The world of Indian music lost one of its legends on Tuesday as eminent santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, 84, passed away in Mumbai. He cremated with state honors on Wednesday. Sharma had been suffering from kidney-related ailments for the past six months and was on dialysis. He passed away due to a cardiac arrest. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was not seen regularly at musical events for the last couple of years. However, he was due to perform in Bhopal next week, family sources said. He is survived by wife Manorama and sons Rahul, also a santoor player, and Rohit.
Sharma has been credited with populariing the santoor, a little-known folk instrument from Jammu and Kashmir, and giving it classical status in Indian music. He received the Padmashri in 1991 and the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 2001 for his contributions to Indian music. Born in Jammu, Sharma began learning the santoor at the age of 13. His first public performance was in Mumbai in 1955. He collaborated with flute legend Hariprasad Chaurasia and guitarist Brij Bhushan Kabra in 1967 to produce the acclaimed concept album ‘Call of the Valley’. Under the name “Shiv-Hari”, Sharma also composed music for several critically acclaimed films such as Silsila, Lamhe, Chandni and Darr, along with Chuarasia.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray declared a state funeral for Sharma on Wednesday afternoon. Top national leaders paid tribute to the santoor legend on Tuesday. “Our cultural world is poorer with the demise of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma Ji,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “He popularized the santoor at a global level. His music will continue to enthral coming generations. I fondly remember my interactions with him. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” the PM tweeted.
Sarod player Amjad Ali Khan tweeted: “The passing away of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma Ji marks the end of an era. He was the pioneer of santoor and his contribution is unparalleled. For me, it’s a personal loss and I will miss him no end. May his soul rest in peace. His music lives on forever! Om Shanti!” – Agencies