Ravi Shankar (Bengali: রবি শংকর Robi Shaunkor; born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury on 7 April 1920), often referred to by the title Pandit, is an Indian musician and composer who plays the plucked string instrument sitar. He has been described as the best known contemporary Indian musician by Hans Neuhoff in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.
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 America playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and 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 the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999, and received three Grammy Awards. He continues to perform in the 2000s, often with his daughter Anoushka.
nternational career 1956–1969
Tabla player Alla Rakha, who was a frequent accompanist of Shankar, in 1988
V. K. Narayana Menon, director of AIR Delhi, introduced the Western violinist Yehudi Menuhin to Shankar during Menuhin's first visit to India in 1952. Shankar had performed as part of a cultural delegation in the Soviet Union in 1954 and Menuhin invited Shankar in 1955 to perform in New York City for a demonstration of Indian classical music, sponsored by the Ford Foundation. Shankar declined to attend due to problems in his marriage, but recommended...