Musicians’ story in pictures

Alathur Brothers: United in Music by Lakshmi Devnath  

We keep talking about making classical music accessible to the uninitiated. More importantly, we need to find ways to pass on information about its rich past, its development over the years and the lives of its master practitioners.

Lakshmi Devnath has found an interesting method to deconstruct the nuances of classical music and lead people into the details of the works of legends. She has come up with pictorial books on Maharaja Swati Thirunal, M. S. Subbulakshmi, T. Brinda, Madurai Mani Iyer and G. N. Balasubramanian.

The latest in this series is one on the inimitable Alathur Brothers ( Srinivasa Iyer and Sivasubramania Iyer) titled ‘United in Music, a centenary special, which was released recently at Sadguru Sangeetha Sabha in Tiruchi. The venue could not have been more appropriate since the sabha was inaugurated by Alathur Venkatesa Iyer in 1945. In 1959, Alathur Srinivasa Iyer took over as secretary of the sabha. Today, Alathur Subbier's eldest son, S. Thiagarajan is its managing trustee.

The choice of chief guest, vocalist Rama Varma, also turned out to be most suited to the occasion since Alathur Brothers never failed to include at least one composition of Swati Thirunal in their concerts. The Brothers were also asthana vidwans of the erstwhile Travancore court.

With concept, research and text by Lakshmi, it is the story of these two brilliant sons of Carnatic music, one from Alathur and the other, from Angarai. Though not related to each other, music created a beautiful bond between them.

They were trained in music by Alathur Venkatesa Iyer, the father of Sivasubramania Iyer, who belonged to the sishya parampara of Tyagaraja. The Alathur Brothers rose to establish themselves as one of the most admired singing duos in the history of Carnatic music. They often chose unconventional lines for niravals and kalpanaswaras. They were also known for their alapanas and pallavis. Tiruppugazh that are restricted to the tukkada section of kutcheris, sometimes became the mainstay of their concerts.

Alathur Subbier passed away at the young age of 49. Later in 1965 when Srinivasa Iyer was awarded the Sangitha Kalanidhi, in his acceptance speech he said, “Sivasubramania Iyer and I did gurukulavasam like Krishna and Kuchela. Our relationship has been beyond that of mere siblings. We lived and sang together, bonded by music.”

As interesting as Amar Chitra Katha books, this picture-story along with tracing Alathur Brothers’ musical journey, gives readers insights that will help them understand the brothers' rise to eminence.

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Printable version | Nov 20, 2021 1:24:42 AM |

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