Music luminaries pay tribute to Pandit Ravi Shankar

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 17:33 hrs

Mumbai: Indian music luminaries paid tributes to 'godfather of world music' and Grammy winning composer Ravi Shankar, who helped introduce the sitar to the Western world through his collaborations with The Beatles.

Shankar died in Southern California on Tuesday (December 11), his family said. He was 92.

A three-time Grammy winner with legendary appearances at the 1967 Monterey Festival and at Woodstock, Shankar had been in fragile health for several years and last Thursday underwent surgery, his family said in a statement.

Shankar had suffered from upper respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last week at a hospital in San Diego, south of Los Angeles. The surgery was successful but he was unable to recover and passed away on Tuesday evening (US time).

The surgery was successful, but he was unable to recover.

Some of the leading exponents of the classical Indian art forms mourned his death.

Indian classical singer and Ravi Shankar's contemporary, Shanti Hiranand said his music had a spellbinding effect, one could almost feel like being hit by a thunderbolt while listening to him.

"Ravi Shankar, I met many a times. In fact, his first recording in US is with me, first concert, which he did in US as a young man. He was a great artist, I mean he took sitar to the world and today that sitar is being played all over the world is all because of him."

He was described as "the godfather of world music" by George Harrison, the Beatles' lead guitarist.

Even though he was a legend in the Western world, he was always drawn back to the revered traditions of the sitar.

Indian classical music student, Pooja Goswami, said: "These kind of souls are not human beings, we call them 'gandharv' (distinguished musicians) in Indian music. So, he was gandharv, his body and soul was full of music in everything, not only in sitar, rhythm and dance."

A long time disciple of the sitar maestro, Parimal Sadaphal said: "The purity, sweetness and innovation in his music that we have seen over the years, his legacy will continue. Even if we keep trying, it is difficult to reach his level."

Saddened over the demise, legendary classical dancer, Pandit Birju Maharaj said: "I am deeply saddened and in pain. Pain is a small word, he was an undying personality. He was the kind of a person, who made the world familiar with sitar, raag and taal (classical Indian musical notations). He used to get completely engrossed while playing sitar and the glimpse of the notations were reflected on his face."

Shankar performed his last concert with his daughter Anoushka on November 4 in Long Beach, California, the statement said. The night before he underwent surgery, he was nominated for a Grammy for his latest album "The Living Room Sessions, Part 1."

His family said that memorial plans would be announced at a later date and requested that donations be made to the Ravi Shankar Foundation.

More from Sify: