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Monday, September 16, 2013

Google doodle on legendary MS Subbulakshmi today......

Today 16th Sept. is associated with great legend…. Even those like me who know nothing of the Carnatic music would still have heard with awe regard and great interest the mellifluous voice of the genius known as MS ~ was very happy to see this doodle this morning in honour of the doyen of the music legend.

Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi, the 'nightingale' of Carnatic music, started her career by singing in temples before becoming one of the best-known artistes in her field during her lifetime, enthralling audiences all over the world, including the Carnegie Hall in London and at the United Nations. Born in Madurai, on September 16, 1916, Subbulakshmi grew up surrounded by music.

Fondly known as amma to all music lovers, her formation, development and reaching pinnacle of glory were all due to her hardwork, sincerity, devotion and her commitment in perfecting her diction, understanding the inner meanings of the compositions and more than everything else the divine blessing perhaps to her addiction to devotion.  "Music is an ocean and I am a student. For a vocalist, voice practice is important. It has been my habit to learn the meaning of songs I have to sing and the correct pronunciation of each word," she once wrote in a magazine, when she was 73.

Read from various sources that it was through the Columbia Gramophone Company records that she got greater attention in Chennai even before she was in her teens. By 1932, she had become a sort of cult figure for a whole generation of youngsters. In 1930s, Thiyagaraja Sadasivam, a freedom fighter and fairly well-known figure in Chennai's political scene as a protégé of the late C Rajagopalachari, loved her and their marriage took place in Thiruneermalai. Subbulakshmi's first movie Sevasadanam was released in 1938 in which she acted as a poor girl married to a rich old man. It was followed by Shakuntalai in which she played the lead, a glamorous role teaming her with G N Balasubramanian, the most attractive intellect of that time.

In 1940s, she sang before Gandhiji and performed concerts to raise funds for the Kasturba Memorial Trust. She immortalised many songs, including Vaishnava Janatho, a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, Meera bhajans, Annamacharya kirtans and the like. Certain ragas like Shankarabharanamand Kambhoji bore her 'unmistakable stamp'. People were invariably moved by her Meerabhajans. Kurai ondrum illai (I have no regrets) often evokes sighs and tears when MS rendered it as the concluding piece in every concert. She never referred to notes when she sang on the stage.

Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi  became  the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor. She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia's Nobel Prize in 1974 with the citation reading "Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the Karnataka tradition of South India.

MS travelled widely and gave concerts in London, New York, Canada, the Far East, and other places as India's cultural ambassador. Some of the most significant include :   Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama in 1963; Carnegie Hall, New York; the UN General Assembly on UN day in 1966; Royal Albert Hall, London in 1982;  Festival of India in Moscow in 1987

In 1969 she famously sang several songs in front of each idol in the Rameshwaram temple. After the death of her husband Kalki Sadasivam in 1997, she stopped all her public performances. Her many famous renditions of bhajans include the chanting of Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu sahasranama, and the Venkateswara Suprabhatam.  Besides the Bharat Ratna, she was also the recipient of many awards including Padma Vibushan; Ramon Magasaysay award and more…..  she was the Asthana vidhwan of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and there is a bronze statue of MS in Tirupathi and a circle named after her.  The famous Kancheepuram Saree shade known as MS Blue was named after her. She was an ardent devotee of Kanchi Mahaswamigal and she rendered his composition Maithreem Bhajatha (O World! Cultivate peace) in her concert at the UN in 1966.  The royalty from her Venkatesa Suprabhatam in Gramaphone record of HMV goes to the Veda Patasala run by the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam. She donated many of the royalties on several best sold records to many charity organizations.

this photo courtesy : the Hindu

In 2004, with her passing away at ripe old age of 88, music lovers all over the World were deeply saddened. 

This year when we celebrated our Independence day at SYMA [on 15th Aug 2013]- the National flag at our premises was hoisted by Dr Parthasarathi who was the family physician of MS and attended to her for decades.  The eye camp held later on the same day was also inaugurated by Dr R. Parthasarathy. More of it later in our Sept. 2013 issue of Bliss....

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Sept. 2o13.


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  2. impressive... MS would ever live in the heart of all music lovers - Priya

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