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SAGA CORNER

Centenary of renowned Carnatic vocalist M.S.Subbulakshmi

Srimathumitha_getting_a_prize_From_M.S.Subbulakshmi_Amma””Who am I, a mere Prime Minister before a Queen, a Queen of Music,”” said India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru  about M.S. Subbulakshmi while Lata Mangeshkar called her Tapaswini (the Renunciate), Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan termed her Suswaralakshmi (the goddess of the perfect note), and Kishori Amonkar labelled her the ultimate eighth note or Aathuvaan Sur, which is above the seven notes basic to all music. The great national leader and poet Sarojini Naidu called her “”Nightingale of India””. But, right through she remained the simple Tamil lady with the shining diamond nose ring and which connoisseur of music can ever forget her many famous renditions of bhajans including the chanting of Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu sahasranama (1000 names of Vishnu), Hari Tuma Haro and the Venkateswara Suprabhatam (musical hymns to awaken Lord Balaji early in the morning).

The current year marks her birth centenary having been born on September 16, 1916, in Madurai  which was in the than Madras Presidency  to veena player Shanmukavadiver Ammal and Subramania Iyer. Her grandmother Akkammal was a violinist. Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi  popularly known as M.S. was the first musician ever to be awarded the country’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna in 1998. Yet another honour bestowed on was that she was the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia’s Nobel Prize  in 1974 with the citation reading “”Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India.”” Known affectionately as Kunjamma to her family, Subbulakshmi had her early training in Carnatic music under the tutelage of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and subsequently in Hindustani music under Pandit Narayanrao Vyas.

Her musical interests were also shaped by regular interactions with renowned carnatic musicians like Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavathar and Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. A child prodigy, Subbulakshmi gave her first public performance, at the age of eleven in  1927,  at the 100 pillar hall inside the Rockfort Temple, Tiruchirappalli. In 1936 she moved to Madras (now Chennai) where she made her film debut in Sevasadan in 1938 opposite F. G. Natesa Iyer who had introduced her as a child prodigy to the world of Carnatic music a decade earlier, in Tiruchirappalli. M.S. Subbulakshmi began her Carnatic classical music training under her mother Shanmugavadivu and later in Hindustani classical training under Pandit Narayan Rao Vyas. Subbulakshmi first recording was released when she was 10 years old.

Two years after her performance at Tiruchi, Subbulakshmi gave her first in Madras at the prestigious Madras Music Academy in 1929,when she was 13 years old which was a break from the tradition followed by the Music Academy and her  performance was described as spellbinding and earned her many admirers and the moniker of musical genius from critics. By the age of seventeen, Subbulakshmi was giving concerts on her own, including major performances at the Madras Music Academy. She travelled to London, New York, Canada, the Far East, and other places as India’s cultural ambassador. She was among the select Indian vocalist to sing at the UN General Assembly on UN day in 1966. After the death of her husband Kalki Sadasivam in 1997, she stopped all her public performances till she passed away on December 11, 2004 at the age of 88.”

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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