Washington/New Delhi: Sitar maestro and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar, described by
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a "national treasure", has
died in a US hospital. He was 92.
He had been admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla,
San Diego last Thursday after he complained of breathing
difficulties. He breathed his last at 4.30 p.m. Pacific Time
He is survived by his wife Sukanya Rajan and daughters Anoushka
and Norah Jones. He also had a son, Shubhendra Shankar, from his
first wife Annapurna Devi. Shubhendra died in 1992.
Manmohan Singh described his death as the passing away of an era.
He said in New Delhi Wednesday that Pandit Ravi Shankar was a
"national treasure and global ambassador of India's cultural
"An era has passed away with Pt. Ravishankar. The nation joins me
to pay tributes to his unsurpassable genius, his art and his
humility," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a message on
micro-blogging site Twitter.
Dubbed the "godfather of world music" by George Harrison of the
Beatles, Ravi Shankar was born in Varanasi. He 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.
A performer, composer, teacher and writer, Ravi Shankar is well
known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the
After finishing his studies in 1944, Shankar worked as a composer,
creating the music for the "Apu Trilogy" by Satyajit Ray and
Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi". For the latter film, he shared
with George Fenton an Oscar for best original score in 1983.
After working as music director of All India Radio, New Delhi,
from 1949 to 1956, he made Indian classical music popular in the
west in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his
association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison.
George Harrison produced and participated in two record albums, "Shankar
Family & Friends" and "Festival of India" both composed by Ravi
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 Rajya
Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat
Ratna, in 1999, and received three Grammy Awards. He was nominated
for a Grammy award for 2013 too.
Shankar continued to perform in the 2000s, often with his daughter
His main companion for decades was dancer Kamala Shastri. He also
had a relationship with New York concert producer Sue Jones, with
whom he fathered singer Norah Jones.
Son "Shubho" Shankar was also a musician who often toured with
him. He passed on the baton as it were to his daughter Anoushka,
also an accomplished sitarist.
On learning of Shankar's death, India's ambassador to US Nirupama
Rao tweeted, "Pandit Ravi Shankar. Mourn passing of a musical
genius and gentle soul. Attended his last concert Nov in Calif. He
played with such passion."
"His last concert was particularly poignant. Anoushka and he
played together in perfect unison. A torch was passed," she said.
"The music that I have learned and want to give is like
worshipping God. It is absolutely like a prayer," she quoted him