S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

V. Subrahmaniam

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Subrahmaniam was born on 6 November 1934 to Meenakshi and S. Vaidyanatha Iyer in the Princely State of Tiruvananthapuram. The immediate family saw great promise in the child, when he identified ragas and picked up songs naturally without any formal training. His musical career formally began in 1951 at the age of 17 (somewhat late compared to the rush of today’s young prodigies), under the tutelage of Prof. Sankara Iyer from the Swati Tirunal Music Academy. Despite the late start, he soon went on to give his maiden performance in 1953, such was his confidence and performance skill. His real break came in 1956 when he came under the wing of the doyen and ace teacher, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, with whom he was closely associated for the next 50 years until Semmangudi passed away.

Subrahmaniam remained deeply devoted to his guru learning innumerable kritis and honing his music from years of association and absorption. By his own admission, he learnt many a subtle nuance and phrase while giving vocal support to his guru which he did for four decades. He held his guru’s pathantaram to be sacrosanct, never altering a single note from the way Semmangudi taught him. He gave vent to his creativity while exploring ragas, singing niraval and swara sancharas and won much applause during Semmangudi’s concerts when the guru as was his wont with his students, allowed him manodharma interludes. Subrahmaniam’s raga delineations were filled with bhava while never losing sight of the inherent grammar. He often remarked that music should be so as to touch the heart, not just an intellectual exercise.

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