Pandit Ravi Shankar (রবি শংকর, Devanagari: रविशंकर, "Pandit" (Sanskrit, "learned") is honorific), born April 7, 1920, in Benares, United Provinces, British India is a Bengali Indian sitar player and composer; his family originates from East Bengal(later East Pakistan and now Bangladesh)]. He is a disciple of Baba Allauddin Khan, the founder of the Maihar gharana of Hindustani classical music.
Ravi Shankar is a leading Indian instrumentalist of the modern era. He has been a longtime musical collaborator of tabla-players Pandit Chatur Lal and Ustad Allah Rakha, and intermittently also of sarod-player Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. His collaborations with violinist Yehudi Menuhin, film maker Satyajit Ray, and the The Beatles (in particular, George Harrison) added to his international reputation.
In 1999, Ravi Shankar was awarded the Bharat Ratna award, India's highest civilian honor.
He is the brother of renowned dancer Uday Shankar, uncle of fellow Indian musician Ananda Shankar, and the father of singer Norah Jones and sitarist Anoushka Shankar, who were born in 1979 and 1981 to Sue Jones and Sukanya Shankar respectively.
Ravi Shankar then became well known to the music world outside India, first performing in the former Soviet Union in 1954 and then the West in 1956. He performed in major events such as the Monterey Pop Festival and at major venues such as the Royal Festival Hall.
After reaching pop cultural fame, Shankar was invited to play venues that were unusual for a classical musician, such as the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in Monterey, California, with Ustad Allah Rakha on tabla. He was also one of the artists who performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, and with George Harrison was one of the organizers of The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, in an attempt to raise awareness of the growing crisis (see 1970 Bhola cyclone, Bangladesh Liberation War and 1971 Bangladesh atrocities carried out by West Pakistan Army) that was occurring in East Pakistan (now independent Bangladesh) at the hand of West Pakistan Army where Shankar's family origins lay. Ravi Shankar & Friends co-headlined Harrison's 1974 tour of North America with mixed reviews. His final working album with Harrison was on a 1997 album, Chants of India, where Harrison grew an interest in chant music. After his colleague's death on 29 November in 2001, following a long fight against cancer, Shankar, his daughter, Anoushka, along with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, among many others attended Concert for George in London, where Shankar dedicated the memorial to Harrison.
Shankar has been critical of some facets of the Western reception of Indian music. On a trip to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district after performing in Monterey, Shankar wrote, "I felt offended and shocked to see India being regarded so superficially and its great culture being exploited. Yoga, Tantra, mantra, kundalini, ganja, hashish, Kama Sutra? They all became part of a cocktail that everyone seemed to be lapping up!" In 1969 he published an English language autobiography, "My Music, My Life".
Shankar has written two concertos for sitar and orchestra, violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal, music for Hōzan Yamamoto, master of the shakuhachi (Japanese flute), and koto virtuoso Musumi Miyashita. He has composed extensively for films and ballets in India, Canada, Europe, and the United States, including Chappaqua, Charly, Gandhi (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), and the Apu Trilogy. His recording Tana Mana, released on the Private Music label in 1987, penetrated the New Age genre with its unique combination of traditional instruments with electronics. In 2002, Ravi composed a piece for "The Concert for George." He did not play at the concert, but his daughter Anoushka led an ensemble of Indian musicians in the piece. The classical composer Philip Glass acknowledges Shankar as a major influence, and the two collaborated to produce Passages, a recording of compositions in which each reworks themes composed by the other. Shankar also composed the sitar part in Glass's 2004 composition Orion.
When he was based in Mumbai, Ravi Shankar taught a child prodigy sitar player Pandit Chandrakant Sardeshmukh. Shankar taught Sardeshmukh from the age of 8, from 1963 to 1976. He is the only common disciple between Ravi Shankar and Annapurna Devi. He is following in the footsteps of Ravi Shankar by promoting the Indian Traditions in Australia and Japan.
Anoushka Shankar started learning with him at the age of 10 and has already travelled with Ravi Shankar all over the world giving recitals in major European Countries as well as the United States.