What Could He Not Do? Ravi Shankar


What is it that Ravi Shankar, India’s most famous ambassador of culture and good will, did not do? He played all over the world, including in the Kremlin and Woodstock! He made pioneering records with Western classical musicians and composed and recorded his own jazz album (a rare find on the internet).   He fathered two famous beautiful women (Anoushka and Norah) who have millions of fans worldwide

In tonight’s share, a double disc I picked up for a song a few years ago, we learn that he was also involved in films. Both mainstream Indian films of the sort that are today referred to as Bollywood, as well as India’s once upon a time thriving, ‘parallel’ cinema.

Disc 2 is an interesting set of music composed by Shankar for the globally acclaimed Bengali Apu Trilogy, which shot Satyajit Ray to fame in the 1950s. The music is not the main focus here rather the dialogue of some particularly important scenes. There is also a set of songs from the 1960 film Anuradha for which he worked with the lyricist Shailendra. Traditional commercial film music of that era. The film won a number of awards and though Shankar was not awarded for his music the songs all suggest he could have made an entire parallel career as musical director.




Disc 11-01 Raga Jog

1-01 Raga Jog

1-02 Raga Ahir Bhairav

1-03 Raga Simhendra Madhyaman


Disc 2:

2-01 Jaana Kaise Sapanon Main

2-02 Sanwarey, Sanwarey

2-03 Kaise Din Beete, Laise Beeti Ratiya

2-04 Bahut Din Huye

2-05 Haye Re Woh Din Kyun Na Aaye

2-06 The World Of Apu Pt 1

2-07 The World Of Apu, Pt. 2

2-08 The World Of Apu, Pt.3

2-09 The World Of Apu, Part 4

2-10 The World Of Apu, Pt.5


The Twain Meet: Ravi Shankar and Zubin Mehta

Pandit Ravi Shankar

Pandit Ravi Shankar

I’m off again on an overseas jaunt and not sure what I’ll find in terms of time and internet connectivity, so before I board those silver wings, I’ll share a thirty year old record.


Ravi Shankar, who passed less than a year ago, was not just an Ambassador of Indian music to the rest of the world, he was an artist of never-ending creative curiosity.  He collaborated with jazz and rock musicians as well as a number of western classical icons.


Zubin Mehta, the Indian born conductor extraordinaire, grew up in a musical environment that included his father Mehli, sitting in with many Indian and international jazz musicians in Bombay, when that sit on the Arabian Sea was a global haven for hot jazz. His father also doubled as the conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra and it was in that atmosphere that Zubin fell in love with western classical music.  Currently, he heads the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as well as serving as musical director of a number of Music Festivals in Europe.


This 1981 collaboration saw Shankar compose a Concerto in four parts, each of which was based upon the structure of a particular raga.  The result is quite different from his other famous collaboration with violinist Yehudi Menuhin which in essence had the two classical traditions playing side by side, but not as one.  Here, Shankar’s guitar is the soloing instrument within the context of the New York Philharmonic and as such it is a much more integrated piece of music.


Thoroughly enjoyable!

Ravi Zubin front Ravi Zubin back

Track Listing:

  1. Lalit (Presto)
  2. Bairaji (Moderato)
  3. Yaman Kalyan (Largo Moderato)
  4. Mian ka Malhar (Allegro)