Ravi Shankar, renowned Indian composer and musician, died yesterday, December 11, 2012.
Born in India in 1920, Shankar began learning to play musical instruments while touring with his brother's dance troupe at age 10. When he was 18, he gave up dancing and began focusing his studies on the sitar under Allauddin Khan. Khan's intensive training of Shankar would last six years.
Shankar found early success by performing, composing, and even re-composing music. By the age of 29, he had become the musical director for All India Radio. During his time with All India Radio he also founded the Indian National Orchestra.
During the second half of the 1950s, Shankar gained an international following which also greatly increased world awareness of Indian classical music. So great had his reputation grown over the ensuing decade that when George Harrison wanted to learn to play the sitar, he visited India and spent six weeks with Shankar. The visit was captured in Raga, a documentary about Shankar. The film's soundtrack, Raga: A Film Journey to the Soul of India, was released digitally in 2010 to celebrate Shankar's ninetieth birthday.
Though he composed for dozens of films, it was his efforts for director Richard Attenborough's Gandhi which resulted in an Oscar nomination. His contribution helped define the man and the struggle depicted in the epic to a point rarely achieved in film music. For work outside of film, Shankar won three Grammys during his career. Shankar was the father of noted Grammy-nominated musician Anoushka Shankar and the nine-time Grammy-winning Norah Jones.
Widely credited with not just triggering interest in Indian music, but all world music, Ravi Shankar was still performingeven as recently as last month. He died in San Diego at the age of 92.