Ravi Shankar celebrates his 90th birthday today.
Best known by the wider western world for his connection with George Harrison and the Beatles Ravi is a master of the sitar. He has received 3 Grammys, played with Yehudi Menuhin. He is a great performer, he is also a noted composer, teacher and writer. Certainly he has done more for Indian music than any other musician.
He began as a dancer touring Europe in his brother’s dance troop and did not start to study the sitar until he was 18. Apart from his music (as if that was enough) he was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999, as well as serving in the upper house of the Indian Parliament.
I have been lucky enough to visit India a few times and have witnessed various types and stiles of music and performances from formal religious ceremonies to scratch bands playing together for the joy of music which we all share. The music is complex but accessable formalised but improvised, it has a religious basis but is secular in its appeal.
If you ever get the opportunity I urge you to listen to Ravi and to Indian music in general. You will love it!
Also check out tabla music….