1962 by Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar. With his increased popularity and influence in the West, he opened a second branch of the school in Los Angeles in May 1967. Shankar's concept for Kinnara was to further the strict guru–shishya tradition of musical education that he had experienced under his teacher, Allauddin Khan, in the 1940s. The Bombay centre staged productions of orchestral works by Shankar, including Nava Rasa Ranga.

Shambhu Das is an Indian classical musician and educator. He is best known for his long association with Ravi Shankar, on whose behalf Das has acted as an ambassador for Indian music in Canada since the early 1970s, and his friendship with George Harrison of the Beatles, whom Das helped teach sitar in 1966. His assistance in Harrison's immersion in Indian culture helped inspire the Beatles' career direction and, due to the band's popularity and influence, the direction of the 1960s counterculture. In 1970, Das established the Indian Music Department at Toronto's York University, where he taught for four years.

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Bibliography