There were many facets to Lalgudi Jayaraman, the man.
Lalgudi G. Jayaraman is no more, and his violin has taken its final bow, silencing the magnificent strings. Ailing for a while now, the veteran’s musical acumen and spirit never gave up, rising to create new compositions, and teaching.
Lalgudi’s long musical journey was in itself a delectable tale, filled with joyful memories and great music.
The maestro was meticulous in maintaining written records of his concerts, right from the start of his career. GNB was his idol, and Lalgudi relished being part of the my DVD project on GNB, and the GNB Centenary Special book.
Lalgudi had many warm memories of MLV too, and gave me plenty of useful inputs for my book on MLV. He shared a rare friendship with Flute N. Ramani.
Through the last weak years, Lalgudi was ably assisted by his wife, Rajalakshmi Jayaraman, who has a huge fund of memories associated with her husband, and the music world. Once, she proudly stated, “He (Lalgudi) is a wonderful speaker and people would come just to hear him speak.” S. Rajam confirmed the same and even advised me to get Lalgudi to sing and demonstrate what he spoke about, for my GNB video. I remember, Lalgudi spoke for little more than an hour into my camcorder, impromptu, bursting into song to emphasise certain salient aspects of GNB’s singing.
This was the last time he spoke live for a recording, for he suffered a stroke soon after.
I remember how once, I mentioned making badam halwa, and Lalgudi’s eyes lit up. His wife said he had been advised to keep a careful diet. Lalgudi cajoled her, saying just a little halwa would be good for him.
That Lalgudi was a great composer is a facet that’s too well-known. His thillanas are regularly performed. A rare instance was when he attended a jugalbandi between Mandolin Shrinivas and his son, G.J.R. Krishnan. He was moved when he heard them playing Vasantha thillana. Shrinivas was equally emotional for he could actually play one of Lalgudi’s compositions in his presence.
Lalgudi rendered yeoman service in restoring Dikshitar’s home in Tiruvarur, along with the Kanchi Mutt, as he was a great devotee of the Paramacharya.
The depth of his bowing was unmatched, his musical imagination most vivid. T.N. Krishnan asked me about Lalgudi’s well-being and I said he was doing well, and that the stroke had treated him kindly. “After all, he is Saraswati,” said Krishnan, acknowledging the divine blessing enjoyed by Lalgudi.
Lalgudi was a stern teacher, and reputed to not personally promote any student of his, believing they would come up on their own merit.
His music lives on, his voice and his playing captured in numerous recordings, certain to guide generations of music lovers.