Ravi Shankar

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Ravi Shankar (Bengali: রবি শংকর; born 7 April 1920), often referred to by the title Pandit, is an Indian musician and composer who plays the plucked string instrument sitar. He has been described as the best known contemporary Indian musician by Hans Neuhoff in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.[1]

Shankar was born in Varanasi and spent his youth touring Europe and India 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.

In 1956, he began to tour Europe and America playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison of The Beatles. Shankar engaged Western music by writing concerti for sitar and orchestra and toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s. From 1986 to 1992 he served as a nominated member of the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999, and received three Grammy Awards. He continues to perform in the 2000s, often with his daughter Anoushka.


Early life

Shankar was born 7 April 1920 in Varanasi to a wealthy and conservative Brahmin family of cultured Bengalis as the youngest of seven brothers.[2][3][4] Shankar's Bengali birth name was Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury.[2] His father, Shyam Shankar, an administrator for the Maharaja of Jhalawar, used the Sanskrit spelling of the family name and removed its last part.[2][5] Shyam was married to Shankar's mother Hemangini Devi, but later worked as a lawyer in London.[2] There he married a second time while Devi raised Shankar in Varanasi, and did not meet his son until he was eight years old.[2] Shankar shortened the Sanskrit version of his first name, Ravindra, to Ravi, for "sun".[2]

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