Ravi Shankar International, world-renowned satirist. (1920-2012)
Early Life Ravi was born in Varanasi (also known as Benares), India on April 7, 1920 To put it into perspective… in that same year the traffic lights, Band-Aid brand, and the lie detector were all invented! Grew-up in a traditional Bengali Brahmin community Learned many traditional Indian instruments at a young age His mother died when he was 10 and shortly moved to Paris, France with his father and brother As a result of moving, Ravi… Received a Westernized education Was exposed to cultural and musical experiences Learned more than one language Indian photograph circa 1920.
Early Life Ravi graduated high school in 1938 and shortly after moved back to India Once in India, he decided to begin his formal musical training Became an apprentice under Ustad Allauddin Khan At that time, Ustan Allauddin Khan was one of the most renowned multi-instrumentalist composers in Indian classical music. While apprenticing Ravi Shankar devoted his time to mastering the sitar The sitar is a Traditional Indian instrument that has been around for hundreds of years. The sitar is an instrument that typically played sitting in the musicians lay by plucking either six of sever strings. However, some sitar’s can have up to 20 strings!
Rise to Fame Once his formal education had come to an end Ravi wanted to create a big name for himself in traditional Indian music He began preforming for multiple radios stations however it did not turn out as productively as he had hoped Next, he decided to try composing his very first music for Indian films and that was a huge success! “ Dharti ke Lal ” and “ Neecha Nagar ” After success in the film industry he was lured back into Western life and began traveling back-and-forth between India and Europe Subsequently, in the 1950’s, he produced one of his most famous scores in film The Apu Trilogy and was featured at the Cannes Film Festival This caused him to become widely recognized and increased his popularity in the India, the United States, and Western Europe!
The 1960’s: Shankar in High- Demand! Ravi’s music career was steadily increasing in India, however his popularity was even more amplified in Western cultures during the1960’s This became known as his most important and famous decade! In 1967 Ravi the Monterey Pop Festival and then, by popular demand, he also featured at Woodstock in 1969 During this decade he also collaborated with and educating George Harrison on how to play the sitar This friendship eventually lead to a once-in-a-lifetime experience of being able to preform with the Beatles He was even recorded and featured on their “Norwegian Wood” track! Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. Ravi performing at 1969 Woodstock event.
Criticized?! During the 1970’s Ravi’s popularity continued to rise the more he preformed and composed All of his hard-work paid off when in 1982 he received his first of many an Oscar nomination for his original composure in the film “ Gandhi ” Just when you thought he had tried it all, Ravi tried something new… exploring and adding electronic modifications to some of his music! America = popular! India = criticized! Indian traditionalists complained that this music was disgraceful to traditional Indian ragas and that it was not classical, purist Indian music. Shankar’s said that although he had begun exploring new techniques, his passion was always for traditional Indian ragas “In India, I have been called a 'destroyer.' But that is only because they mixed my identity as a performer and as a composer. As a composer I have tried everything, even electronic music and avant- garde. But as a performer I am, believe me, getting more classical and more orthodox, jealously protecting the heritage that I have learned.” -Ravi Shankar on his use of electronic modifications
His Last Days… By this point in time, Ravi was in his 70’s and 80’s so his performances became somewhat scarce Don’t let that statement fool you though… while he rarely had public performances anymore, his family said he stopped playing his stair at home! In California, late in December of 2012, Shankar peacefully passed away He left behind a noteworthy legacy of remarkable award-winning traditional Indian music and blended “East-meets-West” modern Western-Indian songs Did You Know! He has two daughters: Anoushka Shankar, a satirist reliving her fathers legacy in India, and Norah Jones, a Grammy Award-winning singer in America!
Major Accomplishments, Awards, and Nominations! Grammy Awards: Received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Grammys (2012) Full Circle (2001) The Concert for Bangladesh (1971) with George Harrison West Meets East (1966) Governmental Honors: A knighthood bestowed on him by Elizabeth II for his service to music (2001) Kalidas Samman honor from Madhya Pradesh for (1987) Nominations: Multiple Grammy nominations One Academy Award nomination Ravi Shankar’s Daughters Accepting His “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Grammys (2012)
“I try to give to my music the spiritual quality, very deep in the soul, which does something even if you are not realizing it or analyzing it - that's the duty of the music.” –Ravi Shankar
Resources (APA) Courtney, D. (2012, February 4). Biography of Ravi Shankar. Retrieved July 2, 2004, from http://chandrakantha.com/biodata/ravi_shankar.html. Ravi Shankar. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved Jul 02, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/ravi-shankar-9480456. Britannica. (2014). Ravi Shankar. Retrieved August 5, 2014, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/538559/Ravi-Shankar IndiaPost. (2013, February 13). Daughter’s Accept Dad’s Award. Retrieved August 5, 2014, from http://www.indiapost.com/daughters-accept-dads- grammy/