Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Ravi Shankar: A Life in Music

Ravi Shankar Videos—A Selection | Add Your Comment


A Life in Music
Ravi Shankar was born in Varanasi, India on April 7, 1920 and spent his youth performing across Europe and India as a member of his brother Uday's dance troupe. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study the sitar under the legendary court musician Ustad Allauddin Khan. After completing his studies in 1944, Shankar began giving recitals all over India and working as a composer, writing music for theater and several of Satyajit Ray's films. He was also music director of All India Radio in New Delhi from 1949 to 1956.

Asia Society presented Shankar's first American concert at Carnegie Hall in 1957, and his first American tour four years later. The 1960s saw Shankar rise to become India's premiere musical ambassador, bringing its classical tradition to Europe and America through teaching, touring, and his association with Western musicians like John Coltrane, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and of course George Harrison of The Beatles. By the end of the ‘60s he was arguably the most famous Indian in the world.

Shankar continued his engagement with the West, and Western music, in the '70s and '80s through further touring, writing concerti for sitar and orchestra, and collaborating with the American composer Philip Glass. From 1986 to 1992 he served as a nominated member of the upper chamber of the Parliament of India. India awarded Shankar its highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999.

Since 2000 Shankar has continued to perform around the world, more and more often with his daughter Anoushka, who has won acclaim as a sitar virtuoso in her own right. Not content to rest on his laurels, Shankar is launching his own music label, East Meets West Music, which will draw on his personal archive of performance recordings, on his 90th birthday.

"On behalf of music lovers and champions of East-West cultural connections, we felicitate Maestro Ravi Shankar on his 90th birthday," says Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai. "He enchanted American audiences with his electrifying sitar playing even before the Beatles sought his guidance and partnership. Asia Society is proud to have had a warm connection with Raviji for more than 50 years, when we invited him to perform in New York in 1957."

"We look forward to celebrating Raviji's 100th birthday, and we wish him happy and healthy life forever."


Related materials
Anoushka Shankar performs her father's "Sitar Concerto No. 3" at Asia Society
Yehudi Menuhin on Indian classical music

External links
The Ravi Shankar Foundation
East Meets West Music


Ravi Shankar Videos—A Selection

Raag Bihag, Part 1 (1971)

Live in Santa Cruz, with Anoushka Shankar (sitar) and Tanmoy Bose (tabla) (2007)


Do you have a favorite memory of Ravi Shankar? Share your recollections below,
and feel free to leave a birthday greeting for "Raviji" on his 90th birthday.

Through your playing I learned to love Indian Classical Music in Boston. I also will never forget seeing you and Ali Akbar Khan playing together in Poona, India in 1963 when I was living there.
I had an opportunity to perform flute before Panditji during 1986 at his residence at Lodhi Road, New Delhi. He appreciated with this word, "Quite Good," after listening to his favourite Raga-Nat Bhairava. Dr. R.K. SRINIVASAN, FLUTIST FROM INDIA.
Sreecharaneshu Panditji, Namashkaar, Sai Ram. Happy Birthday to you/ Shubha Janmadin. Pranam guruji Pranam. Music is my God. AMITA
*Birthday Blessings Panditji* Our heartfelt thanks to you. We'll always remember a most spirited, enlightened, warm & joyous concert you gave at London's Guildhall, July 2004. The tabla player had just got married :) What a journey you shared with us all in that space/time ! *Blessings in abundance*
Happy Birthday Ravi Shankar. I have never met you, yet your music has inspired me, made my life sweeter for decades. Thank you.
I met Ravi Shankarji in Houston. His contribution to music will be remembered for a long time. I wish him happy 90th birthday. Sockalingam Sam Kannappan, Advisory Board Member, Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, Texas, USA
I find his music so inviting and that it has a certain warmth about it. I found out about his music at a Tibetan Store of all places in use for meditation.
I attended Raviji's last concert with his daughter Anoushka at Carnegie Hall. What an electrifying performance! Best wishes on your 90th birthday and may you enjoy many more. Namaskarum!
I knew Ravi Shankar and we met many times when I was in my twenties at the homes of Indian friends in New York. Part of la jeunesse doree or my chequered past I can't decide. (Hard to believe he's 90 and I'm 79.) I may have some old photos....
So sweet has life been with your sensitive musical interpretations. Your touch will remain throughout the ages. I was enchanted by your performance in London.

Post new comment

Your comments are welcome, please adhere to our guidelines

Be respectful. Personal attacks will not be tolerated; nor will profane, abusive or threatening posts.

Keep it short (150 words or less), Stay on topic.

Asia Society reserves the right to moderate all comments and remove or edit for guideline violations. Thank you.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.