Ravi Shankar, 1920-2012

shankar-image2-articleLargeKnown as the unofficial ambassador for Indian classical music, renowned  composer and sitarist Ravi Shankar died Tuesday at the age of 92. He was born in Varanasi, India to a family of musicians and dancers. Trained in both Eastern and Western music, he and his ensemble built a large following for Indian music. He enjoyed mixing the music of different cultures, collaborating with flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, who named his son Ravi after him. In 1965 George Harrison of the Beatles began to study the sitar with him, which helped build a following for the sitar. Mr. Shankar also composed many scores for film music (including the film “Gandhi”), ballets, electronic works and concertos. Although popular here and abroad, his style brought criticism among Indian traditionalists: “In India I have been called a destroyer,” he said in 1981. “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.” Teacher, performer, composer, Ravi Shankar was considered “the most eloquent spokesman for his country’s music.” Read today’s New York Times obituary here, and check out the EPL catalog for his music.

Laura

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