by Robert Wilkinson
Yes, today’s the birthday of George Harrison’s sitar guru! We have lots of amazing video performances!!
Born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, Ravi Shankar (7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012) was an Indian musician and composer who played the sitar, and became globally known through his association with George Harrison, who introduced Ravi (and therefore Indian music) to the world on a scale never known before. His influence is incalculable, since before Ravi, there were no “exotic instruments” used in western pop music, and after Ravi, we’ve had a flood of music made incorporating all kinds of world instruments previously unknown in the west.
An international dancer as a youth, he began playing sitar in 1938 under Allauddin Khan. He began composing in the 40s, and began touring Europe and the Americas in 1956. Still, it was his association with Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison that opened millions to his awesome talent, and he performed globally right up to his death.
I had the good fortune to visit with him over the course of an afternoon at a close friend’s house in 1981 related to an event I was planning. His spiritual magnetism was still very strong, even at that advanced age. He fulfilled Dharma in a huge way during his long and productive life!
For your enjoyment, a few pieces from the sitar Master! Enjoy watching some magnificent playing!!
This is what introduced Ravi and his music to the world during the Summer of Love! Ravi Shankar Live At Monterrey Pop, 1967 (It seriously cranks up a little over 6 minutes in, so enjoy!)
Last year I had 20 minutes of video featuring Ravi live at the legendary Concert for Bangladesh, but it’s nowhere to be found. Still, to celebrate that singular historic effort, from that show, here’s 14+ minutes of pure gold! Ravi Shankar- “Bangla Dhun” - the Concert for Bangladesh, 1971
Also from 1971, Ravi Shankar performing on the Dick Cavett Show
Here’s 35 minutes, live on the BBC! Ravi Shankar Live At the BBC
Now for some great studio work!
Last year I had the entire 1963 album “Ravi Shankar – India’s Master Musician,” but it disappeared. However, I found a link to the entire playlist in order, so begin with “Kafi Holi (Spring Festival of Colors)”
Here’s the link to the second clip in the list, “Dhun (Folk Airs)”
Here’s the closing track to the first album, ”Ragu Charu Keshi”
From 1964, the studio album Ravi Shankar
From 1965, the studio album “Sounds of the Sitar”
From 1966, the album that blew millions of minds! West Meets East – Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar
From 1968, the 55 min studio album “The Sounds of India”
From 1969, a couple of audio-only clips of Ravi Shankar Live at Woodstock!
This year I couldn’t find the entire 44 minutes of Ravi’s 1970 studio album Raga Parameshwari album on one clip, but I did find it in two!
From 1971, the studio album Ravi Shankar - Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra - Morning Love
From 1972, the studio album Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan in concert part 1
From 1979, west meets east in 42 minutes of historic improvisation! Improvisations: West Meets East – Album 3
From 1987, produced by Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream fame, a great album! Ravi Shankar, Frank Serafine, and Peter Baumann – Tana Mana
From 1989, the entire 1 hour and 9 studio album Ravi Shankar – Inside the Kremlin
From 1990, a brilliant collaboration! Here’s the entire 55 minute studio album Ravi Shankar and Phillip Glass - Passages
Here’s the entire 1 hour 1997 album produced by George Harrison! “Chants of India”
Here's the 2005 1 hr. and 15 studio album The Spirit of India
We’ll close this birthday celebration for the musical Master with a live performance in Carnegie Hall from May, 1993. For your enjoyment,
For our encore, live in 2002, the Master gives a class! From the BBC show “Portrait,” here’s Raga: a personal introduction by Ravi Shankar
Thanks for fulfilling your Dharma, Ravi. You opened the world to timeless music from a timeless culture, and made our world a better place for the beauty you brought to all of us. Aum Namah Shivaya! Enjoy Devachan until the next turn of the wheel, and my salutations to you, Sai Baba, Sri George, and Raja.
© Copyright 2017 Robert Wilkinson