1920-, Indian sitarist and composer, b. Varanasi. He was the first Indian instrumentalist to attain an international reputation. As a youth Shankar was a noted solo dancer with his brother Uday's Indian dance troupe in Paris. In 1938 he became a pupil of the great Indian instrumentalist Ustad Allauddin Khan, whose daughter, Annapurna, he later married. Proficient on many instruments, Shankar became a virtuoso of the sitar
, and in 1957 he made the first of several concert tours of the United States. In 1962 he founded the Kinnara School of Music in Bombay (now Mumbai). For a few months in 1965, George Harrison of the Beatles studied sitar with Shankar, and Beatles
recordings began featuring Harrison playing the instrument. Other rock groups followed suit, and for a time the sound of the sitar was a staple of rock music. As the foremost interpreter of the instrument, Shankar was catapulted to fame. His 1967 concert tour of the United States was an overwhelming success, and he was invited to hold classes at various American colleges and universities.
Since the 1980s Shankar has explored the possibilities of merging Indian music with electronic synthesizer and emulator technology. He also has continued to compose ragas, tour worldwide in sitar performances, and produce recordings. Among Shankar's many musical compositions are the scores for the motion pictures Pather Panchali (1954) and Charly (1968). He has collaborated with such musicians as conductor Zubin Mehta in the performance (1989) of his Sitar Concerto and with composer Philip Glass in their electronic recording Passages (1990). Shankar also served (1986-92) in India's parliament. His daughter, Anoushka Shankar, 1981-, who studied with her father, is also a virtuoso sitarist.
See his autobiographies, My Music, My Life (1969) and Raga Mala (1997, repr. 1999); D. Ghosh, ed., The Great Shankars: Uday, Ravi (1983); John Musilli, dir., Ravi Shankar and Friends (video documentary, 1976).
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