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Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar passes away

PTI | DECEMBER 12, 2012, 08:05 AM IST

Legendary sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, who spearheaded the worldwide spread of Indian music and had a major influence on Western musicians like The Beatles, died today in San Diego at the age of 92.

Shankar, whose health had been fragile for the past several years, underwent heart-valve replacement surgery on Thursday at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where he breathed his last.

Political leaders and artistes across the spectrum todaymourned the demise of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar with Prime Minister ManmohanSingh describing him as a national treasure and a global ambassador of India'scultural heritage.

As news of 92-year-old Ravi Shankar's passing camein from California, US, messages started pouring in with melody queen LataMangeshkar and top musicians Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia and VishwaMohan Bhatt condoling the death of the sitar legend.

"An era has passed away with Pandit Ravi Shankar. Thenation joins me to pay tributes to his unsurpassable genius, his art and hishumility," the Prime Minister said.

Singh said that Ravi Shankar was "a national treasureand global ambassador of India's cultural heritage."

Mourning the death, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said Indiahas lost a distinguished son.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said,"With the death of Panditji, an era in classical music has come to an end.He was truly a multi-faceted personality.

Through his passion for music, he linked generationstogether and taught the world the role and relevance of music in our lives.

"Through the strings of his sitar he presented to theworld, the richness of Indian classical tradition in music.

His innovations gave us a perfect blend of jugalbandi ofdifferent musical traditions, he said.

Mangeshkar said, "He was a worshipper of Lord Krishnaand was like the lord for us. We used to talk about everything.

The classical sun of India has set and a darkness has comeover. There is no artist who spread Indian music this rapidly across the world.He was unique and was a blessed soul."

Classical musician Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, who was a discipleof Ravi Shankar, told PTI, "This is the saddest day of my life. I was oneof his closest... he was a fatherly figure to me and took care of me. He wasone musician with whom every artiste wanted to collaborate. He was so energeticand enthusiastic about life."

In his message to the sitar icon's wife Sukanya and daughterAnoushka, who is also an accomplished sitarist, Santoor player Shivkumar Sharmasaid, "It's a loss for the whole world. He was a global musician.Musicians like him are rarely born. I am very fortunate that I know him fromhalf a century."

"I met him in my home town Jammu, where he had come toperform. Those days I used to play tabla and I had accompanied him on it. Fromthen onwards, a long association started. He was very fond of my santoor too.There are very few musician who could be called be as legends of Indianclassical music," Sharma said.

Flautist Hari Prasad Chaurasia remembered the times heperformed with Shankar at concerts.

"I started crying when I heard the news. I am stilllearning music under Annapurna Devi, who was Shankar's first wife. I was alsoassociated with Allauddin Khan, who taught Shankar as well.

"He and I used to work in the film industry andoutside.

We did 55 concerts together. I remember each and everymoment spent with him. I learnt so much from him also. His hard work and lovefor Indian culture have made him a legendary musician," Chaurasia said.

Indian ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said on TwitterRavi Shankar was the world's best known exponent of Indian music. "Hislast concert was particularly poignant. Anoushka and he played together inperfect unison."

Kathak exponent Pt Birju Maharaj said, "He was the kingof tunes and rhythms. I am in Los Angeles and wanted to meet him, he said fewdays back that he was not well. I'm really sad after hearing this. We have losta big star. There are a lot of memories attached to him. I used to play tablawith him at his Feroze Shah house. His blessings were always with me."

Filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh tweeted, "This morning had anunearthly kind of beauty to it, perhaps a morning raga to celebrate the passingof Ravi Shankar. RIP."

"Pt Ravi Shankar Synonym of music is no more, he hasmade Sitar (Indian Instrument) international with dignity and Pride, God blesshis soul," said Sufi singer Kailash Kher.

"RIP Pandit Ravi Shankar. Grateful for the musicmaestro," said actress Lisa Ray.

"Pt Ravi Shankar's Sitar played for our souls. Hismusic helped us sooth our nerves. His smile was like his music- DIVINE.RIP," Anupam Kher posted on the micro-blogging site.

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