Ram Narayan (Hindi: राम नारायण; IAST: Rām Nārāyaṇ;) (born 25 December 1927), often referred to by the title Pandit, is an Indian musician who popularized the bowed instrument. Narayan was born in Udaipur and learned to play the sarangi at an early age. He studied under sarangi players and singers and, as a teenager, worked as a music teacher and traveling musician. All India Radio, Lahore, hired Narayan as an accompanist for vocalists in 1944. He moved to Delhi following the partition of India in 1947, but wishing to go beyond accompaniment and frustrated with his supporting role, Narayan moved to Mumbai in 1949 to work in Indian cinema. After an unsuccessful attempt in 1954, Narayan became a concert solo artist in 1956, and later gave up accompaniment. He recorded solo albums and began to tour America and Europe in the 1960s. Narayan taught Indian and foreign students and performed, frequently outside of India, into the 2000s. He was awarded India’s second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2005.
Ram Narayan was born on 25 December 1927 in Udaipur in northwestern India. His great-great-grandfather, Bagaji Biyavat, was a singer from Amber, and he and Narayan’s great-grandfather, Sagad Danji Biyavat, sang at the court of the Maharana of Udaipur. Narayan’s grandfather, Har Lalji Biyavat, and father, Nathuji Biyavat, were farmers and singers, Nathuji played the bowed instrument dilruba, and Narayan’s mother was a music lover. Narayan’s first language was Rajasthani and he learned Hindi and, later, English. At an age of about six, he found a small sarangi left by the family’s Ganga guru, a genealogist, and was taught a fingering technique developed by his father. Narayan’s father taught him, but was worried about the difficulty of playing the sarangi and its association with courtesan music, which gave the instrument a low social status. After a year, Biyavat sought lessons for his son from sarangi player Mehboob Khan of Jaipur, but changed his mind when Khan told him Narayan would have to change his fingering technique. Narayan’s father later encouraged him to leave school and devote himself to playing the sarangi.
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