Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pandit Ravi Shankar is no more - End of an epoch of Hindustani classical music

Indian sitar virtuoso Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar dies at 92. “With an instrument perplexing to most Westerners, Ravi Shankar helped connect the world through music. The sitar virtuoso hobnobbed with the Beatles, became a hippie musical icon and spearheaded the first rock benefit concert as he introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over nearly a century.From George Harrison to John Coltrane, from Yehudi Menuhin to David Crosby, his connections reflected music's universality, though a gap persisted between Shankar and many Western fans. Sometimes they mistook tuning for tunes, while he stood aghast at displays like Jimi Hendrix's burning guitar.” With the death of Pandit Ravi Shankar, passes an era of Hindustani classical music - an era which saw the Indian musical artform going global in the true sense of the word. Ravi Shankar, born as Robindro Shounkor Chowdhury to a Bengali Brahmin family in Varanasi in 1920, was the last of the surviving ambassadors of that movement. A recepient of the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, the Music Council UNESCO award 1975, the Magsaysay Award from Manila. He won three Grammy awards and is presently nominated for his last album, a record recorded at his residence in the US. He was also nominated for an Oscar for his musical score for the movie Gandhi. Shankar also wrote three books: two in English, My Music, My Life and Raga Mala (the latter an autobiography), and Raag Anurag in Bengali. The legendary sitar artiste died today at a hospital in San Diego in the US.

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