S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Madurai Mani Iyer

25.10.1912 - 8.6.1968
Birthdays & Anniversaries

His music was sweetness personified and his voice had a bell like tonal purity. The name of Madurai city has come down from Madhura, or ‘sweetness’, and ‘Mani’, an abbreviation of the name ‘Subramaniam’, means a ‘bell’, among other things. These two words sum up Madurai Mani Iyer so perfectly. Add the simplicity with which he presented his music and it was music as it ought to be sung, appealing to the cognoscenti and lay audiences alike. A man who asked nothing more of life than the ability to sing, Madurai Mani Iyer was an all-time great, an icon whose fan following continues to increase decades after his physical form left us. 

Born on 25th October 1912 at Madurai, Mani Iyer came from a well-known music family of the temple town. His father’s brother, Madurai Pushpavanam Iyer, was the reigning star of the early years of the last century. His premature death ended a potentially brilliant career. Mani’s father, Ramaswami Iyer, an employee of the District Court at Madurai, was highly respected for his knowledge in the theoretical aspects of music. His mother, Subbulakshmi Ammal, was a good singer. Mani Iyer was the only son among their four children. 

The musical atmosphere at home was encouraging and soon Mani learnt all his father could teach him. He was sent to Rajam Bhagavatar, a disciple of Ettayapuram Ramachandra Bhagavatar. The tutelage continued for two years, at the end of which Rajam Bhagavatar took employment at the Tyagaraja Vidyalaya, a music school founded by Harikesanallur L Muthiah Bhagavatar in Madurai. 

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