Previously he received three Grammy Awards.
He died on December 11, 2012 at the age of 92.He remained an influential figure like The Beatles in the Western musics, He maintained a dual residence in India as well as the USA.
He was born Rabindra Shankar in a poor Bengali Brahmin family on April 7, 1920 in Varanasi. He was the youngest of four brothers. His father whom he met almost at the age of eight was a lawyer, philosopher, writer and a former minister to the Maharajah of Jhalawar.
In 1930, his family was shifted to Paris and he remained there for the next eight years. He came to limelight while doing jobs in his eldest brother’s troupe there. During traveling the world with his brother Uday, he did a great job by introducing young Europeans and Americans to Indian classical and folk dance. Between 1950s and 1960s he was the leading international ambassador of Indian music. He performed as a solo artist in the USSR , Europe , North America and Japan from 1954 to 1958. He achieved his greatest fame in the 1960s when he was acclaimed by the Western music lovers. He was the first Indian artist to be a household name in the West after his appearance at the Montercy and Woodstock festivals and the Concert for Bangladesh.
He developed a unique sitar sound, with powerful bass notes and a serene and spiritual touch in the alap movement of a raga. He incorporated so many aspects of South Indian music into North Indian system and developed the mathematical approach of it to rhythm. He composed his first new raga in 1945 and began the journey of recording career thereafter. Shankar continued to perform till 2000s, often with his daughter Anoushka. He wore an oxygen mark (As he was suffering from respiratory problems) and performed at the California State University at Long Beach in the US on November 4, 2012 with daughter Anoushka. That was his last public show.
His friend George Harrison produced two record albums,( Shankar Family & Friends) and (Festival of India) both composed by Shankar. He also composed for ballets and films in India, Canada, Europe and the USA. He composed for the films “Charly”, “Gandhi” and “ Apu Trilogy”. He composed the new melody for Mohammed Iqbal’s patriotic poem Sare Jahan Se Achha.
He was appointed Director of Music at the Indian People’s Theatre Association and held the position at All India Radio (1949-1956). A Magsaysay award winner, Shankar was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1986. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999. He was awarded the first Tagore Award for cultural harmony, 2012 for his contribution and achievements in the field of culture.
Pandit Ravi Shankar’s autobiography : Raga Mala
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