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Ravi Shankar was one traditional Indian musician who met the West with confidence and on equal terms. Thanks to him, the West now understands Indian music much better
 
 
 
 
 
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Ravishankar brings home another Grammy

The sitarist and godfather of world music is honoured with a third Grammy, this time for his album Full Circle/Carnegie Hall 2000



George Harrison described him as the godfather of world music. Pandit Ravi Shankar's latest Grammy, his fourth, comes in that very category, and is a popular recognition of what the academic world has always believed: that he is among the greatest cultural heroes of the last 100 years.

Ravi Shankar won the honour for his album Full Circle/Carnegie Hall 2000 against such nominations as Brazil's Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento and Britain's John McLaughlin for Saturday Night In Bombay -- Remember Shakti. This is his third Grammy; he had won the award earlier in 1966 and 1972. The ultimate prize of "mainstream music" has sought out the Indian maestro and given him four nominations and three wins. The latest award was announced on February 28.

Ravi Shankar took Indian classical music to the West in a very big way, and as Girish Karnad, the well-known Kannada playwright and actor once said, he met that civilisation with confidence and on equal terms. His projects have bridged cultural boundaries, and are considered "among the most notable achievements of the twentieth century".

Full Circle/Carnegie Hall 2000 features two ragas -- Kaushi Kanhara and Mishra Gara. Ravi Shankar was chosen ahead of Afro Celt Sound System for Further In Time in the traditional music category.

Born in Varanasi, one of the world's oldest cities and a fountainhead of Hindu faith, in 1920, Ravi Shankar has achieved legendary stature as composer, performer and teacher. The University of California, where he teaches, describes him as "a world-renowned musician, composer, performer, and scholar of classical Indian music" and "one of the leading cultural figures of the twentieth century whose accomplishments place him as the leading figure of an important musical tradition."

What has made Ravi Shankar such a big presence in the West, especially in the US, is his willingness to collaborate with some of the greatest musical minds in that part of the globe. To quote the University of California again, "Although he is well known because of his interaction with the popular music world, it is important to underscore that Shankar is considered the leading international figure in a very elevated art form, Hindustani music."

Ravi Shankar has recorded with such diverse musicians as Yehudi Menuhin, Philip Glass, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Zubin Mehta (and the New York Philharmonic), George Harrison, Hosan Yamamoto (Japanese Shakuhachi master) and Musumi Miyashita (Japanese koto virtuoso).

Yehudi Menuhin was a great friend and admirer of Ravi Shankar and made very flattering references to the sitarist in his autobiography. Similarly, Philip Glass, who was to become famous for his minimalist scores, was deeply influenced by the maestro.

Ravi Shankar was music director of All-India Radio, and also composed music for films, most famously for Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali.

TMM Desk

Published on 1 March 2002


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