Ravi Shankar Biography: is an Indian musician, composer, and exponent of the Sitar. He was born on 7th April 1920 in Benares to Amala and Shyam Shankar Chowdhury. As his father was an attorney at the court of the Nawab of Lucknow, Ravi Shankar had access to music from childhood.
His uncle Dr. Vasantrao Kulkarni introduced young Ravi to various instruments, including the sarod. At around nine years old, he began lessons on Sitar with renowned master Baba Allaudin Khan.
Although it would be many years before Ravi Shankar actually became Allaudin Khan’s student, during this time learned about Indian classical music, playing both khayal as well as dhrupad forms.
Ravi Shankar Wiki/Bio
|Full Name||Ravi Shankar|
|Date of Birth||7th April 1920|
|Place of Birth||Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, British India (Now in Uttar Pradesh, India)|
|Father||Shyam Shankar Chowdary|
|Mother Name||Amala Shankar|
Early Life: Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar was born on 7th April 1920 in British India to Amala and Shyam Shankar Chowdhury. His father headed the legal department of the Nawab of Lucknow, and his mother hailed from a wealthy Bengali family. He had an older brother named Uday, who would later go on to become a respected film director, and also a younger sister named Annapurna Devi, who became an accomplished musician herself.
At the age of nine, Ravi’s uncle Dr. Vasantrao Kulkarni introduced him to various musical instruments, including the sarod, Sitar as well as flute, however. It was only three years later that he began learning how to play any instrument properly under the tutelage of a well-established musician named Ganapati Pundit in the Maihar court.
It was during this time that Ravi Shankar, who was only nine years old at the time, met Rabindranath Tagore when he visited Pundit’s house to watch him play. He also had access to famous musicians such as Allauddin Khan and Ali Akbar Khan through his father’s connections. Although it would take another five years before he became their student, even studying under one of them for just a few weeks.
Physical Appearance: Ravi Shankar
Personal Life and Education
Ravi Shankar married his first wife, named Rajasthani musician and dancer Kamala Shastri, at the age of 13. However, after only two years of living together, they went their separate ways. Not long afterward, he met Annapurna Devi, daughter of Baba Allauddin Khan, whom he would later marry after divorcing Devi’s older sister.
The couple had a son who was born with down syndrome believed to have been caused by Ravi Shankar traveling abroad so much as a young man. They also adopted a girl named Norah Jones through the efforts of George Harrison in 1979 before going on to have one more child of their own named Anoushka Shankar in 1981.
Family: Ravi Shankar
|Father:||Shyam Shankar Chowdary|
|Mother Name||Amala Shankar|
|Wife||Rajastani musician and dancer Kamala Shastri (m. 1942, div. 1946)|
|Wife||Annapurna Devi (m. 1956, div. 1982)|
|Adopted Daughter||Norah Jones (b. 1979)|
|Adopted Son||Shubhendra “Shubho” Shankar|
|Children with Annapurna Devi||Anoushka Shankar (b. 9th June 1981)|
|Siblings||Uday Shankar (Younger Brother), Annapurna Devi (Older Sister).|
His music career was initially influenced by the culture of Maihar Gharana. It was, however, due to his exposure to two other musicians, firstly Sikander Bakht, who introduced him to Kazi Nazrul Islam’s songs, and secondly Ustad Allaudin Khan, who taught him various aspects of Indian classical music on Sitar. Not long after he started learning from these two musicians, Ravi Shankar began playing for All India Radio at their Jalandhar station.
He went on tour with dancer Uday Shankar and then began taking lessons from another great musician – Baba Allauddin Khan – although this would prove to be only a few weeks long because the latter decided not to teach R anymore as he wasn’t interested in traditional Indian music. This setback only made the young Ravi Shankar work harder to become a great musician and to prove himself worthy of Allaudin Khan’s training.
In 1937 after Dr. Vasantrao Kulkarni heard him play, he awarded him a scholarship at the Benares Hindu University, where he studied for three years, but his mother was not happy with this idea as she wanted Ravi Shankar to look into a career in law instead.
Awards and Achievements
- Padma Bhushan in 1967
- Two Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album in 2004 and 2007
- Knighted by the French Government in 1985
- Star on the Walk of Fame in 2002
- Pre-Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009
- Bharat Ratna in 1999 (India’s Highest Civilian Award)
Death and Cause of Death
On 11th December 2012, Ravi Shankar died at the age of 92 after a heart attack in San Diego, California.
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