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A photo provided by the Annapurna Devi Archive shows Annapurna Devi in an undated photo.VIA ANNAPURNA DEVI ARCHIVE/Annapurna Devi Archive via The New York Times

Annapurna Devi, a noted Indian musician and teacher whose decision to stop performing relatively early in her career made her something of an enigma, died on Oct. 13, in Mumbai. She was 91.

Ram Nath Kovind, India’s president, was among those noting her death.

“She was a rare talent and a generous teacher,” he said on Twitter. “Her life will always serve as a poignant inspiration for women artists.”

Ms. Devi learned at the feet of her father, Allauddin Khan, a revered figure in Indian classical music, and was married for years to one of his students, sitarist Ravi Shankar. She played the surbahar, often described as a bass sitar, a difficult instrument that few, if any, women of her era played. The small number of people lucky enough to hear her were amazed by her mastery of it.

She and Mr. Shankar, who died in 2012, played together a few times – after their concerts, she once said, fans seemed to respond more to her than to him. But by the early 1960s, she had stopped performing.

“Some hold that Raviji pressured her not to be in competition with his career,” George E. Ruckert, the author of five books on the music of India, said by e-mail, “but others simply comment that the concert and recording politics and travels of the modern musician were not to her liking.”

Whatever the case, Ms. Devi’s public appearances and interviews virtually ceased. Few recordings of her exist. Instead she became a sought-after teacher, passing along the classical traditions her father had conveyed to her.

“Because of her life of recluse, the contribution of Annapurna Devi is heard largely through her students, who were diverse of instrument and abilities,” said Mr. Ruckert, who studied under her brother, the sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, and is a senior lecturer emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “She was a very strict teacher, and hence not for everybody, but she turned out musicians of the highest calibre.”

She was born Roshanara Khan in April, 1927 (the exact date is unclear), in Maihar in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, to Allauddin Khan and Madina Begum. Her father was a court musician at the time, and she was given the name Annapurna Devi by the local maharajah.

She demonstrated musical aptitude as a young child, and her father began training her, alongside her brother and Mr. Shankar.

“They all learned the vocal arts of the old dhrupad tradition, wherein strict attention to the rhythmic design of the composition had to be followed in the improvised sections,” Mr. Ruckert wrote in his e-mail. That approach, he added, “was also applied to the instrumental style which they learned under his very thorough discipline.”

She married Mr. Shankar in 1941, when she was a teenager. Their approaches to music diverged over time, with Ms. Devi remaining a classical purist while Mr. Shankar, who would eventually catch the interest of George Harrison of the Beatles, was more exploratory and populist. They separated in the early 1960s and later divorced.

As a teacher, Ms. Devi chose her students carefully. Mr. Ruckert said those who studied under her told stories of arriving at her apartment in Mumbai for a lesson and being required to spend an hour in the warm-up room playing repetitive exercises before teaching even began.

“The great flutist (bansuri) Hariprasad Chaurasia once commented: ‘If I closed the door of the apartment incorrectly upon entering or departing, she would not see me for weeks!’” Mr. Ruckert said.

In 1982 Ms. Devi married Rooshikumar Pandya, one of her sitar students. He died in 2013. Her son with Mr. Shankar, Shubhendra Shankar, died in 1992.

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