Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitarist and composer is India's most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he has done more for Indian music than any other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. This however, he did only after long years of dedicated study under his illustrious guru Baba Allaudin Khan and after making a name for himself in India.
Always ahead of his time, Ravi Shankar has written two concertos for sitar and orchestra, violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal, music for Hosan Yamamoto, master of the Shakuhachi and Musumi Miyashita - Koto virtuoso, and collaborated with Phillip Glass (Passages). George Harrison produced and participated in two record albums, "Shankar Family & Friends" and "Festival of India" composed by Ravi Shankar. He has composed extensively for films and Ballets in India, Canada, Europe and the United States, including Charly, Gandhi and Apu Trilogy. Ravi Shankar is an honourary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a member of the United Nations International Rostrum of composers. He has received many awards and honours from his own country and from all over the world, including fourteen doctorates, the Padma Vibhushan, Desikottam, the Magsaysay Award from Manila, two Grammy's, the Fukuoka grand Prize from Japan, the Crystal award from Davos, with the title 'Global Ambassador' to name some. In 1986 he was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of Parliament. His recording "Tana Mana", released on the private Music label in 1987, brought Mr. Shankar's music into the "New age" with its unique method of combining traditional instruments with electronics.
In the period of the awakening of the younger generation in the mid 60's, Ravi Shankar gave three memorable concerts - Monterey Pop Festival, Concert for Bangla Desh and The Woodstock Festival. Mr. Shankar has several disciples and many of them are now very succesful concert artists and composers.
The love and respect he commands both in India and in the West is unique in the annals of the history of music. In 1989, this remarkable musician celebrated his 50th year of concertising, and the city of Birmingham Touring Opera Company commissioned him to do a Music Theatre (Ghanashyam - a broken branch) which created history on the British arts scene.
Perhaps no greater tribute can be paid to this genius than the words of his colleagues:
"Ravi Shankar has brought me a precious gift and through him I have added a new dimension to my experience of music. To me, his genius and his humanity can only be compared to that of MOZART'S."
- Yehudi Menuhin
"Ravi Shankar is the Godfather of World Music"
- George Harrison