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Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)

Amergin 12 Dec 12 - 12:48 AM
Stilly River Sage 12 Dec 12 - 12:57 AM
Rapparee 12 Dec 12 - 01:15 AM
Pete Jennings 12 Dec 12 - 04:50 AM
Desert Dancer 12 Dec 12 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,Backwoodsman sans Cookie 12 Dec 12 - 08:52 AM
SINSULL 12 Dec 12 - 09:09 AM
Charley Noble 12 Dec 12 - 09:31 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 12 Dec 12 - 09:55 AM
Elmore 12 Dec 12 - 10:33 AM
Ed. 12 Dec 12 - 10:49 AM
Bill D 12 Dec 12 - 11:03 AM
kendall 12 Dec 12 - 11:32 AM
Don Firth 12 Dec 12 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 12 Dec 12 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 12 Dec 12 - 05:37 PM
Bill D 12 Dec 12 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 12 Dec 12 - 08:06 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Dec 12 - 10:59 PM
Rex 13 Dec 12 - 10:11 AM
Don Firth 13 Dec 12 - 03:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 13 Dec 12 - 04:54 PM
voyager 13 Dec 12 - 04:56 PM
Don Firth 13 Dec 12 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 13 Dec 12 - 07:40 PM
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Subject: Obit: Ravi Shankar
From: Amergin
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 12:48 AM

The sitar master and father of the most talented and beautiful Norah Jones has passed away at 92.

Ravi Shankar dies

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 12:57 AM

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Rapparee
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 01:15 AM

Oh dear. He was a very good musician.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 04:50 AM

An absolute master. RIP.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 08:33 AM

Ravi Shankar, Prolific Indian Sitarist, Dies at 92

By Allan Kozinn
The New York Times
December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitarist and composer whose collaborations with Western classical musicians as well as rock stars helped foster a worldwide appreciation of India's traditional music, died Tuesday in a hospital near his home in Southern California. He was 92.

Mr. Shankar had suffered from upper respiratory and heart ailments in the last year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last Thursday, his family said in a statement.

Mr. Shankar, a soft-spoken, eloquent man whose performance style embodied a virtuosity that transcended musical languages, was trained in both Eastern and Western musical traditions. Although Western audiences were often mystified by the odd sounds and shapes of the instruments when he began touring in Europe and the United States in the early 1950s, Mr. Shankar and his ensemble gradually built a large following for Indian music.

His instrument, the sitar, has a small rounded body and a long neck with a resonating gourd at the top. It has 6 melody strings and 25 sympathetic strings (which are not played but resonate freely as the other strings are plucked). Sitar performances are partly improvised, but the improvisations are strictly governed by a repertory of ragas (melodic patterns representing specific moods, times of day, seasons of the year or events) and talas (intricate rhythmic patterns) that date back several millenniums.

Mr. Shankar's quest for a Western audience was helped in 1965 when George Harrison of the Beatles began to study the sitar with him. But Harrison was not the first Western musician to seek Mr. Shankar's guidance. In 1952 he met and began performing with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, with whom he made three recordings for EMI: "West Meets East" (1967), "West Meets East, Vol. 2" (1968) and "Improvisations: East Meets West" (1977).

Mr. Shankar loved to mix the music of different cultures. He collaborated with the flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and the jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane, who had become fascinated with Indian music and philosophy in the early '60s. Coltrane met with Mr. Shankar several times from 1964 to 1966 to learn the basics of ragas, talas and Indian improvisation techniques. Coltrane named his son Ravi after Mr. Shankar.

Mr. Shankar also collaborated with several prominent Japanese musicians — Hozan Yamamoto, a shakuhachi player, and Susumu Miyashita, a koto player — on "East Greets East," a 1978 recording in which Indian and Japanese influences intermingled.

In addition to his frequent tours as a sitarist Mr. Shankar was a prolific composer of film music (including the score for Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi" in 1982), ballets, electronic works and concertos for sitar and Western orchestras.

In 1988 his seven-movement "Swar Milan" was performed at the Palace of Culture in Moscow by an ensemble of 140 musicians, including the Russian Folk Ensemble, members of the Moscow Philharmonic and the Ministry of Culture Chorus, as well as Mr. Shankar's own group of Indian musicians. And in 1990 he collaborated with the Minimalist composer Philip Glass — who had worked as his assistant on the film score for "Chappaqua" in the late 1960s — on "Passages," a recording of works he and Mr. Glass composed for each other.

"I have always had an instinct for doing new things," Mr. Shankar said in 1985. "Call it good or bad, I love to experiment."

Ravi Shankar, whose formal name was Robindra Shankar Chowdhury, was born on April 7, 1920, in Varanasi, India, to a family of musicians and dancers. His older brother Uday directed a touring Indian dance troupe, which Ravi joined when he was 10. Within five years he had become one of the company's star soloists. He also discovered that he had a facility with the sitar and the sarod, another stringed instrument, as well as the flute and the tabla, an Indian drum.

The idea of helping Western listeners appreciate the intricacies of Indian music occurred to him during his years as a dancer.

"My brother had a house in Paris," he recalled in one interview. "To it came many Western classical musicians. These musicians all made the same point: 'Indian music,' they said, 'is beautiful when we hear it with the dancers. On its own it is repetitious and monotonous.' They talked as if Indian music were an ethnic phenomenon, just another museum piece. Even when they were being decent and kind, I was furious. And at the same time sorry for them. Indian music was so rich and varied and deep. These people hadn't penetrated even the outer skin."

Mr. Shankar soon found, however, that as a young, self-taught musician he had not penetrated very deeply either. In 1936 an Indian court musician, Allaudin Khan, joined the company for a year and set Mr. Shankar on a different path.

"He was the first person frank enough to tell me that I had talent but that I was wasting it — that I was going nowhere, doing nothing," Mr. Shankar said. "Everyone else was full of praise, but he killed my ego and made me humble."

When Mr. Shankar asked Mr. Khan to teach him, he was told that he could learn to play the sitar only after he decided to give up the worldly life he was leading and devote himself fully to his studies. In 1937 Mr. Shankar gave up dancing, sold his Western clothes and returned to India to become a musician.

"I surrendered myself to the old way," he said, "and let me tell you, it was difficult for me to go from places like New York and Chicago to a remote village full of mosquitoes, bedbugs, lizards and snakes, with frogs croaking all night. I was just like a Western young man. But I overcame all that."

After studying with Mr. Khan for seven years and marrying his daughter, Annapurna, also a sitarist, Mr. Shankar began his performing career in India. In the 1940s he started bringing Eastern and Western currents together in ballet scores and incidental music for films, including Satyajit Ray's "Apu" trilogy, in the late 1950s. In 1949 he was appointed music director of All India Radio. There he formed the National Orchestra, an ensemble of both Indian and Western classical instruments.

Mr. Shankar became increasingly interested in touring outside India in the early 1950s. His appetite was whetted further when he undertook a tour of the Soviet Union in 1954 and was invited to perform in London and New York. But it wasn't until 1956 that he began spending long periods outside India. That year, he left his position at All India Radio and undertook tours of Europe and the United States.

Through his recitals, as well as recordings on the Columbia and World Pacific labels, Mr. Shankar built a Western following for the sitar. Interest in the instrument exploded in 1965, when Harrison encountered a sitar on the set of "Help!," the Beatles' second film. Intrigued by the instrument's complexity, he learned its rudiments and used it on a Beatles recording, "Norwegian Wood," that year.

The Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Byrds and other rock groups quickly followed suit, although few went as far as Harrison, who recorded several songs that appeared on Beatles albums with Indian musicians, rather than his band mates. By the summer of 1967 the sitar was in vogue in the rock world.

At first Mr. Shankar reveled in the attention his connection with popular culture brought him, and he performed for huge audiences at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 and at Woodstock in 1969. He also performed, with the tabla virtuoso Alla Rakha and the sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, at an all-star concert at Madison Square Garden in 1971 that Harrison organized to help Mr. Shankar raise money for the victims of political upheaval in Bangladesh.

Mr. Shankar eventually came to regard his participation in rock festivals as a mistake. Looking back at that era, he said he deplored the use of his music, which has its roots in an ancient spiritual tradition, as a backdrop for drug taking.

"On one hand," he said in a 1985 interview, "I was lucky to have been there at a time when society was changing. And although much of the hippie movement seemed superficial, there was also a lot of sincerity in it, and a tremendous amount of energy. What disturbed me, though, was the use of drugs and the mixing of drugs with our music. And I was hurt by the idea that our classical music was treated as a fad — something that is very common in Western countries.

"People would come to my concerts stoned, and they would sit in the audience drinking Coke and making out with their girlfriends. I found it very humiliating, and there were many times I picked up my sitar and walked away.

"I tried to make the young people sit properly and listen. I assured them that if they wanted to be high, I could make them feel high through the music, without drugs, if they'd only give me a chance. It was a terrible experience at the time.

"But you know, many of those young people still come to our concerts. They have matured, they are free from drugs, and they have a better attitude. And this makes me happy that I went through all that. I have come full circle."

He maintained his friendship and working relationship with Harrison, who released a recording of a 1972 performance by Mr. Shankar on the Beatles' Apple label and produced a recording in a more popular style — short, bright-edged songs with vocals, rather than expansive instrumental improvisations — by Shankar Family and Friends (who included Harrison, listed in the credits as Hari Georgeson, as well as the bassist Klaus Voorman, the pianist Nicky Hopkins, the organist Billy Preston and the flutist Tom Scott) on his own Dark Horse label in 1974. That year, Mr. Shankar toured the United States with Harrison. They last worked together in 1997, when Harrison produced Mr. Shankar's "Chants of India" CD for EMI.

Mr. Shankar continued to be regarded in the West as the most eloquent spokesman for his country's music. But his popularity abroad and his experiments with Western musical sounds and styles drew criticism among traditionalists in India.

"In India I have been called a destroyer," he said in 1981. "But that is only because they mixed my identity as a performer and as a composer. As a composer I have tried everything, even electronic music and avant-garde. But as a performer I am, believe me, getting more classical and more orthodox, jealously protecting the heritage that I have learned."

Mr. Shankar was a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, from 1986 to 1992.

He taught extensively in the United States. In the late 1960s he founded a school of Indian music, the Kinnara School, in Los Angeles. He was a visiting professor at City College in New York in 1967. Recordings of his City College lectures were the basis for "Learning Indian Music," a set of cassettes that explain the basics of the style. Mr. Shankar was the subject of a documentary film, "Raga: A Journey Into the Soul of India," in 1971, and published two autobiographies: "My Life, My Music" in 1969 and "Raga Mala" in 1997.

In 2010 the Ravi Shankar Foundation started a record label using a variation of the name of his collaboration with Menuhin, East Meets West Music, which began by reissuing some of his historic recordings and films, including "Raga." Mr. Shankar's first marriage, to Annapurna Devi, ended in the late 1960s. They had a son, Shubhendra Shankar, who died in 1992. He also had long relationships with Kamala Shastri, a dancer; and Sue Jones, a concert producer, with whom he had a daughter, the singer Norah Jones, in 1979; as well as Sukanya Rajan, whom he married in 1989. Mr. Shankar and Ms. Rajan had a daughter, the sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar, in 1981. He is survived by his wife and two daughters as well as three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

"If I've accomplished anything in these past 30 years," Mr. Shankar said in the 1985 interview, "it's that I have been able to open the door to our music in the West. I enjoy seeing other Indian musicians — old and young — coming to Europe and America and having some success. I'm happy to have contributed to that.

"Of course now there is a whole new generation out there, so we have to start all over again. To a degree their interest in India has been kindled by 'Gandhi,' 'Passage to India' and 'The Jewel in the Crown.' What we have to do now is convey to them an awareness of the richness and diversity of our culture."

Linked at the article: Ravi Shankar at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967 on YouTube.

~ Becky in Tucson

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: GUEST,Backwoodsman sans Cookie
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 08:52 AM

A superb and inspirational musician - RIP Ravi, you won't be forgotten.

As well as Nora, Ravi leaves another hugely talented daughter, Anushka, like her father a brilliant sitar-player, composer, arranger and musician. Witness Anushka playing her sitar solo 'Your Eyes' and conducting her father's composition 'Arpan' on the 'Concert for George' (Harrison) DVD - spellbinding!

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 09:09 AM

RIP You brought great joy and peace to millions.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 09:31 AM

Another giant gone...

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 09:55 AM

Maestro Shankar's music was the soundtrack for many a metaphysical journey. The "discovery" of his music by westerners paralleled the similar "discovery" of eastern religious and philosophical practices. The two were intertwined and inseparable.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Elmore
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 10:33 AM

Seeing him play in person was a truly memorable experience. He won't be forgotten.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Ed.
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 10:49 AM

The word 'genius' is too often lightly used, but if anyone deserves such an accolade then it's Ravi Shankar.

In the west, most will doubtlessly remember him most for his association with the Beatles and influence on late '60s pop culture. However, as the excellent New York times piece that Becky has reproduced testifies, he did so, so much more and his legacy is immense.

I was lucky enough to see him and his daughter Anoushka live on his 80th Birthday tour. Utterly sublime and probably the most mesmerizing musical experience of my entire life.

Thank you, Ravi.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 11:03 AM

I acquired an LP of his in the 1960s, which I often used as background sound to lull me to sleep. I watched him improvise with jazz musicians on TV in the 70s.

He was........ a musician's musician.

I shall play that old LP today.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: kendall
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 11:32 AM

One of the most unforgettable performances I ever saw was a duet with him and Yehudi Menuhin.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 03:23 PM

The first time I ever heard a sitar was in the early 1950s. I walked into The Chalet, a basement restaurant in the U. District in Seattle and my ears were greeted with music, but music like I had never heard before.

There sat Nazir Jairazbhoy, an Indian exchange student of my acquaintance who, like many of us, hung out at The Chalet between classes. Nazir was playing a most unusual instrument.

He said that he had just resurrected his sitar. He had searched all of Seattle's music shops for replacement strings for his instrument, but they didn't know what he was talking about. But he had just received a large package of sitar strings from home, had restrung his instrument, and was warming up his fingers.

He gave me a demonstration of the instrument and explained a lot about ragas, most of which, I'm afraid, went over my head. Then he said, "Of course it's possible to play western music on a sitar as well." At which point, he played a most interesting rendition of "Greensleeves."

Although I was aware the The Beatles had flirted with the sitar on some of their records, my next encounter with the instrument was when I was working as an announcer at a classical music radio station in Seattle during the 1970s. As the "Sunset Symphony" on this particular day, Bob MacDonald, the program director, had scheduled the Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra: Morning Love, performed by Ravi Shankar (composer) accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn.

I sat there and listened to it on the studio speakers with fascination.

It engendered a number of phone calls from listeners. Most were amazed and wanted to know more about the instrument, a little bit, fortunately, I was able to supply from my chat with Nazir twenty years before.

There were a few calls of the "What in God's name was that gawdawful thing you just played!??" I think it was sound of the sympathetic strings resonating, and the "string bending" that's characteristic of sitar music, that was a bit too strange for their rather pedestrian ears. As in, "If it isn't Beethoven, it's not music!" school of non-thought.

Another fine musician gone, but there will be some great music in Nirvana tonight.

Don Firth

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 04:29 PM

I saw Ravi in a folk club in Soho, London back in 1966.
He was introduced to the audience by A L Lloyd.
At the end of the show, I thought that I'd have a word with Ravi, but when I reached him another chap was already asking Ravi some questions.
Then the chap asked Ravi what religion he followed, and Ravi - quite wonderfully - replied, "My music is my religion".
Great stuff.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 05:37 PM

Curious that the Spirit of Ravi Shankar "returned to the Cosmic Mother" on 12/12/12.

My journey with all of this began around 1966-67 in Providence Rhode Island, where I met the first Indian person in my Life. His name was Jai, a shop owner. He had an Indian shirt in the store, long and crisp with starch as my nose picked up the powerful scent of incense, a new world.

"Why does it have such wide sleeves?," I asked. "It's called a "kirta" "and the sleeves are good to roll up for fighting," he replied while laughing. To this day, I still don't quite understand the reply.

He had a sitar in the window, and when I told him that I was a guitar player, he let me play it. Wild, just wild. I bought the shirt, we became friends.

Then came the music. There was a man called Ravi Shankar, who played the sitar on an album, PERFECT. I GOT to have THAT. It featured Raag Bhimpalasi, "an afternoon Raga," as described in the liner notes. I must have played that, I don't know how many times...a lot. It put my mind in places it had never gone before, something about the rhythm, the tones...

Then the food, the curries, and the funny desserts with the silver paper on top(which I tried to peel off, much to the amusement of the waiter, only to find out it was made of sugar, and was made to be eaten...LOL) The people, the culture, the music, the food, all NEW, all EXCITING!

When I heard of the passing of Ravi Shankar, all of that came rushing back, and I thought I'd share the memories with you, as I'm sure you have your own.

What can you say about this man who accomplished so much?...He opened a BIG door. Something MUCH more than just the music.

Thanks Mr. Shankar (thinking of Paramahansa Yogananda right now) NAMASTE & Rest in Peace for Eternity...bob

A humble tribute...Raag Bhimpalasi...

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 06:45 PM

And Raag Khamaj by Ravi Shankar & his daughter(1997)

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 08:06 PM

Further research indicates that Ravi Shankar passed away on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, and not on 12/12/12 (the time most of the news went around the world) as I wrote in my previous post.

Out of respect for Mr. Shankar, his Family, and his Fans, I want to maintain accuracy on my posts about him.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Dec 12 - 10:59 PM

Don, I believe you really can find everything in the world on YouTube. Including the piece you mentioned.

Fascinating. With Andre Previn and the London Philharmonic.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Rex
Date: 13 Dec 12 - 10:11 AM

I was a wide eyed follower of anything the Beatles would do. This guy shows up with an instrument I had never seen before and sounds I had never heard. I was hooked and remain quite enamored with the music of India today. While I have no venue for playing my sitar, I still play it for myself. Ravi opened the door to the music of India for me and in time, the music of the world. And then he would blend it together. How I loved his ventures into joining musicians from all genres and arts. Thank you Ravi.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Dec 12 - 03:32 PM

Thanks, Maggie!

I just listened to the sitar concerto again. Then I gave a listen to Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar's daughter. The maestro may be gone, but the music still goes on!


As the piece moves on, check her right foot. She's really GROOVIN'!!

Don Firth

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Dec 12 - 04:54 PM


Thanks also for sharing that anecdote about late Dr. Jaraizbhoy -- another important figure in the story of Indian music in the West.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: voyager
Date: 13 Dec 12 - 04:56 PM

This work by Anoushka Shankar is mesmerizing. Such a contribution to our world has this family made. We heard Ravi Shankar and Anoushka at
the Kennedy Center in 2008. His talent goes beyond my ability to write about it. Thank you and God speed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Dec 12 - 05:47 PM

Gibb Sahib, I just Googled Nazir and found a huge amount of information!

I wasn't aware that he was born in England, I had assumed he was born in India. I knew several Indian exchange students and just assumed. . . .   And I don't recall that he ever said.

I do recall his saying that he wanted to put in some time on the sitar and learn to play it really well, and that he intended to go where he felt the best sitar teachers were—England!

I haven't read all the stuff about Nazir yet, but I'm going back and read it now.

Don Firth

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 13 Dec 12 - 07:40 PM

Had to put this one up...
NAMASTE Pandit Ravi Shankar...

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