Legendary sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar, India’s most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West, celebrated his 90th birthday today. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he has done more for Indian music than any other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West.
Ravi Shankar has been honored with numerous honorary doctorates from all over the world including Harvard and the New England Conservatory. He has also received India’s highest honor the Bharat Ratna, the Praemium Imperiale from Japan, and the Polar Music Prize from Sweden (referred to as the Nobel prize of music), Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur (the highest French civilian award), Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth and many more. He has tirelessly been performing, teaching, composing and touring for more than 75 years.
The Ravi Shankar Foundation was established in 1997. Ravi Shankar has donated all his prize money and has performed several fund raising concerts to benefit the Foundation. The Foundation has helped to build a Centre in Delhi with a beautiful atmosphere where a very few, extremely talented and hardworking students are introduced to the age-old tradition of the Gurukul System of learning. The Foundation has also sponsored students from the US, who have been learning from Mr. Shankar, to go to the Centre, where they have had the opportunity to experience living, practicing and breathing in the aura of music under the guidance of the Guru in an Indian atmosphere. The Centre is also a venue for informal and intimate Indian music and dance performances and art exhibitions.
Ravi Shankar shares a lifelong friendship with George Harrison, starting the moment they first met in 1966. Over the years Ravi and George would collaborate on three albums composed by Ravi Shankar – Shankar Family & Friends, Music Festival Of India and Chants Of India – in addition to their work together on the historic Concert For Bangladesh.