Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, who is credited with popularising Indian classical music far beyond its borders, has passed away in a San Diego hospital at the age of 92.
The sitar maestro had been admitted at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego on 6 December due to complaints of diffculty in breathing and he passed away on Tuesday evening, the Hindu reports.
“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,” a statement from his wife Sukanya and Anoushka stated.
“We know that you all feel our loss with us, and we thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes through this difficult time. Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives. His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his music,” they said.
While he stormed Western culture with his collaboration with the Beatles, Shankar is perhaps the best known Indian classical musician beyond its shores.
Shankar was born on 7 April, 1920 in Varanasi to a Bengali family and in his youth studied music and dance, and even toured with his brother Uday’s dance troupe in India and Europe. When he turned 15, Shankar turned his attention purely to music and studied playing the sitar for the next seven years under Ustad Allauddin Khan.
He worked as the music director of All India Radio from 1948 to 1956 after which he toured Europe and America.
A musician as much at ease with his own genre of music as with others, Shankar’s collaborations with legends in other genres of music and his own contributions to Indian classical music are perhaps unparalleled.
His long association with George Harrison of the Beatles led to his performances in legendary concerts like Woodstock and Concert for Bangladesh.
Apart from concerts, Shankar can composed memorable scores for films like Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy.
In a decorated career spanning ten decades, Shankar has received numerous acknowledgements for his contributions to the world of music including the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, the Music Council UNESCO award 1975, the Magsaysay Award from Manila. He has also won three Grammy’s in the past and is even nominated for this year’s awards.
In 1986 the musician was also nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha and he has an academy in Delhi, which trains students in classical music.
An electric performer, Shankar played until November this year when he held a concert to mark ten decades of being in music. His daughter Anoushka is also a noted sitar player.