His passion for music began when he first heard Vedic chants as a child in Benares. But it wasn’t his first commitment for his first commitment has always been dance. After he moved to Paris in 1930, he heard western classical music for the first time. Particularly, the work and guitar artistry of Andrés Segovia and the singing of Feodor Chaliapin.
Ravi Shankar (often called by his title, “Pandit“) immediately had his heart set on becoming a sitarist. He studied from the famous sitar teacher and performer, Ustad Inayat Khan. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Ravi’s history included his vision of bringing the sounds of the raga into western consciousness, thus merging eastern and western music for the first time. The Indian maestro seamlessly bridged the gap between the two so well that even George Harrison (lead guitarist of the Beatles) called him “the godfather of world music”.
As a sitarist, Ravi Shankar even achieved three Grammy awards for his work. How about that?
As a symbol of the music of India, as the man who gave George Harrison his first sitar lesson:
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As a person who transcended culture and race and geography, Ravi was a longstanding definition of a true musician.
On 6th December 2012 (Thursday), Ravi Shankar was admitted to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, San Diego after complaining of breathing difficulties. He died at age 92 on 11th December 2012 (Tuesday) at around 4:30 pm Pacific Time. His spiritual music will live on and he will never be forgotten.
Rest in peace, Ravi.