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Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer Concert

8:33 AM Posted by Vijayasri

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (Tamil: செம்மங்குடி ஸ்ரீனிவாச ஐயர்) (July 25, 1908 - October 31, 2003) affectionately addressed as "Semmangudi Maama" (Semmangudi Uncle)by everyone is considered to be one of the greatest Carnatic vocalists of the twentieth century.
He was the youngest recipient of the Sangeetha Kalanidhi awarded by the Music Academy in 1947[1] and has received many awards including Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India, Sangeet Natak Academy award (1953), Isai Perarignar from Government of Tamil Nadu and Kalidas Samman from Government of Madhya Pradesh. He was also considered the "Pitamaha" or the grand sire of modern Carnatic Music.

He was born in Tirukkodikaval, Thanjavur District as the third son of Radhakrishna Iyer and Dharmasamvardhini Ammal. He lived with his maternal uncle Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer, a legendary violin maestro, until the age of four and after his death, moved to his parents' home in Semmangudi, Thanjavur District. At the age of eight he started learning music from his cousin Semmangudi Narayanaswamy Iyer. This was followed by some rigorous training under Thiruvadaimaruthur Sakharama Rao, a famous Gottuvadhyam exponent, an event considered by Semmangudi as a turning point in his life. This was followed by another training stint with Narayanaswamy Iyer, during which time he learnt a lot of varnams and keerthanams. Then he had a musical apprenticeship with Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer. In 1926, he performed his first music recital at Kumbakonam. In 1927 gave a concert in the Madras session of Indian National Congress, another event considered by Semmangudy as a turning point in his life, as it catapulted him into the big league of vidwans at that time. He was known for producing soulful music, highly creative and yet very orthodox, despite a recalcitrant voice.

Shishya Parampara: The popular musicians TN Krishnan, VR Krishnan, TM Thyagarajan, PS Narayanaswamy, V Subrahmanyam, MS Subbulakshmi, Kadayanallur Venkatraman, K.R.Kedaranathan, Seetha Rajan, Palai Ramachandran were all trained under Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

After attending one of his concerts in 1934, Maharani Sethu Parvati Bai of Travancore was so impressed by his talent and scholarship that she invited him to come to Thiruvananthapuram to edit and popularise the compositions of Swati Tirunal. He succeeded Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar as Principal of the Swathi Thirunal College of Music at Thiruvananthapuram, a post he held for 23 years (1941 to 1963), until the age of 55. At this age, he handed over his responsibilities to another Carnatic legend, G. N. Balasubramaniam and at the behest of the Government of India, became the Chief Producer of Carnatic music at All India Radio, Madras from 1957 to 1960. In later life, he concentrated on concert performances and tutoring youngsters. His gave public concerts even after the age of 90.
He had authored numerous books on compositions which he set to music. He was also known to be extremely witty. His speeches at various functions were full of anecdotes and apt comments. What was remarkable was his ability to recall names, places, incidents, personalities even until a year ago.

A video of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer Concert that took place in NewYork in 1994.

The concert starts with the muthuswamy dikshitar krithi, Vathapi Ganapathim in Hamasadwani raaga continuing with Meru samana in Mayamalavagowlai raaga, Ananda Nadam aaduvar thillai in poorvi kalyani raaga,Divakarathanujam (Navagraha Krithi for Lord Sani)in Yadukula Kamboji raaga and so on.

A definite treat for our ears ! Watch and enjoy !


  1. Krishna S said...

    Excellent post on The Great Sri semmangudi Swami. Very informative blog post. thanks a lot...

  2. Viji said...

    hi vijayasri, nice semmangudi sir's collections.
    can you have Singer Yadavan Yoganathan carnatic songs. If you can pls can you upload.
    advance thanks. I have his enadhendrum unadhendrum - hamsAnandi - Adi

  3. Vijayasri said...

    @Krishna : Thanks for your comment. I checked your website Extremely good.

  4. Vijayasri said...

    Viji, I just have two songs, Bho Sambho and enadendrum unadhendrum in Yadavan Yoganathan's voice.
    check this link for Bho Sambho.

  5. vasudha said...

    Hi vijayasri,

    All the collections are very nice. Thanks a lot. I request you to post some LAKSHANA GEETAS in this site.


  6. K.V.Narayanmurti. said...

    Wish you would post his singing the Appayya Deekshita sloka-ragamaalika "VAME BHAGE DAYAADRAH", it is the most enchanting music.

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