Salim Merchant was a trailblazer to music maestro

‘The resonance of the strings of his santoor will keep playing all over the world till the end of the world,’ said Shankar Mahadevan on Pandit Shivkumar Sharma’s demise.

Santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma breathed his last yesterday morning. He was 84. His family sources told Press Trust of India that he had a cardiac arrest at 9 am and that he was on regular dialysis.

Pandit Sharma was known for making santoor globally popular. Born in Jammu, he began learning the musical instrument from the age of 13. His first tryst with music happened at five when his father began teaching him vocals and tabla. Apart from his contribution to the field of Indian classical music, he composed some iconic film songs by teaming up with the legendary flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia. Shiv-Hari went on to compose music for films like Silsila (1981), Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991) and Darr (1993).

In 1986, Pandit Sharma was conferred the prestigious Natak Akademi Award. He was also the recipient of the Padma Shri in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001.

We reached out to some musicians who have been greatly influenced by the musical brilliance and prowess of Pandit Sharma. They pay their homage and share their thoughts on keeping him alive in their hearts for years to come.

Shankar Mahadevan, Singer-composer

With the demise of our dearest maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma ji, the time has come to put a full stop to the word ‘santoor’. His contribution to Indian classical music is something that cannot be described in words. It’s not like he took a traditional instrument and played it in a classical style, he had taken a non-classical instrument, mastered it, played classical music on it and gave it an international status. He was an amazing artiste and composer. He had an incredible sense of rhythm and melody. The void he has left in the world of classical music is huge. As a student of classical music, I would like to thank Shiv ji for giving us his music and preserving our culture.

Anup Jalota, Singer

Pandit Shivkumar ji’s demise is an insurmountable loss for the world of music. People like him are not born every day. Santoor was played while singing folk songs in Jammu and Kashmir earlier. But he made it a classical musical instrument and gave it worldwide recognition. Apart from being an artiste par excellence, Pandit Shivkumar was an amazing human being. He was as beautiful as his santoor. Unko koi dekhta tha toh dekhta reh jaata tha. He was a reflection of Lord Krishna. I hope his soul rests in peace. I offer my sincere condolences to his family and hope that they can bear with this loss.

Madhushree, Singer

It’s very sad news indeed. His name is synonymous with a santoor. He made it immensely popular all over the world. I’ve watched him perform live and the way he played it was beautiful. He was a fantastic human being too. He has given us some lovely film songs even though he didn’t compose for too many films. I can’t forget ‘Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum’ and ‘Neela Aasman So Gaya’ from Silsila. I’m truly heartbroken that he is no more. Having said that, I know that he will continue to live in our hearts forever. Being a classical singer, I grew up listening to his music. I was highly influenced and inspired by the album Call Of The Valley by Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Brij Bhushan Kabra (popularised guitar in Indian classical music) and Hariprasad Chaurasia. Every time he used to perform live in Kolkata, I used to go watch him. I also remember meeting him at his Mumbai house. I last met him four years back at a live show.

Salim Merchant, Singer-composer

With Pandit Shivkumar Sharma’s passing, we have lost a gem, a diamond and a legend of our music industry. He has always been more than just an incredible musician and was actually a father figure, who blazed a trail all of his own while also showing us the path. He played such a difficult instrument – the santoor – in such an accomplished manner for decades. It is an instrument which is a beautiful combination of melody and rhythm. His aura, his unique sound, and his colossal contributions to Indian classical music will continue to inspire generations – past, present, and future.

I may run out of words to express what he has done for us and our musical journeys… and that’s an apt testament to his gigantic accomplishments. So many maestros of music have played with him and honed their craft under his astute tutelage. Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia as Shiv-Hari have composed such epic music over the years in Hindi cinema in many iconic films. Their work in timeless hits like Silsila, Chandni and many others have only repeatedly underscored Pandit Sharma’s versatility and mastery over the complexities of classical music… bringing its magic to commercial audiences the world over. His legacy remains eternal. His contributions to the world of music will forever be etched in our hearts, souls and minds.

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Author: Akagamino

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