Rao Harihar
{ "" }
Share Rao's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Harihar Rao
Jan. 21, 1927-Jan. 13, 2013

Born into a prominent musical family in Mangalore, India, Harihar Rao taught and performed on both tabla and sitar. A disciple of Ravi Shankar, he dedicated his life to the education, presentation, and preservation of the finest Indian classical music and dance with a legendary insistence on excellence at every level.

Known to most as a prolific concert organizer, his extensive knowledge and versatility were also exemplified as an educator and researcher; a recording and performing artist; a composer of film music; program producer for radio station KPFK; and an
author of books on Indian music.

As a Fulbright Scholar at UCLA in the 1960s, Harihar conducted research on comparative rhythms and developed a unique system for understanding Indian rhythmic systems. His expertise attracted many esteemed jazz musicians with whom he performed and recorded in a group called 'The Hindustani Jazz Sextet'. He also held positions as both an instructor and program director at universities including UCLA, Cal State Los Angeles, CalTech, California Institute of the Arts, and Cal State Long Beach.

In 1973, while on a tour of Occidental College in Los Angeles, Ravi Shankar and Harihar Rao visited Herrick Chapel. Upon stepping inside Ravi Shankar remarked, "I want to play here!" The two men founded The Music Circle on the spot and Harihar became President and Artistic Director, a position he maintained for 40 years.

Harihar Rao's sincere dedication and contributions have infused his name with the deepest respect and admiration of friends, students and fellow musicians, and insure him an esteemed legacy in the history of Indian music and arts.

A resident of Pasadena since 1964 and US citizen since 1969, he is survived by his beloved wife, Paula Turner Rao, a large family in India, and a host of dear friends. A public memorial will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013 from 2 PM to 4:30 PM in Thorne Hall at Occidental College. Please visit http://www.MusicCircle.org for details and reservations. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to The Music Circle in honor of Ravi Shankar and Harihar Rao would be appreciated.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Pasadena Star-News on Jan. 25, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
4 entries
April 10, 2013
Harihar Rao's contribution to popularizing and spreading Indian Classical Music in southern California via his teaching, performing and organizing concerts will always be remembered.
A. Sharma
February 6, 2013
I studied with Professor Rao as an undergraduate at Caltech. He was an
inspiring teacher of Indian music. His presentation of the verbal
language of rhythm (tabla boles) was a revelation to me. I've used the
rhythm insights from his teaching in my playing ever since with banjo,
bass guitar, Chinese violin and Chinese moon guitar. Harihar's skill
was making the classical Indian music theory perfectly relevant to all
other cultures. He was a very giving teacher and even invited the whole
class for dinner at his home. He was very gracious and treated each
student just like they were one of his family. I remember staying late
after class for a discussion one night with Professor Rao. We were
interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Richard Feynman dropping in
to chat with Professor Rao about a new bongo rhythm he was working on.
I then had the pleasure of sitting in on an informal concert between two
good friends who were both world class researchers and teachers in their
respective fields.
Richard Walker
February 2, 2013
Deeply sorry to hear the news of Shri. Rao's passing. This is a big blow to the music loving Indian community of Southern California.We will truly miss his charming personality and devoted service to the cause of music.
Ramani & Radhika, Whittier, CA
January 27, 2013
Paula: I was very sad to learn of HARIHAR's death. I remember him and you from our association in the early 1960's at Cal State LA when we were neighbors in Pasadena and I was Director of the Asian Studies Institute. He pioneered the introduction of Indian music in Southern California first and then America. I am proud to have known him and to work with him on our campus in these early efforts.

Dr. Thomas A.Rusch,Professor Emeritus,Political Science, Cal State LA
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences