Born: April 7, 1920 | Died: December 11, 2012 Primary Instrument: Sitar
Ravi Shankar- Sitar
Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitarist and composer is India's most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he has done more for Indian music than any other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. This however, he did only after long years of dedicated study under his illustrious guru Baba Allaudin Khan and after making a name for himself in India.
Always ahead of his time, 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 Ravi Shankar. He has composed extensively for films and Ballets in India, Canada, Europe and the United States, including Charly, Gandhi and Apu Trilogy. Ravi Shankar is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a member of the United Nations International Rostrum of composers. He has received many awards and honors from his own country and from all over the world, including fourteen doctorates, the Bharat Ratna, 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. In 1986 he was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of Parliament. His recording Tana Mana, released on the private Music label in 1987, brought Mr. Shankar's music into the New age with its unique method of combining traditional instruments with electronics.
In the period of the awakening of the younger generation in the mid 60's, Ravi Shankar gave three memorable concerts - Monterey Pop Festival, Concert for Bangla Desh and The Woodstock Festival. Mr. Shankar has several disciples whichare now very successful concert artists and composers.
In 1989, he toured Europe and India with Zubin Mehta and the European Youth Orchestra. Shankar also composed and performed in a musical theater piece, Ghanashyam, in Britain in 1989 and India in 1991, and collaborated with Phillip Glass on Passages in 1990. Even into the new millennium, he continued to write, perform, and tour.
The Ravi Shankar Foundation in California and The Ravi Shankar Centre in New Delhi (also known as RIMPA) have been established to collect, document and archive the vast works of Ravi Shankar, which are fragmented all over the world. They are also committed to posterity the artistic and creative energy that this unique musician has still to offer. It is a dedication to awaken the consciousness of people to help towards the preservation of the diversity of cultures and richness of their art and the aesthetic and ancient traditions of the past and present. The dream is to support the freedom of artistic creativity and to help in the collaboration and exploration of world music, performing arts and work for universal Peace and Harmony through music.
The core of Ravi Shankar’s music has been the spirituality, which instantly touches the listener. It is 76 years when this son of India went on foreign soil and since then this musical messiah has worked tirelessly to take the great music of his country to every corner of the earth. In 1985 when Ravi Shankar received his doctorate from Cal Arts, the citation read,
“ Ravi Shankar musician to the world � whose rare genius has opened the ears and minds of millions to the wondrous aesthetic of India’s ancient musical tradition � adored musical ambassador whose incomparable artistry has created bridges of understanding among the peoples of the earth.”