News Column

Indian Maestro Ravi Shankar Dies at 92

December 12, 2012

Leaders and musicians paid homage Wednesday to Indian sitar maestro and composer Ravi Shankar, who died in the United States at 92.

Many hailed the contribution to popularizing Indian classical music made by the man dubbed the godfather of world music by the late George Harrison of the Beatles.

Premier Manmohan Singh described him as "a global ambassador of India's cultural heritage and a national treasure."

"An era has passed away with Pandit Ravishankar," Singh said on the microblogging site Twitter, using an Indian honorific.

"The nation joins me to pay tributes to his unsurpassable genius, his art and his humility," Singh said.

Parliament observed two minutes of silence in honour of Shankar, who died Tuesday, five days after undergoing heart-valve replacement surgery in San Diego, the Ravi Shankar Foundation said.

"Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery," a statement by his wife and daughter said.

Fellow musicians said Shankar's work enriched both Indian and international music.

"We grew up looking at a musician who was as large as the music itself," Bombay Jayashri Ramnath, a classical singer in the southern Indian carnatic style, was quoted as saying by the broadcaster NDTV.

"He was like a father figure to students of music and one almost feels orphaned with his demise," she said.

Over his lengthy and varied career, Shankar helped to popularize Indian classical music in the West, collaborated with artists such as Harrison and violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and appeared at several prominent pop concerts at the end of the 1960s.

He also composed film scores, including those for Richard Attenborough's Gandhi and Indian director Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy.

The three-time Grammy winner was the father of singer Norah Jones and sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, or Jewel of India, in 1999 and served as an unelected member of the upper chamber of Parliament from 1986 to 1992.

He was based since the 1990s in Encintas, California, with his wife Sukanya.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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