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VikasMohan Created By VikasMohan on 26-Jun-2018 -- 07:36 AM

Without doubt Pandit Shivkumar Sharma is the father of santoor instrument. When the instrument is resting on his lap and Mezrabs (2 wooden mallets) in his hands, the compositions are soothingly endless. santoor learning takes a hard amount of dedication and passion, all which Shivkumar worked on to be the best santoor instrument player. Many students including emerging musicians are learning santoor from Pandit Shivkumar. Some of them have already gotten recognition. But hands down, no one can be as good as the maestro himself, who has a world wide fan base and international fame. The only musician that can be compared to the living legend, is his son and student, Rahul Sharma.




Shivkumar Sharma was born on 13th January 1938, in Jammu( now known as Jammu and Kashmir). His father, Uma Dutt Sharma was an accomplished Hindustani vocalist, tabla player and pakhavaj player, in the folklore of ‘Benaras Gharana’ and the “Raj Pandit” at the court of Maharaja Pratap Singh.

 At the young age of 5, Shivkumar was intrigued by music and his interest grew for it. He started to learn vocals and to play tabla from his father and guru. By the age of 12, he started performing for a local radio station in his native. His father was keen about the santoor instrument and researched all about it, and later the introduced it to his son and disciple. Uma wanted his son to become a great santoor player the world has ever seen and to take the instrument to international stages.

So Shivkumar spend his teenage years learning the santoor only, and technicalities of it along with the idea of incorporating it with Hindustani classic music. In his days the instrument was known as the Shata Tantri, a dulcimer of 100 strings used for Sufiana Mausiqi in the Kashmiri regions and barely known in Hindustani tradition. At 13 years of age, Shivkumar was already progressing to fulfil his father’s dreams.




In 1955 Shivkumar made his debut public performance, playing Hindustani music on the santoor instrument. He was criticized by many traditionalists about the fact that the instrument was percussive fixed-pitch instrument and couldn’t actually suit Hindustani music. Hearing these, Shivkumar decided to experiment with the santoor instrument and increased it’s   melodic range, changed the tuning and arrangements of the strings and changed the technical method playing . All of these changes left to more sustained sound, as it matched the tone and flexibility of the human voice. It was then, that the santoor instrument was regarded part of Hindustani music. The following year he composed a background score for the movie,”Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje” and his first solo ablum was recorded in 1960.

He teamed up with flautist Hariprasad and musician Brij Bhushan Kabra  to come out with an album “Call of the Valley” in 1967. It was considered to be the best album in Indiian Classic muic. Throughout his career, he released numerous innovative experimental albums on santoor music including ‘The Glory Of Strings – Santoor’ (1991),‘Varsh? - A Homage to the Rain Gods’ (1993), ‘Hundred Strings of Santoor’ (1994), ‘The Pioneer of Santoor (1994)’, ‘Sampradaya’ (1999), ‘Vibrant Music for Reiki’ (2003), ‘Essential Evening Chants’ (2007) ‘The Last Word in Santoor’ (2009) and Sangeet Sartaj (2011). He also has collaborated a lot with Hariparasad, that their works are known as the “Shiv-Hari” duo and they both composed many songs together. He also published a book in 2002 called “Jounrey with a 100 strings: My Life in Music”. He still continues to teach the santoor instrument  in the Guru Shishya tradition, free of cost. His students come from various parts of the world to learn santoor.




In 1967 he was awarded the ‘Platinum Disc’, for the album “Call of the Valley” and for 2 romantic drama films ‘Silsila’ and ‘Chandni’.

In 1986, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest award for artists.

In 1990 he received the Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar and in the same year , he received the Honorary Doctorate from the University of Jammu.

He received the Padma Shri in 1991.

He conferred with the “Special Award for Outstanding Music and Film” in 1993.

In the year 1998, he won the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award.

In 2001, he received the Padma Vibhusan Award.



To this day, it is Pandit’s Shivkumar Sharma’s efforts that the santoor instrument is recognized world wide and has developed into three full octaves. Shivkumar and his son Rahul Sharma, still perform together at concerts.




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