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Ravi Shankar Dies Aged 92
Laurie Tuffrey , December 12th, 2012 05:43

Legendary virtuoso sitarist and composer

Ravi Shankar, the Indian musician and composer, best known for his superlative skills as a sitar player, has passed away, aged 92.

He died in the Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego with his family by his side, having undergone surgery there last week. In a statement given to Reuters, his wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka, herself a renowned sitarist, said: "Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery."

Born in Varanasi in 1920, Shankar danced in his brother Uday's troupe until he was 18, when he took up the sitar. He went on to play his first concert in 1939 before embarking on what would be a relentless musical career, first composing and producing music for the films Dharti ke Lal and Neecha Nagar and the ballet The Discovery Of India in the mid-1940s.

He went on to become arguably the greatest contemporary exponent of the instrument, playing at the Monterey Pop Festival, the Concert For Bangladesh and Woodstock as well as famously teaching the sitar to George Harrison, who called Shankar "the godfather of world music", which resulted in the 1974 album Shankar Family & Friends.

He also went on to establish a number of educational establishments, first the Kinnara School of Music in Bombay and Los Angeles, followed by the Ravi Shankar Institute of Music and the Performing Arts in New Delhi. He was consequently awarded with the Bharat Ratna, the highest Indian civil recognition, as well an honorary knighthood from Britain and membership of the American Academy Of Arts And Letters.

The family added in their statement: "Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives. He will live forever in our hearts and in his music."