Sitar maestro and Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar passes away at 92 in San Diego

Pandit Ravi Shankar

A Magsaysay award winner, Shankar was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1986.

Believing in the greatness of Indian classical music and blessed with charisma and intelligence, he pursued a dream of taking Indian music out to the Western world.

Between the early 1950s and the mid-1960s he became the leading international emissary for Indian music, first performing as a solo artist in the USSR in 1954, in Europe and North America in 1956, and Japan in 1958.

He developed a characteristic sitar sound, with powerful bass notes and a serene and spiritual touch in the alap movement of a raga.

The sitar virtuoso was responsible for incorporating many aspects of Carnatic (south Indian) music into the north Indian system, especially its mathematical approach to rhythm. He also gave a new prominence to the tabla player in concert.

He was appointed Director of Music at the Indian People's Theatre Association, and later held the same position at All India Radio (1949-56). He composed his first new raga in 1945 (30 more would follow) and began a prolific recording career.

The music doyen wrote a new melody for Mohammed Iqbal's patriotic poem 'Sare Jahan Se Accha'.

Besides Bharat Ratna, he was also awarded the two other top Indian national civil honours - Padma Bhushan in 1967, Padma Vibhushan in 1981.

Shankar won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury at the 1957 Berlin International Film Festival for composing the music for the movie Kabuliwala.

He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1962 and was named a Fellow of the academy for 1975.

In 2001, Shankar was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Elizabeth II for his "services to music".

Shankar married his teacher Ustad Allauddin Khan's daughter Annapurna Devi in 1941 and had a son, Shubhendra Shankar. He separated from Devi in 1940s.

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