Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer
Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer
He was also considered the "Pitamaha" or the grand sire of modern Carnatic Music. He was born in Thirukkodikaval, Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, India, as the third son of Radhakrishna Iyer and Dharmasamvardhini Ammal. He lived with his maternal uncle Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer, a legendary violin maestro, until the age of four and, after his death, moved to his parents' home in Semmangudi, Thanjavur District. At the age of eight he started learning music from his cousin Semmangudi Narayanaswamy Iyer and underwent musical apprenticeship with Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer. In 1926, he performed his first music recital at Kumbakonam.
He was known for producing soulful music, highly creative and yet very orthodox, despite a recalcitrant voice. He was instrumental, along with Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, for work on the krithis of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma. After attending one of his concerts in 1934, Maharani Sethu Parvati Bai of Travancore was so impressed by his talent and scholarship that she invited him to come to Thiruvananthapuram to edit and popularise the compositions of Swati Tirunal. He succeeded Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar as Principal of the Swathi Thirunal College of Music at Thiruvananthapuram, a post he held for 23 years, until the age of 55. At this age, he handed over his responsibilities to another Carnatic legend, G.N.Balasubramanian and at the behest of the Government of India, became the Chief Producer of Carnatic music at All India Radio, Madras from 1957 to 1960.
In later life, he concentrated on concert performances and tutoring youngsters. His gave public concerts even after the age of 90. Semmangudi was widely renowned for his virtuosity as a concert performer. He was famous for the meticulous planning that he put into every concert, including the choice of krithis, raagas and duration. He was also widely acknowledged as a master of improvisation, particularly in the form of niravals. Semmangudi was well-known for his uncharacteristically nasal voice in an era when practically every prominent Carnatic singer had an impeccable voice.
In his youth, famous kanjira performer, Dhakshinamurti Pillai commented to his brother and teacher, "His voice is as melodious as the noise created when a coconut shell is scraped on a rock. Don't bother to give him vocal training. Let him learn to play the violin." Despite such criticism, Semmangudi worked hard to improve his voice through practice and rigorous training. In the end, his natural talent for music emerged victorious over his deficient voice and he became a phenomenon in the Carnatic world. His singing style has been widely followed, and his prominent disciples include Sangeetha Kalanidhis, M.S.
Subbulakshmi, T. M. Thyagarajan and violinist, Prof. T.
N. Krishnan. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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