Between the two world wars, his elder brother Uday Shankar was the leader of the first company of Indian dance to know international. A recognition that passed through Paris, where his family lived for two years.
Learning Indian classical music
From the age of 18, Ravi Shankar devoted colossal to explore classical music a time and energy. After leaving the cast of his brother, he hesitated between the various options available to him: dance, cinema and music. His meeting with his guru, Ustad Allauddin Khan – said Baba – sarod player was crucial here. “I was very influenced by my brother, but Baba changed my life. When I knew him, I was a spoiled child. He taught me the importance of discipline, something which I did not see the interest at the beginning…” The training of Indian classical music requires a relationship between the guru and his disciple. Transmitted orally, the art of the raga requests a total investment on the part of the latter. So many things that the young Ravi was not prepared, who left early a modest life in India for the ors of international luxury hotels. “When I met Baba, I had never known anyone as much rooted in the past and tradition. It was full of principles, with a bad temper but also capable of full of love. It took me time to enjoy it.” Baba also fulfills the role of father with Ravi Shankar, who had very little known his. For seven years he followed his rigorous teaching, which allowed him to become the sitar virtuoso. “I been so fortunate to have Baba. Today, when I play, I continue to seek his blessing”, emphasized again a few years ago.
In the 1950s, Shankar became a musician very prominent component of the music in film (for Director Satyajit Ray, among others), and by turning abroad. In a few years, he became the true Ambassador of music Hindustani in the West. A role which acquitted with pleasure, taking time to explain the mysteries of melodic and rhythmic motifs ancestral. «Present the music of my country to the West was my biggest motivation.» My advantage over other musicians, is that I already knew Western culture.” The first with whom he forged a great complicity outside the India was the violinist Yehudi Menuhin. “He was like a brother to me, both excellent musician and wonderful human.”
“George Harrison: both a friend, a son and a disciple”.
But the one who helped her to become an international superstar, is George Harrison, guitarist of the Beatles, then at the height of their popularity when he met him in London in 1966. “It has presented me them all four, but I immediately found very different George. From the beginning, I felt that he loved deeply the culture and Indian philosophy.” Ravi Shankar approved less the incursions of the sitar on the songs of the Beatles as Norwegian Wood or Within You, Without You. “I said openly to George that I didn’t like at all this. But if he had the time to train, he would become a great sitar”. The two men will remain close until the death of Harrison in December 2001. “George was at the time a friend, a son and a disciple for me. Before our meeting, I knew nothing at the rock apart from one or two movies of Elvis, but he was loaded in this atmosphere. There, I started to play in front of bearded and scalp, people who felt the patchouli and the marijuana. “I wanted to much to the agent who found me these commitments: it is impossible to listen to Indian music in the same State of mind as pop.”.
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