As any musician or a music fan will tell you, the music of the sitar is considered to be truly unique. Sitar music can quite simply enrich any tune or piece. But while sitar music is lovely to enjoy, it’s pretty difficult to master. In fact, sitar-playing can stump even the most skilled musicians. If someone can play the sitar, they’ve accomplished a valuable musical feat in their life. When it comes to the most influential and famous sitar players, most of them are Indian and Middle Eastern descent. This is only natural because sitar music is one of the hallmarks of these regions.
Pandit Ravi Shankar– Pandit Ravi Shankar born was born on 7th April 1920 and died on 11 December 2012. Pandit Ravi Shankar is one of the most known classical musicians. Shankar spent his youth touring all over India and Europe with his brother Uday Shankar, later Ravi Shankar left dancing and started to learn sitar under the famous court musician Allauddin Khan. Shankar has also made an appearance at non-classical events, such as the original Woodstock and 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival.Pandit Ravi Shankar has known to be one of the top sitar players of the second half of the 20th century.
George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001)– George Harrison was the lead guitarist of the Beatles and Traveling Wilburys, George was also one of the best-selling solo artists. The fact people know less was that he was also one of the world’s most famous sitar players, and was devoted to Indian music and culture, in general. George Harrison got sitar lessons from Pandit Ravi Shankar himself in the 1960’s. George Harrison plays a very keen role in spreading Indian music all over America. George got the idea of blending Indian music with pop music, which even confused the sitar maestro.
Ustad Vilayat Khan (28 August 1928 – 13 March 2004)- Ustad Vilayat Khan was the member of the famous Khan family, the Khan family included the most influential and multi-talented sitarists, like Kirit Khan, Chhote Rahimat Khan, Inayat Khan, Hidayat Khan, Imdad Khan, Imrat Khan, Irshad Khan, Nishat Khan, Shafaatullah Khan, Shujaat Husain Khan, and Wahid Khan. Vilayat Khan has been known to introduce and develop gayaki and (gharana) on the sitar that forms the basis of a distinctive style which is admired and loved around the world.
The Khan Family gave many sitar ustads to the world, but most Indian classical musicians, sitar players, and rasikas think Pandit Nikhil Banerjee and Ustad Vilayat Khan as equal in talent. However, we cannot say who’s the best we just know they have their own styles that we admire and follow.
Anoushka Shankar- The daughter of the famous sitarist, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and a British-Indian sitarist. Anoushka also plays other instruments like tanpura and piano; Anoushka is also into vocal singing. Anoushka has won awards like British House of Commons Shield, 1998, Best Artist in the Songlines Music Award, 2012, Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards (ACTA) Award in 2017; She was also nominated six times for Grammy awards.
Prem Joshua- Prem Joshua is a German sitarist, this multi-instrumentalist blends Eastern and Western musical influences. At the age of 18, Prem traveled to India to learn indigenous folk music, Joshua was the name given to him by his parents but later he added prem to it, (Prem means love in Hindi).
The List is Long
Here in this article we have listed just five from multi-generation. But the list is incomplete without the names of Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Annapurna Devi, Ustad Rais Khan and Ustad Abdul Jaffer Khan who are legacy sitar players.
The Bottom Line
The most admired sitar players include Baba Allauddin khan, Ud. Ali Akbar khan, Reenat Fauzia, Annapurnadevi ji, who are the best in their own styles. In this article we have tried putting up the names of the sitar players that are famous and influencing the sitar generation. We wre not judging or ranking talent here in the post, We think people should imbibe their own capacity to understand the genre they like and whom they want to listen or follow.