/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": A friendship strong as diamond

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A friendship strong as diamond

January 22nd, 2010
Two veterans, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman and Sri K. Srikantiah
greet each other in the Maestro's house in Chennai!

It was circa 1948.

The Bidaram Krishnappa Prasanna Seetharama Mandiram of Mysore was featuring the redoubtable GNB in the annual Ramanavami festival. The organizers had also invited a young violinist from Madras to accompany the star. This youngster, sporting the traditional tuft (kudumi), was still in his teens, and yet was already making waves with his prowess on the violin. But that day, he wasn’t destined to go on stage in the GNB concert. The reason? GNB had brought along his own set of accompanists from Madras, including another violinist. It was indeed a disappointment for the young lad named Jayaraman.

But Jayaraman surprised everyone with his decision to stay back, and he sat through the concert as a member of the audience. He happened to sit next to another teenager, the son of Mr. K. Puttu Rao who was then the President of the Rama Mandiram. The youngsters broke the ice and exchanged notes, and soon were friends. Thus was born a friendship between Advocate K. Srikantiah and Vidwan Lalgudi G. Jayaraman. It grew decade after decade like a huge Parijatha tree, being a friendship built on mutual affection and respect for each other’s qualities of excellence. This bond of friendship between an epochal musical genius and a musical connoisseur and patron is now past its diamond jubilee, i.e. more than 60 years.

One can paraphrase Shakespeare while describing this association between K. Srikantiah and Vidwan Lalgudi G. Jayaraman; “age cannot wither nor custom stale its infinite variety”. And after that initial occasion when Jayaraman was sitting in the audience, there would be countless occasions when GNB would ask for the violin accompaniment of Lalgudi Jayaraman and the rasikas would be treated to a double delight.
January 22nd, 2010
Another picture of the Srikantiahs together with the Jayaramans!

During the marriage ceremony of Mr. Srikantiah, Vidwan Lalgudi G. Jayaraman accompanied Vidwan T.K. Rangachari in the concert featured at Parvathi. A photograph taken in this concert has been included in the documentary film on Vidwan Lalgudi G. Jayaraman. Recently, a commemorative volume has been brought out titled “Lalgudi 80”. That book also features this photograph.

Mr. Srikantiah recalls that Vidwan Jayaraman’s wedding was held in Salem in the same period and he would have loved to attend the function, but could not do so on account of some family preoccupations. Mr Srikantiah recalls that a veena concert of Vidwan S. Balachander had been arranged during Lalgudi’s marriage ceremony.

Lalgudi has come and played in Parvathi year after year as a soloist as well as accompanist. He has given solo violin concerts and also violin duet with his son G.J.R. Krishnan and later with his daughter Vijayalakshmi. He has also accompanied stalwarts like GNB, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Madurai Mani Iyer, T.K.Rangachari, K.V. Narayanaswamy, Madurai Somasundaram, Balamuralikrishna, Maharajapuram Santhanam, and others.

In 1986, a grand function was organized in Krishna Gana Sabha to celebrate the 50th solo concert appearance of Vidwan Lalgudi G. Jayaraman at that Sabha. The function was attended by the glitterati of the musical world and fine arts. Lata Mangeshkar, a close friend of the violin maestro, represented Bombay. The doyens Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and M. S. Subbulakshmi represented Tamil Nadu. The Travancore Ilayaraja represented Kerala. Dr. K. Pinakapani represented Andhra. Mr. Srikantiah, whose family were invited and hosted graciously by the organizers, represented Karnataka.

In later years, a musical archive project was undertaken by the Indian Foundation for Performing Arts to commemorate Lalgudi Jayaraman’s achievement. Mr. Jayaraman himself suggested to the Managing Director of the project, Ms. Padmasani, that Mr.Srikantiah be interviewed in that regard. We share below a letter from Ms. Padmasani to Mr. Srikantiah thanking him for the contribution to this project through his sharing the memories of his association with the violin maestro.

Mr. Srikantiah recalls he has been in frequent touch over all these years with the maestro and they have always had something to share with each other. Once he heard over the radio how Vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman had won the Best Violinist award in some European City music festival and immediately phoned the maestro. The maestro himself had not received the news yet and was delighted to get the good news from such a close friend.

We also add some more spontaneous comments from Mr. Srikantiah on Padma Vibushan Lalgudi Jayaraman

"...I tell you Lalgudi’s violin is really something else…the melody that he produces is simply out of this world…he will take that raaga’s Jiva and squeeze it completely of it’s rasa…I will really play some concerts for you to hear what I am saying …"

"... a truly great man…no bad habits…I used to see him when he used to live in Saidapet having moved from Lalgudi…his father Shri Gopala Iyer used to be in that house before they moved to T’Nagar and I used to go there to pay my respects …. "

We are also delighted to share with listeners some excerpts from a solo concert in Parvathi (distinct solo pieces from the concert on April 13, 1984 with Vellore Ramabhadran and H.P. Ramachar (kanjira) )

[ 1-Enduku Peddala-Shankarabharanam -Thyagaraja; 2-Ragamalika Pallavi; 3-Bageshri Bhajan and Misra Shivaranjani Tilllana ]

and a full-fledged scintillating 1975 “Parvathi”concert with the “Pithamaha” Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer

[ 01-Devadeva-Mayamalavagowla-Swati Tirunal; 02-Dwaithamu-Reetigowla-Thyagaraja; 03-Pahimam-Janaranjani-Mahavaidyanatha Sivan; 04-Kamakshi-Bhairavi swarajati-Shyama Shastri; 05-Biranabrova-Kalyani-Tarangampadi Panchanada Iyer; 06-Teliyaleru-Dhenuka-Thyagaraja; 07-Kshinamai-Mukhari-Thyagaraja; 08-Srimathrubhotham-Raga Kannada-Muthuswami Dikshitar; 09-Ramaneesamana-Kharaharapriya-Thyagaraja; 10-RTP-Todi; 11-Ramajogi-Kamas- Bhadrachala Ramdas; 12-Mangalam ]

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer-Lalgudi Jayaraman-Vellore Ramabhadran-V.R.Krishnan


“… you know for years whenever Semmangudi came … he would usually stay in our house when he would come for AIR auditions and he would come with the office bearer of the Music Academy Subbarao … I would drive him all around Mysore … This started when I was hardly eighteen with no driver’s license also. We would sleep in the corner room … and then every time at 5 o’clock in the morning he would wake me up …’ Srikantiah get up … get up ... I am going to sing now … and I want you to listen’ … this was the atmosphere … how could I escape this personality and his music? ... ”

[All text in this posting is excerpted from R.Sachi’s "Recorded Conversations with Kunigal Srikantiah" (a private collection) ]