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Ravi Shankar Biography

Home > Music > S > Shankar, Ravi > Biography

Birth Name: Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury
Born: 1920/04/07
Birth Place: Varanasi, United Provinces, British Raj
Years Active: 1939–2012
Genres: Hindustani Classical Music

Ravi Shankar, KBE (, 7 April 192011 December 2012), often referred to by the title Pandit, was an Indian musician and composer who played the sitar. He has been described as the best-known contemporary Indian musician.

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 the Americas playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and rock artist 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 Rajya Sabha, the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999, and received three Grammy Awards. He continued to perform in the 2000s, sometimes with his younger daughter, Anoushka. He was posthumously awarded two Grammy awards in 2013, one for lifetime achievement, another for "The Living Room Sessions Part 1" in the world music category.