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Ravi Shankar is a world-renowned musician, composer, performer, and scholar of classical Indian music. He is one of the leading cultural figures of the twentieth century whose accomplishments place him as the leading figure of an important musical tradition.
His long and distinguished musical career includes numerous recordings, performances at all the world's leading venues, and a series of unprecedented collaborations with other leading musicians. 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 was born on April 7, 1920, in Varanasi, India. He moved to Paris in 1930, performing as a musician and dancer on tour in Europe and America with his brother Uday Shankar. In 1935, he met Baba Allauddin Khan, a towering figure in North Indian classical music. Ravi Shankar returned to India and went through a phase of intense learning sitar, under the guidance of Allauddin Khan.
In 1939, he had his first concert as soloist at a music conference in Allahabad. By 1945 Shankar's reputation as the leading performer of traditional Hindustani music on the sitar had coalesced. He began to branch out as a composer, writing music for ballet and for important films such as such as Dharti Ke Lal, Neecha Nagar, Godaan, and Anuradha. He also composed the patriotic song Sare Jahan Se Accha, which is the most widely known piece of music in India, second only to the national anthem.
In 1949, Shankar became Music Director of All-India Radio at Delhi, and founded the Vadya Vrinda Chamber Orchestra. The years 1950-55 were a particularly intense period of compositional activity, most notably in the internationally-acclaimed film studios of Calcutta, where he scored The Ray Triology. In 1970's, George Harrison of the Beatles developed a deep, abiding interest in Hindustani music, and began to study with Ravi Shankar. One influence of this study can be heard in his song Within You, Without You.
He has received many awards and honours from his own country and from all over the world, including fourteen doctorates, the Padma Vibhushan, Desikottam, the Magsaysay Award from Manila, two Grammy's, the Fukuoka grand Prize from Japan, the Crystal award from Davos, with the title 'Global Ambassador' to name some.
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