Violin maestro Padma Bhushan M.S. Gopalakrishnan whose career spanned over 75 years died at a city hospital following complaints of breathlessness

M.S. Gopalakrishnan — legendary violinist known for his mastery of both the Carnatic and Hindustani systems of classical music — passed away early on Thursday after a brief illness. He was 82.

Hailing from the celebrated Parur lineage, MSG, as he is fondly referred to in music circles, started performing as a little boy, barely eight, along with his elder brother M.S. Anantharaman, also a veteran violinist. He trained under his father Parur Sundaram Iyer.

MSG was among the most sought-after accompanists of his generation, and had a remarkable career, accompanying stalwarts such as Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Alathur Brothers, G.N. Balasubramaniam, Madurai Mani Iyer, M.S. Subbulakshmi, M.L. Vasanthakumari, M. Balamuralikrishna and Maharajapuram Santhanam. As an accompanist, he embellished a concert by complementing the main artist’s ideas with rare sensitivity. He would swiftly interpret the main artist’s musical expressions, and lend support in an absolutely unobtrusive manner — a quality that continues to inspire many young musicians today.

In his career spanning 75 years, he not only broke new ground as an accompanist, but also rose to become one of the best solo violinists in the country, along with Lalgudi G. Jayaraman and T.N. Krishnan. The three are considered the ‘violin trinity’ of south Indian classical music.

Despite enviable success and accolades that came in the form of national honours such as the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, and innumerable titles, including the ‘Sangita Kalanidhi’ title awarded by The Music Academy, Chennai, MSG remained a very simple, unassuming person. He is survived by his wife Meenakshi, daughters, M. Narmadha (violinist and prime disciple), Latha and violinist-son Suresh.