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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Finding the Inner Calm through Music

Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar - 2014 Putturao Memorial Concert

Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar is a well-known musician and teacher as well as an acclaimed researcher in Carnatic music. She hails from Mysore and comes from a family of musicians. She did research on Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar krithis as well as musical instruments collected in the Mysore Palace many many years ago. She studied under maestros Vid. Ramaratnam and Vid. Gowri Kuppuswamy. She has been running her own music school as well as a publication under the name Surabhi. She is ably assisted by her daughter Dr. Sumana Vedanth in this concert. With doyens from Mysore on accompaniment - Sri.H.K. Narasimha Murthy on the violin and Sri G.S. Ramanujam on the mridangam as well as Sri Ramesh on Morsing, she presents here a consummate concert in characteristic style with palpable depth.

What characterises great Carnatic music? This is a debatable subject. But all our esteemed composers opine that really great music leads one to inner calm. If that is missing, music could well become a circus. 

Here, the Vidushi espouses this idea with choice songs, all presented in a sedate style, lacking nothing in Vidwat or musical appeal. Sonorous voices of the mother and daughter take turns in alapana and swaras and give us a wholesome fare.

The idea of inner calm is expressed beautifully by Saint Gopala Dasa in his song "ಏನು ಸುಖವೊ ಎಂಥಾ ಸುಖವೊ ಹರಿಯಧ್ಯಾನವ ಮಾಡುವರ ಸಂಗ", sung in Brindavani here. 

In this concert, there are wonderful compositions presented of famous composers in scintillating ragas. Two Kannada songs, one of them a Vachana, and a rarely heard Shanmukhapriya composition of Mysore Vasudevacharya, point to the Vidushi's expansive repertoire.

Concert Details
Sri K. Putturao Memorial Concert 2014 - jagan Mohan Palace, Mysore.
Sukanya Prabhakar - Vocal
Sumana Vedanth - Vocal Support
H.K. Narasimhamurthy - Violin
G.S. Ramanujam - Violin
Ramesh - Morsing
Date 2 September 2014

Song List
1. Shloka (Padma Purana) & Song-Neranammiti – Kanada Varnam – Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar
2. Sri Mahaganapathe – Nata – Mayuram Vishwanatha Shastry
3. Sabhapatiki – Abhogi – Gopalakrishna Bharathi
4. Sri Ranganayakam- Nayaki – Muthuswami Dikshitar
5. Enu Sukhav0 – Brindavani – Gopaladasa
6. Manamuto – Shanmukhapriya – Vasudevachar
7. Enage Bhoga Bhagya Beda – Durga –Muppina Shadakshari
8. Tam Tam Tam   - Khamach  Thillana -  Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer
9. Mangalam - Saint Thyagaraja

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Charm of Good Music


The season of Ramanavami concerts is here. Also hot weather, mangoes and nowadays, IPL. In the midst of all this, come and savour some delectable music from three superstars of Carnatic Music together - Maharajapuram, Lalgudi and Vellore. For those born after 1950, and who developed a taste for Carnatic music by their good fortune in the 60s-80s, these three names mean Vid. Santhanam, Vid. Jayaraman, and Vid. Ramabhadran!


What do we look for in a good Carnatic concert? Melody. Great songs. A team dynamic that makes each artiste build on others' music. A mood once born that lingers in our minds and hearts for long. Happy moments. A sense of devotion. All that is in plenty here. 

Lalgudi offers very creative responses to the tuneful vocal phrases, eliciting much appreciation. They both build up wonderful alapanas, niravals and swara exchanges. The audience response is vigorous. The mridangam strokes of Vellore Ramabhadran, as always, are like the cornerstones of an edifice - beautiful, sharp, strong and well-laid.

The song of Swathi Thirunal in Huseni needs special mention. Rarely heard, it showcases the composer-king's penchant for well-worded Sanskrit prayers to the Lord. 

रागः हुसेनी तालः आदि

श्रीरामचन्द्र! परिलस मम हृदि पारावारगम्भीर! श्रीराम !
- Dear Sri Rama! Please come and sport in my heart, Oh Lord as deep as the ocean!
करशोभितखरभेदनकरकार्मुक  करुणारसराजितनयन!
-Your hand is adorned by the mighty bow that vanquished Khara, your eyes are shining with compassion!
जानकीहृदयमॊहनविलसित! अम्बुजनाभ विभॊ! 
- You are charmingly adorning Devi Sita's heart! Oh Lord of the lotus navel!
भानुकुलज! दशवदननिशूदन! वानरादिपरिवॆष्टित! पावन!
- Oh, Scion of the Solar Dynasty! The destroyer of the ten-headed Ravana! Oh, Lord surrounded by Vanaras and others in your army! Oh, Lord who purifies and saves devotees!



Sri Ramanavami Festival, Parvathi, Mysore

Maharajapuram Santhanam - Vocal (accompanied by son)
Lalgudi Jayaraman - Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran - Mridangam

Date 6 April 1982

Song List

01. Dudukugala - Gaula Pancharatna - Thyagaraja
02. Seethamma Mayamma - vasantha - Thyagaraja
03. Toli Janma - Bilahari - Thyagaraja
04. Ardhanareeshwaram - Kumudakriya - Dikshitar
05. Samajavaragama - Hindola - Thyagaraja
06. Sri Rama Parllasa mama Hridi - Huseni - Swathi Thirunal
07. Etavunnara - Kalyani - Thyagaraja
08. Govinda - Janasammodini - Purandaradasa
09. Shloka - Ragamalika (Brindavansaranga, Mohana, Basant Bahar)
10. Basant Bahar Thillana - Maharajapuram Santhanam

Friday, March 10, 2023

His music is eternal

 Mandolin Shrinivas ((28 February 1969 – 19 September 2014)

The one and only Mandolin phenomenon, U.Shrinivas, was given the honour to perform at the Parvathi Silver Jubilee in 1994. Famous music personalities as well as cinestars  Vishnuvardhan and Ambareesh graced the occasion. The details are seen below.

When Shrinivas left us suddenly in 2014, the home of Parvathi was plunged into grief. A tribute was posted at that time, which is reproduced below.

A Tribute by Mysore Prabha

“U. Srinivas passed away” was the breaking news on TV. It was heart-breaking news for us.

Though Lalgudi Krishnan had already given us the shocking news, my mind just refused to accept the fact. How could this happen? Though we knew that he was ailing, we never doubted his recovery. But fate snatched U. Srinivas away from amidst us. To put it in renowned novelist and writer R. K. Narayan’s words, “He jumped the queue”. U. Srinivas has moved on to another world, leaving behind his prodigious, melodious, soul-stirring music for us to enjoy.

There is probably no other musician from India who attained national and international acclaim at such young age as U. Srinivas did. He was recognized as a child-prodigy when he started performing at a very young age of 8-10 years. He continued to be a prodigy even in his 40s, because, no other musician produced such wonderful music on the mandolin (the supposedly ill-suited instrument for carnatic classical music) like Srinivas did. It is to Srinivas’ credit that he has greatly popularized Indian music in western countries. He was always a crowd puller whenever and wherever he performed-in India or abroad. His music always pleased the connoisseur and the layman alike.

My family’s association with U. Srinivas dates back to 1984. It was on 10.4.84 that Srinivas first visited our home,”Parvathi”, in Mysore, to perform during the annual Ramanavami music festival conducted by my father, K. Srikantiah. He was a small-built lad and I remember the shy boy sitting on the carpet with his mandolin next to him, gazing and touching his mandolin continuously, as if afraid someone would snatch it away from him. He had no eyes for anything or anyone else and spoke only in monosyllables. The pandal next to our house and the roads surrounding it were jam-packed with music lovers waiting to listen to the highly acclaimed child prodigy. The little boy timidly got onto the stage – and then! The audience was transported to a heavenly world of music emanating from his magical fingers! Starting then, he gave about 8 to 10 concerts for us spread over two and a half decades. Surprisingly, despite all his name, fame and glory, he was still the same, child-like, humble Srinivas when he performed for our K. Puttu Rao music festival (Inaugural concert) in 2011. Little did we know that it would be his last concert for us, and also in Mysore. It was our privilege to honour Srinivas during our Silver Jubilee year Ramanavami festival in 1994. It warmed our hearts when Srinivas said in his speech that he considered himself one in our family.

U. Srinivas has left us after leading a highly worthy life in his short life span. He has achieved in about three decades what probably would take three births for others to achieve. The country and the Carnatic music world have lost one of its rarest gems. The Indian music world will forever be proud of its prodigious son- Mandolin Srinivas. There cannot be another Mandolin Srinivas.

My family and I pray that Lord Rama blesses Srinivas’ soul with eternal peace.


We are glad to share that Silver Jubilee concert recording here with rasikas.

Concert Details

U. Shrinivas - Mandolin
Mysore Nagaraj - Violin
T.K. Murthy - Mridangam
M.A. Krishnamurthy - Ghatam
Date: 20 April 1994

Song List
  1. Varnam - Todi -
  2. Vatapiganapathim - Hamsadhwani - Dikshitar
  3. Endaro mahanubhavulu - SriRaga Pancharatna - Thyagaraja
  4. Natajana Paripalana - Simhendramadhyamam - Thyagaraja
  5. Sadamadini - Gambhiravani - Thyagaraja
  6. Mohana Rama - Mohanam - Thyagaraja
  7. Tani - T.K. Murthy, M.A. krishnamurthy
  8. Tunga Teera - Yamuna Kalyani - Kamalesha Vitthala
  9. Venkatachalanilayam - Sindhu Bhairavi - Purandaradasa
  10. Karpagame - Madhyamavati - Papanasam Sivan
  11. Brindavani Thillana - Lalgudi Jayaraman
  12. Mangalam

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Amara - Madhura - Sundara : Timeless Gems from Somu

Vid. Madurai Somasundaram - Gems from many Parvathi Concerts

Spring is in the air. The Parvathi Ramanavami Pandal is all set up. The deities are shining in their full glory surrounded by garlands and a shower of Parijata flowers. The hall is full of eager rasikas. And who is going to sing today? Of course, Vid. Madurai Somu!

Imagine this scene which was repeated year after year in the heritage home. Students came for the April concerts unmindful of their exam schedules. The Mysore Police were happy to regulate the traffic and allow the concert to go on far into the night. The best of accompanists exerted themselves to match the maestro in his energetic Manodharma, on-the-spot improvisations, audience-regaling antics, endless repertoire, niravals and swaras that took your breath away, and the constant spirit of "let's sing better, let's actualize Rama, Devi, Shanmukha or whichever deity we want right here, right now!"

This timeless experience is being presented in our Finale with selections from many concerts spread over many years. Lalgudi, Chalakudi, MC and... on the violin. Raghu, Dorai,... on the mridangam. The best of ghatam and khanjira accompaniment too. What more can you ask for?

The major ragas in this upload? A Kalyani to bring Devi dancing. A Kharaharapriya to make Sri Rama smile from his Mandapa. A series of songs that will make Shanmukha's peacock dance!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Free Spirit called MLV

Dr. M.L. Vasanthakumari (1928-1990)

The music lovers of the home called Parvathi, and the large audiences that enjoyed the concerts conducted there for many decades, simply loved the music of Dr M.L.Vasanthakumari or MLV as she is famous. 

Take any aspect of Carnatic music, MLV was great. A true all-rounder, no less. Endowed with a vibrant and pliant voice and trained by the best in the classical field, she also inherited a great interest in Dasara Padas. More than anything else, she was a soaring free spirit in creativity. This sums up MLV. 

Today, we see a plethora of lady stars in Carnatic music. Many have doctorates. many specialise in singing a variety of music formats. Each has carved a niche. But we can't think of anyone in our midst that can be compared to that original free spirit among lady singers - MLV.

In those times, there was the famous trinity - MSS, DKP and MLV. Much younger than the other two, MLV made a mark in every concert for her creativity and free exploration of manodharma elements. She was equally at home rendering an RTP or singing any type of krithi in any language. When someone talks of MLV and her greatness, we need not search for explanations of who backed her or how she came up. It was sheer talent that struck you from the word go.

In this concert, there are two outstanding raga delineations - Mohanam and Bhairavi. The Bhairavi RTP is one for the archives. And the violinist, Dr Kanyakumari, shines brilliantly with her accompanying phrases, her solo pieces, and the heroic way she wields her bow.

The concert has a large number of songs on offer in many languages and many moods.

The very famous Purandara Dasa krithi Jaya Jaya Jaya Janakikantha comes as the second song. We feel we should spend a little time appreciating the words.

(Copied from the compilation by Dr. Aralumallige Parthasarathy)

Those who have read the Valmiki epic know how Sage Narada introduces the personality of Sri Rama to Sage Valmiki. The short version of Ramayana he tells Valmiki forms an important part of the Ramayana tradition. Similarly, Saint Purandara Dasa has covered every aspect of Sri Rama's story in this krithi.

"The beloved of Sita, the succour of the pure and humble souls, Sri Rama is the great hero of our Dharma. He is the dutiful son of Dasharatha, the hero who vanquished the ten-headed Ravana! A dear friend of Lord Shiva, Sri Rama was the embodiment of purity in conduct. Handsome like Manmatha, expert in diplomacy and astuteness, Sri Rama was incomparable in valour! Lover of the best of music (Sama Gana), devoted to caring for the good souls on earth, Sri Rama fulfils our every true wish and reminds us of the magnificent ocean by his serene demeanour. He, as the incarnation of Bhagavan, is the subject of all scriptures. Sri Rama grants the worthy souls liberation!"

Come, let us enjoy this wonderful vintage classic of an MLV concert!

Concert Details
Ramanavami 1979.
M.L. Vasanthakumari - Vocal
A. Kanyakumari - Violin
Tanjore Krishnamurthy Rao - Mridangam
? - Khanjira
Date 15 April 1979

Song List

01_Namami Vighnavinayaka - Hamsadhwani - Krishnaswamy Ayya
02_Jaya Jaya Janakikantha- Nata - Purandara Dasa
03_Enta Ranee - Harikambhoji - Thyagaraja
04_Entani vinnavintura - Urmika - Pallavi Sesha Aiyyar
05_Rama ninnu nammina-Mohanam- Thyagaraja
06_Sridhara pahi Dayakara Vedasugochara 
Giridhara- Jayanthashri - Mysore Vasudevacharya
07_Bhairavi Ragam Tanam Pallavi (Tanam in Pancha Ghana Ragas)
08_Uga Bhoga - Shivaranjani- Purandara Dasa
09_Yamanelli Kananendu - Shivaranjani - Purandara Dasa
(Mohanam,Gavati,Yamuna Kalyani, Sindhu Bhairavi)Ashtapadhi- Jayadeva 
11_Sharanu Ninage - Pahadi and other ragas- Purandara Dasa
14_Jagadoddharana - Kapi - Purandara Dasa
15_Mohana Kalyani Thillana - Lalgudi Jayaraman

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Excellence of Flute in Carnatic Music - Vid. N. Ramani

Vid. N. Ramani - Sri Ramanavami 1980

The world of Carnatic music is best described in two words - Sangeeta and Sahitya. The compositions of the great vaggeyakaras are like mantras that invoke the Nada Brahmam in us as we listen to a chaste rendition of their songs.

But as सङ्गीतरत्नाकर declares, गीतं वाद्यं तथा नृत्यं  त्रयं सङ्गीतमुच्यते - the trinity of Song, Instrument and Dance is Sangeeta.

The Srimad Bhagavatam declares that as soon as Sage Narada received spiritual instruction from his father, Lord Brahma, he began travelling the three worlds, singing the glory of Sri Hari, accompanying himself on the Veena!

But what about pure instrumental music? The instrumental soloists have etched a permanent place for themselves in Carnatic music. Notable among them, and the favourites of the home of Parvathi, were Vid. Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vid. Chitti Babu, Vid. Mandolin Shrinivas, and, last but not the least, Vid. N. Ramani.

The Wikipedia informs us that Vid. Ramani was born into a musician family in Tiruvarur. He learnt the art of the flute from his maternal uncle and legend Vid. Mali, and carved a significant place for himself with the best of the gayaki style of Carnatic music combining his instrumental virtuosity with adherence to the Pathantara of songs rendered by the best vocalists of the time.

In this concert, Vid. Ramani is accompanied by the maestro Vid. M. Chandrasekharan on the violin, Vid. Vellore Ramabhadran on the mridangam and Vid. M.A. Krishnaswamy on the ghatam. The repeated exclamations of "Bhale", 'Bhesh", and "Kya Baat Hai" can be heard peppering the wonderful flow of music. Notable renditions are Hindolam, with wonderful essays by the flute and violin, and also Kharaharapriya, an eternal favourite of Sri. K. Srikantiah.

Concert Details

Ramanavami 1980
N. Ramani - Flute
M. Chandrasekharan - Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran - Mridangam
M.A. Krishnamurthy - Ghatam
Date 26 March 1980

Song List
1. Chani Todi Teve - Harikambhoji - Thyagaraja
2. Sri Narada Nada - Kanada - Thyagaraja
3. Enta Muddo - Bindumalini- Thyagaraja
4. Manasulo Ni Marmamu - Hindolam - Thyagaraja
5. Palintuvo - Kantamani - Thyagaraja
6. Rama Nee Samanamevaru - Kharaharapriya - Thyagaraja
7. Ni Dayache Rama? - Yadukula Kambhoji - Thyagaraja
8.  Bhajan- Shivaranjani
9. Bhajan - Sindu Bhairavi
10. Arumugam Arumugam - Kuntalavarali- Arunagirinathar (Thiruppugazh)

(The recording is 42 years old and any shortcomings may be kindly excused.)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Sudha Raghunathan – A Worthy Inheritor and a Shining Star

Padma Bhushan Vid. Sudha Raghunathan - Sri Ramanavami 2005

The mantle of the MLV bani sits lightly on the most successful lady musician on the Carnatic scene of the past 30 years. Vid. Sudha Ragunathan has performed at the Madras Music Season every year since 1990, the very year in which her Guru Dr. ML Vasanthakumari breathed her last. 

In 2013 she was awarded the Sangita Kalanidhi of the Madras Music Academy. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honour, in January 2015. 

Her charities are very well known, carried out by her trust. Her musical collaborations, from performing with Dr. Balamuralikrishna to joining groups that created world music, are prolific and fascinating.

Vid. Sudha’s energy, charm and creativity were on full display during the Covid lockdown. She conducted a number of exciting sessions with musicians and other personalities of all ages in a warm tête-à-tête style. She even had live cooking sessions on her YouTube channel, where she sang and cooked at the same time!

We have featured several concerts of Vid. Sudha Raghunathan in the Parvathi blog already. She has been a regular in our festivals and a much acclaimed star for the Parvathi audiences.

In this 2005 concert, Vid. Sudha presents a rich bouquet of songs from many composers. Her easy style of reaching top octave notes is on display early in the concert. . All the accompanists are established names from Karnataka. Her essay of Todi and the song Chesinadella are captivating. Behind her ease in negotiating the high notes and an easy fluidity characteristic of her music lies hidden her lifelong Sadhana in a successful journey prophesied by none other than Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba.

Concert Details

 Sudha Raghunathan - Vocal
 Mysore V. Srikanth - Violin 
 C. Cheluvaraj - Mridangam 
 M.A. Krishnamurthy - Ghatam 
 Date 21 April 2005 
 Sri Ramanavami Festival conducted at the home of "Parvathi"

Song List

  1. Viriboni – Bhairavi Atatala Varnam – Pachimiriyam Adiyappayya
  2. Gajavadana Beduve – Hamsadhvani – Purandara Dasa 
  3. Ramanatham Bhajeyam – Pantuvarali – Muthuswami Dikshitar 
  4. Mokshamu Galada – Saramathi – Thyagaraja 
  5. Bhavayami Raghuramam – Ragamalika – Swathi Thirunal 
  6. Dayarani – Mohana – Thyagaraja 
  7. Akhilandeshwari – Dwijavanthi – Muthuswami Dikshitar 
  8. Vidajaladura – Janaranjani – Thyagaraja
  9. Jesinadella Marachitivo – Todi – Thyagaraja 
  10. Kurai Onrum Illai – Ragamalika – C. Rajagopalachari 
  11. Maneyinda Santhosha – Ugabhoga – Yamuna Kalyani – Sripadaraja 
  12. Hari Smarane Mado –Yamuna Kalyani – Purandara Dasa 
  13. Brahmam Okate – Bowli - Annamacharya 
  14. Mangalam
ಉಗಾಭೋಗದ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ: 
ಮನೆಯಿಂದ ಸಂತೋಷ ಕೆಲವರಿಗೆ ಲೋಕದಲಿ 
ಧನದಿಂದ ಸಂತೋಷ ಕೆಲವರಿಗೆ ಲೋಕದಲಿ 
ವನಿತೆಯಿಂದ ಸಂತೋಷ ಕೆಲವರಿಗೆ ಲೋಕದಲಿ 
ತನಯನಿಂದ ಸಂತೋಷ ಕೆಲವರಿಗೆ ಲೋಕದಲಿ 
ಇನಿತು ಸಂತೋಷ ಅವರವರಿಗಾಗಲಿ ನಿನ್ನ ನೆನೆವೋ ಸಂತೋಷ ಎನಗಾಗಲಿ ನಮ್ಮ ರಂಗವಿಠ್ಠಲ ॥