Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Shankar, Ravi
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

(Robindra Shankar Chowdhury), 1920–2012, Indian sitarist and composer, b. Varanasi. He was the first Indian instrumentalist to attain an international reputation and is credited with introducing traditional Indian music to the West. As a youth Shankar was a noted solo dancer with his brother Uday's Indian dance troupe in Paris, and he studied (1938–45) with the instrumentalist Ustad Allauddin Khan, whose daughter, Annapurna, he later married. Proficient on many instruments, Shankar became a virtuoso of the sitar, and in 1957 he made the first of several concert tours of the United States. In 1962 he founded the Kinnara School of Music in Mumbai. George Harrison of the Beatles studied (1965) sitar with Shankar, and the band's recordings began featuring the instrument. Other rock groups followed suit, and for a time the sitar was a rock instrument. As the foremost sitar player, Shankar was catapulted to fame. His 1967 concert tour of the United States was a great success, and he was invited to hold classes at U.S. colleges and universities.

From the 1980s on Shankar also explored the possibilities of merging Indian music with electronic synthesizer and emulator technology. Among Shankar's many compositions are the scores for the motion pictures Pather Panchali (1954), Charly (1968), and Gandhi (1982) as well as ballets and concerti for sitar and orchestra. He collaborated with such musicians as violinist Yehudi Menuhin and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and also with composer Philip Glass on the electronic recording Passages (1990). Shankar also served (1986–92) in India's parliament. His daughter, Anoushka Shankar, 1981–, who studied with him, also is a virtuoso sitarist.

  • See his autobiographies (1969 and 1997);.
  • biography (2002) by A. Shankar (his daughter);.
  • Ghosh, D. , ed., The Great Shankars: Uday, Ravi (1983);.
  • Musilli, John , dir., Ravi Shankar and Friends (documentary, 1976).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Shankar, Ravi
Philip's Encyclopedia

1920- Indian musician. He was responsible for popularizing the sitar and Indian music in general in the West. Shankar founded the National...

Full text Article Shankar, Ravi (1920 - )
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

He influenced the Beatles, performed with Yehudi Menuhin, and inspired André Previn to write a sitar concerto. ...

Full text Article Ravi Shankar
The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music

Shankar was the most respected exponent in India of the classical repertoire for the sitar. The ' echoing ' sound produced...

See more from Credo