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India sitar maestro Ravi Shankar dies

2012-12-12 07:06:49

Ravi Shankar

Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar has died in a hospital in the US, aged 92.

Shankar was admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego last week after complaining of breathing difficulties, reports say.

Shankar, who helped bring Indian music to the world, played at Woodstock and the 1967 Monterey Pop festival.

His daughters, sitar player Anoushka Shankar and Grammy award winning singer Norah Jones, are also acclaimed musicians.

Shankar - a three-time Grammy winner - and Anoushka had been nominated for the 2013 Grammy awards in the world music category.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Shankar as a "national treasure and global ambassador of India's cultural heritage".

Ravi Shankar popularised the sitar - a long-necked Indian lute - and gained widespread international recognition through his association with George Harrison of The Beatles.

Harrison once called him "the godfather of world music".

Shankar also composed a number of film scores - notably Satyajit Ray's celebrated Apu trilogy (1951-55) and Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982) - and collaborated with US composer Philip Glass in Passages in 1990.

He also collaborated with violonist Yehudi Menuhin and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.


Ravi Shankar

Talking in later life about his experiences at the influential Monterey Pop festival, Ravi Shankar said he was "shocked to see people dressing so flamboyantly".

He told Rolling Stone magazine that he was horrified when Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire on stage.

"That was too much for me. In our culture, we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God," he said.

In 1999 he was awarded the highest civilian citation in India - the Bharat Ratna, or Jewel of India.

Born into a Bengali family in the ancient Indian city of Varanasi, Ravi Shankar was originally a dancer with his brother's troupe.

He gave up dancing to study the sitar at the age of 18.

For seven years Shankar studied under Baba Allauddin Khan, founder of the Maihar Gharana style of Hindustani classical music, and become well-known in India for his virtuoso sitar playing.

For the last years of his life, Ravi Shankar lived in Encinitas, California, with his wife Sukanya.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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