Remembering Subroto Roychowdhury, Giant of Indian Classical Music

06/01/2017 03:25 am ET

I am so very sorry to report the demise of Subroto Roychowdhury, one of India's greatest music maestros and the father of my friend Sohini Roychowdhury Dasgupta, the Madrid-based Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, dance guru, and creative director of dance operas under the banner of her troupe, SohiniMoksha.

Pandit Roychowdhury died in Berlin on May 22 of a lung collapse at the age of 73 after giving 14 concerts in Germany and Austria -- the last one just three days before his death.

He was the first Indian musician to be appointed guest professor in the Department of World Music, Berlin University. In fact, he was the first Indian sitar player to play in Germany after the late Pandit Ravi Shankar. Along with Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Roychowdhury is credited with poularizing Indian classical music in the West.

He was also the first Indian musician to be appointed as lifetime professor by the Austrian Educational and Cultural Council, Innsbruck. At the time of his death, Pandit Roychowdhury had performed in more than 1,000 concerts in Europe, plus many more in India and elsewhere, and more than 5,000 students globally.

Sohini notes that her father was the first Indian sitar player to play fusion with jazz. With the late Steve Lacy, soprano saxophonist, Pandit Roychowdhury produced “Exploration”: it remains one of the bestselling CD’s of fusion music. Pandit Roychowdhury has 38 CD's in the market, according to Sohini.

My prayers for Sohini, her mother Uma (a sculptor), and the entire Roychowdhury family in Kolkata.

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