The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar by Oliver Craske investigates Shankar's childhood traumas
As an icon of India, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar ranks not far below Gandhi or the Taj Mahal. He was one of the twentieth century’s most important musicians and one of the country's greatest cultural ambassadors.
And to write the biography of such a heavyweight legend is no mean feat to achieve. Oliver Craske has done so with his latest book, Indian Sun, The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar.
For this first biography of Ravi Shankar, Oliver Craske has carried out more than 130 new interviews and enjoyed unprecedented access to the Shankar family archives. He presents the first full portrait of the man and the artist, painting a vivid picture of the public and private faces of a captivating, restless workaholic who lived an intense and extraordinary life across 92 years.
Craske investigates Shankar’s childhood traumas and youthful stardom as a dancer, his intensive study of the sitar and his leading role in the revival of Indian classical music in his homeland, and his subsequent international career that ultimately made his name synonymous with India.
The sitarist filled the world’s leading concert halls, festival stages and airwaves with Indian classical music at a time when it was little known outside its homeland. A sensation at Monterey Pop, the Woodstock Festival and the Concert for Bangladesh, he also helped reshape jazz, minimalism and electronic music, pioneered the sitar concerto, and wrote many film scores, including Pather Panchali and Gandhi.
He charted the map for countless global musicians who followed in his wake. The unparalleled breadth of his impact is reflected in his disciples, who included George Harrison, John Coltrane, Philip Glass and Yehudi Menuhin.
Alongside a career as a book publisher, Craske has had a longstanding interest in Indian music. He first met Shankar in 1994, worked with him on his autobiography, Raga Mala (1997) and was encouraged by him to write his full story after his death.