Rest in Peace...
Indian iconic sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, who led worldwide spread of Indian music and performed to mobilise funds and global support for the liberation of Bangladesh, died early Wednesday in San Diego of United States. He was 92.
Shankar, who was unwell for the last several years, underwent a surgery on December 7 at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where he breathed his last, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
The composer was admitted to the hospital last week following complaints of breathlessness.
"It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul, passed away today," the sitar maestro’s wife and daughter, Sukanya and Anoushka Shankar Wright, said in a joint statement.
Ravi Shankar had recalled that his concern for Bangladesh's liberation was unique.
“In one day, the whole world knew the name of Bangladesh,” Ravi Shankar said in a book “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.”
“It was a fantastic occasion and I think it was the first of its kind. Now, of course, wonderful things are done, so many musicians are raising money for different causes. But the Bangladesh concert, I think, was the very first one”, the sitar wizard added.
Shankar was a Rajya Sabha member from 1986 to 1992.
A recipient of India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna in 1996, Shankar lived in both India and the United States.
He is survived by his wife; daughters Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar Wright, her husband Joe Wright, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
"As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away," the joint statement said.
A three-time Grammy award winner, Pandit Ravi Shankar had last performed in California on November 4 along with his daughter Anoushka Shankar. Both the father and the daughter were pitted against each other in the race for the same award next year.
A Bengali Brahmin, Pandit Ravi Shankar whose full name was Robindra Shankar Chowdhury was born on April 7, 1920 in Varanasi.
Shankar’s father, born in what is now Bangladesh, was a government official, a lawyer, an amateur musician. Before Shankar’s birth, Shyam Shankar left his wife to practice law in Kolkata and London.
The youngest of four brothers, he spent his first 10 years in relative poverty and was brought up by his mother.
He was almost eight before he met his absent father, former minister to the Maharajah of Jhalawar.
In 1930, Shankar’s eldest brother Uday Shankar shifted the family to Paris and over the next eight years the sitar player enjoyed the limelight in Uday's dance troupe which toured the world introducing Europeans and Americans to Indian classical and folk dance.
Through his influence on his great friend American singer-guitarist George Harrison, and appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals and the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden in New York, Pandit Ravi Shankar became a household name in the West, the first Indian musician to do so.
The sitar maestro has composed music for several films including Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy “Pather Panchali”, “Aparajito” and “Apur Sansar” as also “Paras Pathar”, “Debi” and “Jalsaghar”.
One of his most memorable performances was the music he composed to heighten the tragedy in a shot in “Pather Panchali” when Sarbojoya, mother of Apu, breaks down following the death of her daughter Durga. It had a unique cathartic effect virtually never seen in world cinema.
It is a measure of Shankar’s global appeal that at a party hosted following the release of “Pather Panchali” in the United States, an American woman came up to the sitar maestro and requested him to play that particular piece of music where Apu and Durga run after the sweet-seller. The incident was recorded in the diary of Ray’s wife Bijoya in her book “Manik and I”.
Shankar learned the sitar with Ustad Allauddin Khan, a musician who had previously toured with the troupe. He began playing the instrument publicly in 1939 and stayed with Khan for six years.
Allauddin Khan is the founder of the Maihar Gharana style of Hindustani classical music, and become well-known in India for his virtuoso sitar playing