We were saddened to get the news overnight that Pandit Ravi Shankar has died at the age of 92. The great sitar virtuoso was perhaps best known in the West for his work with The Beatles during the 1960s, but he was a true giant of Indian classical music and culture in general, and his loss will no doubt be mourned all over the subcontinent. Shankar’s career spanned some 70 years, from his earliest days as a composer for (and later director of) All India Radio during the 1940s and ’50s through his work popularizing Hindustani music around the world in the 1960s and ’70s, his short career as a politician in the 1980s, and his later years as a treasured elder statesman of Indian culture. After the jump we’ve shared 10 of our favorite recordings of the great man. If you’re looking for a primer on his work, we hope it’s a good place to start, although considering he was responsible for a genuinely innumerable number of recordings over his career, it’s really only skimming the surface of a deep, deep ocean. Let us know if you have any to add!
Ravi Shankar — Sounds of India: Music
This recording dates from 1957, and finds Shankar explaining the basic concepts behind Indian classical music — raga, tala, improvisation, and the stories behind the music he performs on the CD. The first track, appropriately titled “An Introduction to Indian Music,” also opens the excellent 2005 compilation The Essential Ravi Shankar, and is a fine introduction to the world of Hindustani classical music.