In 1938, Shankar gave up a potential career as a dancer and went to study with Allauddin Khan in Maihar. In 1939, he began giving public recitals and came out of training at the end of 1944. Until 1948, he based himself in Bombay and gave programs all over India. He toured and wrote for films and ballet. Around this time he began his recording career with a small session for HMV (India). Work for All India Radio followed, as music director from February 1949 to January 1956 in New Delhi. Concurrently, his international star was on the rise. In 1954, he performed in the Soviet Union. In 1956, he played his debut solo concerts in Western Europe and the U.S. Within a decade he would be the most famous Indian musician on the planet. Within two decades he became probably the most famous Indian alive. His English-language autobiography, My Music, My Life (1969), is still one of the best general introductions to Hindustani music. It would be hard to over-estimate his influence in late 20th century Western music. His disciples included George Harrison and Philip Glass.
Shankar was not one-dimensional. Apart from pursuing a career as a classical performer, he also experimented outside this field. For this reason he has attracted criticism from purists. Some of this, especially during the Beatles era, undoubtedly had an element of jealousy to it, and some was certainly warranted, because Shankar did take many chances. In fact, that was one of the things that kept his music exciting. To use a cricketing image -- baseball would be wholly inappropriate -- Shankar's batting average remained high throughout a long and illustrious career. In later life, he spent a great deal of time in the U.S. at his home in California, and continued to give spellbinding live performances well into the new century. However, his final concert took place in Bangalore, southwest India, in February 2012, where he shared the stage with his daughter, Anoushka. Sadly, following a long period of ill health, Shankar passed away at a San Diego hospital on December 11, 2012, aged 92. ~ Ken Hunt, Rovi