WorldView Episode 11: Ravi Shankar

A sitar virtuoso and composer of North Indian classical music, Ravi Shankar became famous in the mid-20th century for his solo performances and collaborations with Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison. He inspired a generation of musicians and is considered to be one of the greatest Indian musicians of all time. 

Ravi Shankar was born in Benares, North India, in 1920, one of seven brothers. He spent much of his youth traveling extensively throughout India and Europe as a part of his brother Uday’s dance troupe, but eventually gave up dancing at the age of eighteen to study the sitar. His instructor was Allauddin Khan, a famous musician in his own right who became Shankar’s mentor and spiritual guide. After only six years of formal lessons, Shankar traveled to Mumbai to compose ballet and orchestra music, soon also becoming the director of music at the All-India station in New Delhi. This radio influence caused him to begin incorporating more traditional themes and instruments into his orchestrations, and his compositions soon gained international acclaim. 

Beginning in the 1960s, Shankar started collaborating with other famous artists. In 1967, he recorded the first of three albums with Yehudi Menuhim, West Meets East; he introduced the sitar to the Beatles and taught George Harrison; and, in 1969, he appeared at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair alongside Jimmy Hendrix and Joan Baez (Shankar continued to play through his set despite the onset of inclement weather). Later in his life he worked with Philip Glass and multiple movie producers, writing scores for Pather Panchali, Gandhi, and more. 

Ravi Shankar is remembered as “the godfather of world music”, who used his incredible talent to bring Indian culture to modern classical music. He is also largely credited for building an Eastern musical following in Europe and the Western countries. Shankar passed away in 2012, at the age of 92. 

This episode of WorldView features Shankar’s “Gat In Teentala”, performed by Daniel Hope on violin, Guarav Mazumdar on sitar, Asok Chakrabory on tabla, and Gilda Sebastion on tanpura. 

 

WorldView Episode Eleven Playlist:

Mily BALAKIREV, “Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat”, {English Northern Philharmonia, David Lloyd-Jones, Malcolm Binns (pf)} – Hyperion 

Ravi SHANKAR, “Gat In Teentala”, {Daniel Hope (vn), Guarav Mazumdar (sitar), Asok Chakrabory (tabla), Gilda Sebastion (tanpura)} – Warner Classics

Judith SHATIN, “Stringing the Bow”, {Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Joel Eric Suben} – Capstone Records

 

WorldView is a classical music radio show featuring composers from everywhere in the world – except Western Europe. Tune in to hear works by lesser-known artists such as Gabriela Montero  and Bright Sheng, and widen your knowledge of classical music. Hinke Younger hosts each week’s episode of WorldView on Mondays at 9AM and again at 6PM on Charlottesvilleclassical.org.

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