Pandit Shivkumar Sharma: celebrated Indian composer dies aged 84

The famous santoor player died from a cardiac arrest in Mumbai after suffering from kidney-related ailments

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded composer Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, who has died in Mumbai aged 84, for expanding the global influence of the santoor, a 100-stringed trapezoidal dulcimer. Photo by Prodip Guha/Getty Images
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Indian composer Pandit Shivkumar Sharma has died aged 84.

The famous santoor player died from a cardiac arrest in Mumbai after suffering from kidney-related ailments for the past six months.

One of India’s most celebrated classical musicians, Sharma was scheduled to perform in Bhopal next week.

"He had a severe heart attack at around 9am. He was active and was to perform in Bhopal next week. He was on regular dialysis but was still was active," a family member told the Press Trust of India on Tuesday.

Tributes for the Walking in the Rain composer began pouring in on social media soon after news of his death broke.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded Sharma for expanding the global influence of the santoor, a 100-stringed trapezoidal dulcimer, and putting it on par with other classical Indian instruments such as the sitar and sarod.

“Our cultural world is poorer with the demise of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma Ji. He popularised the Santoor at a global level,” Modi wrote on Twitter. “His music will continue to enthral the coming generations. I fondly remember my interactions with him. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.”

Born in Jammu in 1938, Sharma is credited as being the first musician to play Indian classical music on the santoor.

He collaborated with various luminaries of Indian classical music, including flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia and guitarist Brij Bhushan Kabra, with whom he produced the 1967 concept album Call of the Valley.

Sharma also composed music for several Hindi films, including Faasle (1985) and Lamhe (1991).

"The passing away of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharmaji marks the end of an era,” sarod player, Amjad Ali Khan, wrote on Twitter.

“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."

Updated: May 10, 2022, 9:21 AM
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