Sunday, March 15, 2015


Semmangudi Radhakrishna Sreenivasa Iyer was a great Carnatic Vocalist and 'Guru' who taught Carnatic Indian Classical Music lessons to large number of 
students out of which many of them became exponents  like M.S.Subbulakshmi and K.J.Jesudas.
Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer was born on 25th July 1908 at Thirukodikaval, Tanjore in Tamil Nadu.He started learning Carnatic music from the very young age of eight from his cousin Semmangudi Narayana Swami Iyer.
Later he was given much more lessons by experts like Thiruvadaimaruthur Sakharama Rao,Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer etc.He gave his first public performance at Kumbhakonam in 1927.
Semmangudi's voice was not melodious at initial stages and he worked hard to improve his voice and emerged victorious in that effort.His voice quality changed a lot and he could earn name and fame very soon as a good Carnatic musician because of his hard work, dedication and unique but excellent singing style which he developed himself.His singing style was very well appreciated and other musicians also started to perform in that way.His concerts were enjoyed by all and soon he was acknowledged  as a musician of par excellence.H received ardent fans from all over the world.
He was invited by Sethu Parvathi Bai of Travancore to take up the charge as Principal of 'Swathi Thirunal College of Music' at Thiruvananthapuram.This offer was accepted by him and he served in this position from 1934 to 1957.
From 1957 to 1960 he served as the Chief Producer of Carnatic Music at All India Radio,Madras.
Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer's many disciples also became well famous and exponents of Classical music. Some of them are 'M.S.Subbulakshmi,K.J.Jesudas,Pala C.K.Ramachandran,Mavelikara Prabhakara Varma,Sethulakshmi Venkitesan,Radha Namboothiri,Prof.Kumara Kerala Varma,P.S.Narayana Swamy,Kodayanallur Venkataraman' etc.

His disciples affectionately called him as .Semmangudi Mama(uncle).
He gave music concerts even at the age of 90.In his concerts accompaniments like Mridangam, Violin etc were usually  handled by  exponents like 'Umayalpuram Sivaraman,Lalgudi Jayaraman,T.N.Krishnan,Palghat Mani Iyer,Trichy Sankaran' etc which also added glory for his concerts.His choice of 'Kritis' and the style of rendition and improvisation including speed of rendering swarams etc earned wide acclaim.
He always received praise for his transcendental quality of rendition which he carried out with seemingly effortless grace.When he rendered the descriptions of the deities in the 'Kritis' with earnest devotion, adequate feel and expressions, the spiritual vibrations evoked the ambiance in such a way that the audience could experience the deity as per the details of the verses in their inner soul.
Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer was the recipient of several awards.He received Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan from Government of India.
He was the youngest recipient of 'Sangeeta Kalanidhi award' from the Music Academy.
He received Sangeet Natak Academy award in 1953.He was recipient of the title 'Isai Pararingnar' from Govt of Tamil Nadu, and received 'Kalidas Samman' from Government of Madhya Pradesh.
He was given honorary Doctorate from Kerala University in 1979.
Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer passed away on 31st October 2003 at Chennai in Tamil Nadu. 

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