In Memoriam: Ravi Shankar teaches George Harrison to Play Sitar

Ravi Shankar, the great sitar player who deeply influenced the American popular music of the 1960s and after, was among the figures who got me interested in India and led to my becoming a historian of South Asia. He died in San Diego on December 11 at age 92.

Here is a video of Ravi Shankar teaching George Harrison of the Beatles how to play sitar and musing on the strangeness of it all.

I see that some sites are identifying him, for this generation, as the “father of Nora Jones.”


“Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitarist and composer is India’s most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he has done more for Indian music than any other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. This however, he did only after long years of dedicated study under his illustrious guru Baba Allaudin Khan and after making a name for himself in India.

Always ahead of his time, Ravi Shankar has written three concertos for sitar and orchestra, last one of which in 2008. He has also authored violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal, music for Hosan Yamamoto, master of the Shakuhachi and Musumi Miyashita – Koto virtuoso, and has collaborated with Phillip Glass (Passages).
George Harrison produced and participated in two record albums, “Shankar Family & Friends” and “Festival of India” both composed by Ravi Shankar.

Ravi Shankar has also composed for ballets and films in India, Canada, Europe and the United States. The latter of which includes the films “Charly,” “Gandhi,” and the “Apu Trilogy”.

In the period of the awakening of the younger generation in the mid 60’s, Ravi Shankar gave three memorable concerts – Monterey Pop Festival, Concert for Bangla Desh, and The Woodstock Festival… ”

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4 Responses

  1. Music and meditation: two powerful, non-threatening ways to weave together East and West while avoiding the pitfalls of religious divisions. They can at best support human rights while saying nothing against the unique traditions from which they spring. Both are helping us, as a species, evolve beyond war.

  2. anoushka shankar is even more famous than half-sister nora jones .. in india .. sitar and fusion

    indian music, composed for the time of day, the season of the year, induces higher states of consciousness … so much more sophisticated than any other music in the world ..

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