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Maestro who put Parur on the world music map

A Correspondent
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M. S.Gopalakrishnan (left) with his father Parur Sundaram-Iyer
M. S.Gopalakrishnan (left) with his father Parur Sundaram-Iyer

The world over, he was known as Parur M.S. Gopalakrishnan. Yet, the legendary violinist did not know much about Parur.

Parur too did not have more than a nodding acquaintance with the great musician about whom the town takes great pride.

To the music world, and the Carnatic music fraternity in particular, the name ‘Parur’ is tagged with the great violin bani (style). Padma Vibbushan M.S. Gopalakrishnan, popularly known as ‘MSG’, the proponent of the famous ‘Parur bani ’, who passed away on December 3, had declared four years ago that he belongs to Parur although he had never lived there.

Parur, a small town near Aluva and the headquarters of a taluk with the same name, was the home town of MSG’s father Parur Sundaram Iyer, who himself was an outstanding violinist. Incidentally, it is Parur Sundaram Iyer who introduced the violin to Hindustani music in 1909, while learning under the legendary Hindustani musician Pandit D.V. Paluskar, then Principal of Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya, Mumbai.

Sundaram Iyer served as member of faculty there and returned to Chennai in 1922. He created a new style of violin recital by combining the features of Carnatic and Hindustani styles. This unique style came to known as ‘Parur bani ’ and M.S. Gopalakrishnan became the chief proponent of the style. Apart from Dr. Narmada and Suresh, daughter and son of MSG, M.S. Anantharaman, brother of MSG and his two sons M.A. Sundareshan and M.A. Krishnaswamy, are the other torch bearers of the Parur bani now. Members of the next generation of these violinists are also following the tradition of the Parur bani .

The highly skilled and talented M.S. Gopalakrishnan soon carved a niche for himself with his hard work and dedication. He learned both Carnatic and Hindustani styles and soon became a top ranking violinist of the country. His name too was tagged with Parur, just like his father’s.

At a civic reception accorded to him at Parur four years ago, MSG declared, “I am not M.S. Gopalakrishnan; I am Parur M.S. Gopalakrishnan”.


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