Late Pandit Ravi Shankar was an internationally known Indian sitar maestro. As an exponent of Indian music and incomparable Sitarist, Pandit Ravi Shankar enjoyed great popularity all over the world.
Ravi Shankar received training in sitar from classical music exponent Ustad Allaudin Khan. His musical concerts always had an aesthetic appeal. The first Indian to compose music for foreign films, he made a notable contribution in popularising Indian music abroad. He opened Kiunara school of music in Los Angeles in 1967.
Ravi Shankar has received a number of prestigious awards and honours, both national and international. International Music Vensco Award, Silver Bear and Venice Festival Award, Magsaysay award are some of them. In 1976, he was elected a fellow of the Sangeet Natak Academy and in 1962 and 1980 was the recipient of Presidential Awards. He was also awarded Bharat Ratna (1999). Some universities in India as well as abroad have conferred doctorates on him. The government of India honoured him by nominating to Rajya Sabha in 1986. In 1999, he received the International prize for film and media music in Germany. His autobiography "My Life and My Music " is an extremely revealing document of his musical career.
He wrote and conducted orchestral music for ballet, set to Nehrus's 'Discovery of India' and the 'Festival of India' music with top musicians of Europe and America. During 1949-55 he served as the Director of Music, All India Radio. He also composed music for the welcome song of the IXth Asiad held at Delhi. In the 50's and 60's he toured, gave concerts and taught sitar all over USA and Europe
Even though he enjoyed many privileges in his career, his personal life was not so smooth. He was born on April 7th 1920 in Varanasi to barrister father Shyam Shankar and mother Hemanginee in a Bengali Brahmin family. He forayed into an artistic career in his elder brother Uday Shankar's ballet troupe, and after nine years left the troupe to pursue music under his mentor Baba Allaudin Khan in Maihar, Madhya Pradesh for 7 and half years. He married Annapurna Devi the daughter of his guru Baba Allaudin Khan in 1941. They had a son, Shubendra Shankar but the marriage soon ended in divorce. He got involved with American concert promoter Sue Jones and their union produced one daughter, 'Grammy winner' Norah Jones. Later he married Sukanya Rajan who was his admirer. Ravi Shankar spend his last days in California with his second wife Sukanya Rajan. Their daughter Anoushka Shankar followed her fathers lineage and became a Sitarist, and performed in concerts with her father. Anoushka's last concert with her father was on 4th November 2012 at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, California. Ravi Shankar succumbed to heart ailment at the ripe age of 92 on December 11th 2012 in California. Panditji will always be remembered for his innate passion for music, and for his role in popularising Indian Classical music in the world arena.