Santoor virtuoso Shiv Kumar Sharma dies at 84; ‘cultural world poorer,’ says Modi

Veteran santoor player and music composer Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma died in Mumbai on Tuesday morning following a heart attack, his family has said. He was 84.

“He had a severe heart attack at around 9 am… He was active and was to perform in Bhopal next week. He was on regular dialysis but was still was active,” the family source told PTI.

Sharma was also suffering from renal ailments

One of the country’s celebrated classical musicians, Sharma, a Padma Vibhushan awardee is said to be the first to have played the santoor, traditionally a folk instrument, on the Hindustani classical stage, and introduced it on the global platform.


Born in Jammu, to Uma Dutt Sharma, a singer, Sharma was initiated into music early in life. He learned vocals and table from his father when he was five years old and switched to santoor at the age of 12. He gave his debut performance at the age of 17 in 1955.

He made his Bollywood debut with the background score in Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, a 1956 film by V Shantaram.

Recording his first solo album in 1960, Sharma released his first hit – a musical album called Call of the Valley – in 1967, in which he had collaborated with flautish Hari Prasad Chaurasia and guitarist Brij Bhusan Kabra.

As a composer, he was half of the Shiv-Hari duo, the other half being flautist Hari Prasad Chaurasia. Along with Chaurasia, he has composed music for films including Faasle (1985), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), and Darr (1993), all directed by Yash Chopra.

Fraternity sends condolences

The music fraternity, Bollywood and politicians condoled the death of the santoor player, with Twitter getting flooded with tributes.

Sitar virtuoso Amjad Ali Khan called his demise “the end of an era.”

“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 tweeted.

“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,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

“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. RIP,” tweeted actor Shabana Azmi.

Salim Merchant of the music composer duo Salim-Suleiman also expressed his condolences to the bereaved family.