Music

A century of M.S Subbulakshmi: Celebrating the legacy of music and memories

M.S. Subbulakshmi Photo: S. Thanthoni   | Photo Credit: S_Thanthoni

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As we move into MSS’s 100th birth anniversary, young musicians elaborate on how her legacy continues to inspire in and beyond music

M. S. Subbulakshmi, in the 100 years since her birth, has had an irreplaceable influence over classical musicians spanning across age, gender and borders. It was destined that the universal and the eternal quality of her musical oeuvre would immortalise her in the world of Indian classical music. Despite the charm that chartered her to the cinema world in the early 1930s and the conferment of prestigious awards like the Padma Bhushan when she was just 38, the aura of purity and devotion to tradition that she exuded went far beyond music.

Indeed it is her personality as much as her musical prowess that serves as an epitome, a textbook reference for that rare mix of technique, diction and devotion, for contemporary musicians. No wonder a number of promising young classical musicians happily put to words, the legacy of MSS, her music and more , that pushes them to perform better each time they take the stage.

The sound of her tambura

The beauty about a piece of art or music is that it invokes different feelings at different stages in your life. I have enjoyed M.S. Amma’s music as a child, as a student, a rasika, a performer and strive to imbibe a lot of her qualities. One of the most haunting things for me will be the sound of her resonant tambura, spreading like a canopy over her music — her voice so beautifully merging with it. I was once asked to sing ‘ Vaishnava Janato’ in her style that was so very different for a bhajan. Fashioned like a western composition arrangement, I found this particular piece to be interestingly different to learn and sing.

Ranjani Sivakumar

Forever indebted to her

M.S. Subbulakshmi’s music is inspirational to me for her keen alignment of shruti. Her adherence to proper diction and lyrical phrasing has set the benchmark for almost every composition she has performed. The Carnatic music community shall remain indebted to her, for she was one of the few artistes who spread the musical form across the country and the world. Her triumphs through adverse circumstances also serve as a great inspiration.

Mallela Tejaswi

A representation of culture

Wherever MSS had made her appearance, there was an ‘Indianness’ that she always exuded, be it the way she was dressed, or behaved, handling all the fame with so much poise. There’s a lesson waiting to be learnt in her dedication in overcoming initial struggles and growing to insurmountable heights.

The instance of Mahatma Gandhi himself writing a letter to her, saying how much he was humbled by her music is an aspect that really touched me. The sanctity in her conduct is something that I would like to imbibe in future. My favourite amongst all her renditions must be ‘ Kurai Ondrum Illai.

Prachotan Devulapalli

The humane side

Deservingly among the female musical trinity of Carnatic music along with D.K Pattammal and M.L Vasanthakumari, it’d be passé to talk about what she means in terms of music. As a human specifically, she, despite not having children treated her stepdaughter Radha Viswanathan with utmost affection, as her own. Balancing family life and a career in music with perfection, she refused to sing post her husband’s death and donated liberally towards charitable causes during her prime. I celebrate MSS’ humane side as much too.

Prathima Sasidhar

Living up to her name

In many of the concerts that I’ve been a part of, I’d received requests to sing one of MSS’ renditions, such as a ‘ Bhavayami Gopalabalam’ or a ‘ Rangapuravihara.’ I did make an effort but as I listened to them later, I was only filled with a worry of whether I’d spoiled it. As I grew up, many of her CDs were played in my car. Since then, as among most households, never did a morning pass without her music. My parents had indeed made it obligatory for me to listen to her work. My uncle who’d once missed her concert, wanted to listen to ‘ Kurai Ondrum Illai’ personally; she readily accepted his request, as he visited her at her residence. It’s a pity that I couldn’t meet her personally.

Sowmya Sridhar

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2018 8:25:25 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/a-century-of-ms-subbulakshmi-celebrating-the-legacy-of-music-and-memories/article7655472.ece