/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": Harking Back to the Golden Era of the Voice : 'Ganakaladhara' Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Harking Back to the Golden Era of the Voice : 'Ganakaladhara' Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer

[ Courtesy: Arvindsdad Blogpost ]

The "Parvathi" team is back from their sabbatical! And with a bang. Not the bang associated with Diwali crackers or modern rock stars. We are talking of the high point of musical excellence that suffused the milieu of the 1950's and 1960's.

Let us not forget that these decades witnessed the most glorious era of Carnatic vocal music. The veritable doyens were holding court. And youngsters were coming up, those talented enough to peep out from under the canopy of these stalwarts.. be it in accompaniment or solo performance.

Is it a coincidence that Hindi film music of the '50s and 60's stands for the very best in pure vocal excellence, shorn of digital enhancements and airbrushed glamour of today? In the '50s and '60s, Carnatic music too had only rudimentary mike amplification. Avid listeners would throng the small halls, and get a crick in the neck getting a glimpse of the performers on stage. And each stalwart would pour out wonderful soul-stirring music over many hours that had the stamp of his or her unique style. Listeners would not be thinking of MP3 and You Tube. They lived in the moment.

And the purest ray serene of this effulgence in vocal music is Ganakaladhara Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer (1912-1968). He had a voice that clicked from the first note in a concert. He did not cause headaches for the accompanists nor fatigue to the audience with pyrotechnics. He gave melody its true place. His voice was always sruti-aligned, a kind of yogic “samatwa” that Lord Krishna talks of in the Bhagavadgita. He was so obviously enjoying the melody and the intrinsic laya in any composition that he would only embellish it, not hide it nor distort it with his extrapolated manodharma.

It is perhaps some indication that there have been NO me-too Madurai Manis. Like there has been no Hemant Kumar again nor again a master poet in the mould of Walt Whitman. Another interesting aspect that many veterans who have heard Madurai Mani Iyer's music always say is that they think of is his version as they hum their favourite songs, be it in Tamil, Telugu or Sanskrit. His ever-tuneful, clear, and balanced presentation brought out the lyrical beauty in the song most eloquently.

And now for the Parvathi concert. Held during the Ganesha Festival in 1963 – 47 years ago! - the concert has grand accompaniment. None other than T. Chowdiah on the violin, and a spirited Umayalpuram Sivaraman on the mridangam. It seems that day Vidwan Mani Iyer was running a high temperature. But he was not to be deterred, and presented a grand concert. He began with Vatapi, in obeisance to Lord Vighneshwara, and continued with Diwakara Tanujam.. a song in praise of Lord Shaneeshwara. With their double blessings, the concert turned out to be a memorable one, Coincidentally, this year the Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated on September 11, Saturday! So Ganesha and Shani are both coming together to bless us again!

As if on cue, both Chowdiah and Sivaraman go to great lengths in their turn to embellish the concert and we have many interesting moments in the Ragamalika after the Pallavi as well as in other songs.

Concert Details

Madurai Mani Iyer ----Vocal
Vocal accompaniment -Vembu Iyer
T. Chowdiah ---------Violin
Umayalapuram K Sivaraman -----Mridangam
Sheshagiri Das ------Khanjira

"Parvathi" Ganesha Festival on August 23, 1963
For a photograph please click here

[Note: Only a few pieces of this distinguished concert were posted earlier on the blog since the audio tape was corroded, but with some effort we have now managed to restore a semblance of the whole ]

1. Vatapi Ganapathim-Hamsadhwani- Muthuswami Dikshithar *** 2. Diwakara Tanujam -Yadukula Kambhoji -Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 3. Enta bhagyamu -Saranga – Thyagaraja*** 4. Brochevarevarura - Khamach – Mysore Vasudevachar*** 5. Seethamma Mayamma – Vasantha – Thyagaraja*** 6. Vallabha Nayakasya- Begade – Muthuswami Dikshithar 7. Mahaganapathim – Thodi – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 8. Darini – Shuddha Saveri – Thyagaraja*** 9. Sarasamukhi-Gowda malhar- Muthiah Bhagavathar*** 10.Ragam Thanam Pallavi in Simhendramadhyama followed by Ragamalika*** 11. Virutham Dhanyasi, Shloka-Hamsanandi-Thiruppuzhal*** 12. Vellai tamarai – Bhimplas – Subrahmanya Bharathi*** 13. English note – HM Bhagavathar***

In case the audio doesn't play, please click here

Felicitation of artists by Musicologist and Veena Virtuoso M Cheluvarayaswamy.

( also please click here for an earlier posting )

Festival food being served in "Parvathi"?
Participating (L to R): Krisna Gana Sabha Secretary Yagnaraman, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Veena C Krishnamurthy, Vellore Ramabhadran, Yesudas, Mrs. Yesudas (Prabha)


Sri. Krishna Vattam happens to be one of Karnataka’s and Mysore’s most reputed journalists. His contributions over several of these decades , starting from the early 50s, are about as wide and varied as his multifarious interest in causes. One can catch a glimpse of him here or perhaps here or one can take their pick over a lifetime’s compilation from any of the Internets search engines.

Recently, Sri Vattam picked up his pen to re-live a certain glorious past and wrote to The Editor, The Star of Mysore on July 25, 2010. We are honored to reproduce his words, below:


As I was reading M.R. Shivanna's write-up titled "Great musicians on blog", the blog titled as "A Home called Parvati" (SOM dated July 21), I was reliving the past.

It was not a mere dwelling house built with brick and cement but true to its name the Home had a distinct character, the like of which we can find in two or three homes in Lakshmipuram.

I was lucky to have attended from 1960 all concerts arranged on the occasion of Ganesha Chaturthi and Sri Ramanavami. They were literally a treat for all music lovers.

If MS, MLV, DKP, Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, Semmanagudi, Madurai Mani Iyer, Madurai Somasundaram, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Par-weena Sultana, Lakshmi Shankar came out with soulful divine vocal recitals, there were giants like Violinist T. Chowdaiah, Flute Mahalingam, to mention a few, who elevated the 'bhava' of the listeners.

While the Ganesha festival concerts were held in the hall in Parvati, Sri Ramanavami concerts were being arranged in the open space abutting the Home. What was striking about Parvati was the divinity that permeated the premises, inspiring the artistes to feel a sense of bliss as they rendered. The open ground where Sri Ramanavami concerts were organised was in no way less in importance in the awesome ambience it was graced with. A photo, very big in size, of SriRamachandra, Seetha, Lakshmana, Satrugna and Hanuman used to be placed on the dais and a parijata tree just above the photo, serving as it were a divine umbrella, was dropping its fragrant flowers on the photo to the sweet strains of music, evoking a feeling of "ananda."

All good things should come to an end, they say. Parvati had its "anthya". K. Srikantiah's passion was to make people listen to good music and he found supreme satisfaction if the rasikas enjoyed it. It was good of him to have made use of the online technology so as to enable lovers to continue to listen to the music of stalwarts. However, the blog needs to be updated and concerts of all artistes mentioned in the blog may be posted there.

� Krishna Vattam