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Ravi Shankar



Ravi Shankar,  ( 7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012), born Rabindra Shankar Chowdhury, his name often preceded by the title Pandit ('Master'), was a Bengali Indian musician and a composer of Hindustani classical music. He was one of the best-known exponents of the sitar in the second half of the 20th century and influenced many other musicians throughout the world. Shankar was born to a Bengali family in India, 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.



Childhood & Early Life
·    Shankar was born on 7 April 1920 in Benares, British India, in a Bengali family, as the youngest of seven brothers. 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 JhalawarRajasthan, and used the Sanskrit spelling of the family name and removed its last part.
·     Shyam was married to Hemangini Devi who hailed from a small village named Nasrathpur in Mardah block of Ghazipur district, near Benares and her father was a prosperous landlord. Shyam later worked as a lawyer in LondonEngland, 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.
·     Shankar shortened the Sanskrit version of his first name, Ravindra, to Ravi, for "sun".Shankar had six siblings, only four of whom lived past infancy: Uday (who became a famous choreographer and dancer), Rajendra, Debendra and Bhupendra. Shankar attended the Bengalitola High School in Benares between 1927 and 1928.
Career
·    Shankar's parents had died by the time he returned from the European tour, and touring the West had become difficult because of political conflicts that would lead to World War II. 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.
·    Khan was a rigorous teacher and Shankar had training on sitarand surbahar, learned ragas and the musical styles dhrupaddhamar, and khyal, and was taught the techniques of the instruments rudra veenarubab, and sursingar. He often studied with Khan's children Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi.
·    Shankar completed his training in 1944.[4] He moved to Mumbai and joined the Indian People's Theatre Association, for whom he composed music for ballets in 1945 and 1946. Shankar recomposed the music for the popular song "Sare Jahan Se Achcha" at the age of 25. He began to record music for HMV India and worked as a music director for All India Radio (AIR), New Delhi, from February 1949 to January 1956.
·    Shankar founded the Indian National Orchestra at AIR and composed for it; in his compositions he combined Western and classical Indian instrumentation. Beginning in the mid-1950s he composed the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, which became internationally acclaimed. He was music director for several Hindi movies including Godaan and Anuradha.
·     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.

Major Work
·   In 1956 he 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 Beatlesguitarist George Harrison. His influence on the latter helped popularize the use of Indian instruments in pop musicthroughout 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. In 1999, Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna.
·   Shankar developed a style distinct from that of his contemporaries and incorporated influences from rhythm practices of Carnatic music. His performances begin with solo alapjor, and jhala (introduction and performances with pulse and rapid pulse) influenced by the slow and serious dhrupadgenre, followed by a section with tabla accompaniment featuring compositions associated with the prevalent khyal style.[8]Shankar often closed his performances with a piece inspired by the light-classical thumri genre.
·   In 1956 he 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 Beatlesguitarist George Harrison. His influence on the latter helped popularize the use of Indian instruments in pop musicthroughout the 1960s.

Awards & Achievements
·   Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1962)
·   Padma Bhushan (1967)
·   Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (1975).
·   Padma Vibhushan (1981)
·   Kalidas Samman from the Government of Madhya Pradeshfor 1987–88
·   Bharat Ratna (1999)
·   Ramon Magsaysay Award (1992)
·   Commander of the Legion of Honour of France (2000)
·   Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Elizabeth II for "services to music" (2001)
·   Honorary degrees from universities in India and the United States.
·   Honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
·   Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Melbourne, Australia (2010)
·   1964 fellowship from the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Fund
·   Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury at the 1957 Berlin International Film Festival (for composing the music for the movie Kabuliwala).
·   UNESCO International Music Council (1975)
·   Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (1991)
·   Praemium Imperiale for music from the Japan Art Association (1997)
·   Polar Music Prize (1998)
·   Five Grammy Awards

Personal Life & Legacy
·   Shankar married Allauddin Khan's daughter Annapurna Devi in 1941 and their son, Shubhendra Shankar, was born in 1942. Shankar separated from Devi during the 1940s and had a relationship with Kamala Shastri, a dancer, beginning in the late 1940s.
·   In 1989 he married Sukanya Rajan, whom he had known since the 1970s, at Chilkur Temple in Hyderabad. Their daughter Anoushka Shankar was born in 1981.
·   Shankar was a Hindu, and a devotee of the Hindu deity, Hanuman. As well, he was 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. 



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