December 12, 2012

ASCAP Remembers Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar

ASCAP joins the world in mourning the passing of our member, Ravi Shankar, master sitar player, composer, and the most influential figure in bringing the music of his native India to the attention of the West. Shankar died in San Diego, CA on December 11th at the age of 92. Well-known for his close association with the Beatles' George Harrison, Shankar enjoyed a multi-faceted career for more than 70 years as a concert musician, film score composer, recording artist and Indian music icon.

Ravi Shankar was born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury.on April 7th, 1920 in Varanasi, India. By the age of 13, he became a member of his older brother Uday's traditional dance troupe, traveling through Europe and America and learning not only to dance, but how to play Indian instruments. In 1938, Ravi Shankar left the dance troupe and gave up his Western lifestyle to devote himself to the serious study of Indian classical music under the tutelage of Allauddin Khan in a small Indian village. When his studies were completed, Shankar began to work in Indian theater, radio and film, including composing the score for Satyajit Ray's acclaimed Apu Trilogy. Shankar was befriended by classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin in the early 1950s. The two would later team up for the Grammy-winning 1967 album, West Meets East.

George Harrison met Ravi Shankar in 1966 and soon joined him to study Indian music in Srinagar, India. Shankar was soon in demand by the rock music world and was booked to perform at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and at Woodstock in 1969. He was also a key figure in Harrison's 1971 Concert for Bangladesh at New York's Madison Square Garden. Other notable Shankar projects would include Passages, a collaboration with Philip Glass; the Oscar-nominated score for the film Gandhi; and the Grammy-winning Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000. In his later years, Shankar was a lecturer at the University of California, San Diego. He played his last concert on November 4th in San Diego.

Among his survivors are his daughters, ASCAP member Anoushka Shankar (who often performed with her father) and the American pop singer Norah Jones.

Read more about Ravi Shankar's life and legacy at