Ushered in North Indian classical music to U.S.

Ali Akbar Khan, who helped introduce North Indian classical music to the United States, died June 18 in San Anselmo, Calif. He was 87.

Khan played the sarode, a stringed lute-like instrument with a deep sound that is part of the Hindustani music tradition, a genre made famous in the West by sitarist Ravi Shankar.

Khan was born in what is today Bangladesh and held his first performance in the United States in 1955. He opened a music school in Berkeley in 1967, later moving it to San Rafael.

In 1997, he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship, considered America’s highest award for traditional folk arts and crafts.

Khan is survived by his wife, Mary, and 11 children from his present and two former marriages.

Three of his sons, Aashish, who teaches Indian music at the California Institute of the Arts, and Alam and Manik, are sarod players.

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