103rd birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar
Pandit Ravi Shankar, a world-famous sitar player and composer, is widely recognized as one of the most important figures in promoting Indian music around the world. On April 7, his 103rd birth anniversary is being celebrated. He gained immense popularity among Western audiences for Indian classical music by collaborating with musicians from various parts of the world. His contribution to music was acknowledged by the Indian government, which awarded him the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, in 1999.
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Early life of Pandit Ravi Shankar
Pandit Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) was an Indian musician and composer who was widely regarded as one of the greatest sitar players of all time. He was born in Varanasi, India, and began his music career as a young boy, studying under his guru, Allauddin Khan. Shankar went on to become a prolific composer and performer, known for his mastery of the sitar and his ability to blend Indian classical music with Western music styles.
Shankar gained international fame in the 1960s through his collaborations with several Western musicians, including George Harrison of The Beatles. He was instrumental in introducing Indian classical music to Western audiences and was the first Indian musician to perform at major venues in Europe and the United States.
Throughout his career, Shankar received numerous awards and honors, including the Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna, which are among the highest civilian honors awarded by the Indian government. In addition to his musical accomplishments, Shankar was also an advocate for peace and cultural understanding and was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 92, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.
Pandit Ravi Shankar received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career, including:
- Padma Bhushan (1967): One of India’s highest civilian honors, awarded for distinguished service of a high order in any field.
- Padma Vibhushan (1981): The second-highest civilian award in India, awarded for exceptional and distinguished service to the nation in any field.
- Kalidas Samman (1986): A prestigious arts award given by the Madhya Pradesh government for outstanding achievement in the field of Indian classical music.
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1987): The highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists, conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama.
- Honorary Doctorate Degrees: Shankar received honorary doctorate degrees from several universities, including the University of Delhi, the University of York, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
- Grammy Awards: Shankar won three Grammy Awards in his lifetime, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, posthumously.
- Bharat Ratna (1999): The highest civilian award in India, awarded for exceptional service towards the advancement of art, literature, and science, and in recognition of public service of the highest order.
- UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador: In 1999, Shankar was appointed as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of his contributions to music and cultural understanding.
Other governmental and academic honours
- Ramon Magsaysay Award (1992): The highest honor given in Asia, awarded for exceptional contributions to public service, community leadership, and journalism, literature, and creative arts.
- Commander of the Legion of Honour of France (2000): The highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, awarded for exceptional achievements in the fields of arts, science, and culture.
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for “services to music” (2001): An honorary title given by the British government to foreign nationals who have made significant contributions to music, art, literature, or science.
- Honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters: An exclusive honor society of the most accomplished individuals in the arts, literature, and music.
- Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Melbourne, Australia (2010): Awarded for exceptional contributions to music and cultural understanding.
Several books written about Pandit Ravi Shankar, including:
- “My Music, My Life” – An autobiography written by Pandit Ravi Shankar himself, detailing his early life, musical training, and career.
- “Raga Mala: The Autobiography of Ravi Shankar” – A revised and expanded edition of his autobiography that includes additional material and insights from the later years of his life.
- “Ravi Shankar: A Life in Music” – A biography of Pandit Ravi Shankar written by music journalist Timothy White, which explores his life and legacy in depth.
- “Pandit Ravi Shankar: The Man and His Music” – A comprehensive study of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s music, written by musicologist Ashok Ranade.
- “Indian Music in Performance: A Practical Introduction” – A book co-authored by Pandit Ravi Shankar and George Ruckert, which provides a practical guide to understanding and performing Indian classical music.