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Santoor legend Shiv Kumar Sharma dies at 84

Shiv Kumar Sharma popularised the santoor, composed both classical and popular music, and was honoured with a Padma Vibhushan

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Indian music composer and santoor player, dies in Mumbai at 84. Photo courtesy PTI
Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Indian music composer and santoor player, dies in Mumbai at 84. Photo courtesy PTI

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Santoor virtuoso Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, who took the stringed instrument to the global stage and successfully straddled the worlds of classical and film music, died in Mumbai on Tuesday following a heart attack. He was 84.

Sharma, one of India's most well-known classical musicians, died between 8 and 8.30 am at his Pali Hill residence, his secretary told PTI.

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He was due to perform in Bhopal next week. He was also suffering from renal ailments.

"He had a severe heart attack in the morning... He was on regular dialysis but was still was active," a family source said.

He is survived by his wife Manorama and sons Rahul, also a santoor player, and Rohit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who condoled Sharma's death.

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

A Padma Vibhushan recipient, Sharma was born in Jammu in 1938 and is believed to be the first musician to have played Indian classical music on the santoor, a folk instrument from Jammu and Kashmir.

As one half of musician duo Shiv-Hari, he composed music with flute legend Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia for an array of films such as Silsila, Lamhe, Chandni and Darr.

"Sad to know about the demise of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, eminent Santoor player and internationally celebrated Indian music composer. His departure impoverishes our cultural world. My deepest condolences," tweeted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Sarod player Amjad Ali Khan said Sharma's death was a personal loss for him.

"The passing away of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharmaji 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," Khan wrote in a tweet.

Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas and veteran actor Shabana Azmi also condoled Sharma's death.

"We have lost a gem today Padma Vibhushan Shri Shiv Kumar Sharma ji Santoor virtuoso a big loss to the Indian classical music," Udhas wrote on Twitter.

"Deeply saddened to hear that maestro Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma has passed away. His mellifluous music will remain in our hearts ofcourse but tinged by the pain of his loss. My deepest condolences to the family," tweeted Azmi.

Music composer and singer Salim Merchant remembered Sharma as one of the "greatest musicians of our times".

Sharma received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, followed by the Padma Shri in 1991, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001. 

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