“Pop changes week to week, month to month. But great music is like literature.” So said the musician and composer Ravi Shankar, who was born on 7 April 1920 and who died yesterday in California aged 92. George Harrison called him “the godfather of world music” and it was Shankar’s virtuosity that brought the sounds of the raga into the global arena, thereby bridging the gap between eastern and western music.
In 1966, he met the Beatles in London. Later that year, George Harrison went to India and underwent intensive sitar tuition. Performances at the great 1960s pop festivals — Monterey, Concert for Bangladesh and Woodstock — established Shankar as a pioneer of cross-over sounds. In later years he divided his time between San Diego and New Delhi, where the Ravi Shankar Institute of Music and the Performing Arts was the culmination of his lifelong dream. He is survived by his wife, Sukanya, and daughters Anoushka and Norah Jones. His son, Shubhendra, died in 1992.