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Pandit Ravi Shankar - India's unofficial ambassador of music passes away
Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has passed away in San Diego, California at the age of 92. The musician was admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla last Thursday after he complained of breathing problem.

HE BREATHED his last at 4.30 pm Pacific Time. The sitar exponent perhaps could be called India's musical ambassador and was responsible for making Indian classical music popular in the West. He was the main phenomenon behind bringing the eastern and western music together. Pandir Ravi Shankar was active as a professional musician till the end and was one of the contenders for the next Grammys.

The legendary Sitar player was born on 7th April, 1920 at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Shyam Shankar and Hemangini Devi. He was the youngest among seven brothers and belonged to a Brahmin family. He was named as Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury by his parents, which was later changed to Ravi Shankar. His elder brother Uday Shankar was an eminent classical dancer and he was a member of his dance troupe. So, at a very early age of 10, he went to Paris along with the troupe to perform there.

Pandit Ravi Shankar started his formal training in music in 1938 under the guidance of Ustad Allauddin Khan of Maihar. He then started his professional career as a music director for All India Radio (AIR) at New Delhi and also recorded music for HMV in 1949. But in 1956 he resigned from AIR and concentrated on his foreign tours; he incorporated South Indian Carnatic music in his performances at United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. This made melodious strains of Ravi Shankar's sitar and carried Indian music across the seven seas.

He was a performer, teacher and writer but was popularized as Sitar player. Not only did he leave Indian music lovers spellbound but his fabulous music performance reached all across the globe. He collaborated with several international artists including George Harrison of 'The Beatles' which had garnered him fame and adulation all over the world. He was honored with Grammy Award for best Chamber Music Performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. He also conducted many charity concerts and one of the charity concerts which he conducted in Bangladesh in 1971 became one of his best-selling albums.

Ravi Shankar was married to Annapurna Devi, daughter of his own teacher Baba Allauddin Khan. The couple was blessed with a son in 1942 and they named him Shubhendra Shankar. However this relation did not last long and the couple got separated. And on his tour to America he developed a relationship with Sue Jones, a New York concert producer which led to birth of Norah Jones in 1979. Besides this he also had a relation with Sukanya Rajan who gave birth to Anoushka Shankar in 1981. He had many other relations, but finally in 1986 he married Sukanya Rajan.

Unlike the usual traditional style of Carnatic music, Ravi Shankar developed a different style of music and gained fame by performing it in a distinctive style on sitar. He introduced new ragas like Tilak Shyam, Nat Bhairav, and Bairagi. He was famous in promoting the jugalbandi duet concert style. He was been awarded with three top Indian national civil honours – Padma Bhushan in 1967, Padma Vibhushan in 1981, and Bharat Ratna in 1999. Shankar was also nominated for 2013 Grammys. He was also nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha from 1986 to 1992.

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