Event synopsis (Listening session on 26th Feb at Hamsadhwani)

This event report is admittedly a month overdue, but better late than never.  so here we go.

The event roared to a start with ‘karunai seivai’ in Hamsadhwani raga. ‘O jegadhamba’ in anandabhairavi followed. The first recording had palani Subramania pillai on the mridangam while the latter had palaghat Mani iyer accompanying Mani iyer. The chosen recordings for the day starred only these two mridangam vidwans and Lalgudi Jayaraman as the violinist.
V.Vishnu sporadically intervened in between the excerpts to share a piece of information on Mani iyer and/or anecdotes. One such anecdote was T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai praising Mani iyer’s Bhairavi by quiping ” I play Bhairavi for an hour or so, but you sing the same in fifteen minutes and that stays in the mind forever”. Vishnu also shared a presentation that he prepared with the rasikas, which contained Mani iyer’s contributions to the carnatic world.
Back to the recordings played, next was the navagraha kriti  ‘Suryamurthe’ in raga sowrashtram since it was Sunday. A brilliant koluvai unnade in Bhairavi and  seetavara in devagandhari took the rasikas on a nostalgic ride.
The highlight was yet to come. A Ragam Thanam Pallavi in Lathangi was the highlight, sweeping the rasikas to a state of ectasy for about 30 minutes. Maye, note and Kansan karunai concluded the event. The event also had a brief speech by Hamsadhwani secretary sri. Sundar in which he remarked that all his family members were Mani iyer fans and that he plans to conduct more of these listening sessions moving forward featuring all the stalwarts of the bygone era.

How T.N. Bala became Mani Iyer’s Disciple

There was this post on YouTube by Sri. Yesh Prabhu who apparently had been learning under Sri. T.N. Bala for many years. In this post, he mentions how T.N. Bala became Mani Iyer’s disciple. I will simply  quote his post here.

“I am so happy to see that Sri Madurai Mani Iyer is respected and  so revered even now, after all these years of his passing away. (He passed away on June 8, 1968). Sri Mani Iyer was my guru’s guru. My guru, the late Sri T N Bala (composer of the famous kriti Vilaiyada idu nerama? in Shanmukhapriya raga), was a very senior disciple of Sri MMI. My guru told me how he was chosen by Sri MMI to be his shishya: Sri MMI was sitting in his yard one Sunday morning, listening to Madras AIR. Two young boys were singing Shree Muthuswami Dikshitar’s kriti Surya murthe in Sowrashtra raga. Impressed, he called the radio station to find out who the boys were, and was astonished that the boys were the sons of his neighbor across the street. He then approached their father to express his wish to teach the boys. Their father was only too happy, of course, and consented. Occasionally, after my lesson, Sri Bala sang for me, imitating Sri MMI’s voice, a Navagraha kriti or a Navaavarana kiti. It was as if Sri MMI sat in front of me and sang; and it was an amazing experience! I have learnt Carnatic vocal from Sri T N Bala for more than 29 years. YeshPrabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania “

Event report ” Great south Indian Carnatic Vocalists of the 50’s”

This is a synopsis of the event that took place at P.S. High school on 22nd January 2017.

The event kick started at 4.25 p.m with V.Vishnu’s (anchor) prayer. Then S.venugopal in his welcome address spoke about the event being a tribute to ariyakudi ramanuja iyengar as it was his remembrance day.
So not surprisingly the first excerpt that was played was ariyakudi’s thodi. It was followed by Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer’s kamas ( kriti Brochevarevarura). A rare recording of Musiri Subramania iyer singing without accompanists was next on the playlist. Chembai’s booming voice was heard in the kambhoji kriti sri subramanyaya namaste next. A brilliant semmangudi’s dwijavanthi kriti Chetasri was played subsequently. The highlight of the kriti was the incredible swaras. Two recordings of G.N.B was played next. One was the amritavarshini kriti Sudhamayee and next was a hindolam raga alapana sung without accompanists at his home. The great madurai Mani iyer’s mohanam rained next ( Kapali). Alathur brothers then held sway with their purvikalyani kriti Deva Deva. M.S. Subbhulakshmi was next with her Annamacharya’s kriti. The event concluded with D.K. Pattamal’s begada.
All in all over a hundred rasikas attended and  it was like having an assorted platter of the best dishes in carnatic music.

Mahatma Mani Mozhi Vazhi Nadappom

After Gandhiji’s death, Mani Iyer asked his good friend ‘Chitti’ to compose a song on the Mahatma. Chitti obliged and composed the following song, which was often sung by Mani Iyer in the raga Shanmugapriya. Madurai Mani Iyer was an ardent follower of the Mahatma and was called “Gandhi” by his close associates.




Mani Iyer Concert review, Courtesy Pasupathy sir’s blog

Source: Pasupathy sir’s blog, source link: http://s-pasupathy.blogspot.in/2016/10/96_25.html

Presenting here Mani Iyer’s concert review by a popular critic “Neelam” (Neelamegam). You can see the published date as 15-4-1945 and the newspaper as “Swadesamithran”. Mani Iyer was severely ill during 1944, at the young age of 32 and could not perform in concerts for nearly a year. This review reflects it.

Concert review in 1945
Concert review in 1945
continuation of the concert review, in 1945
continuation of the concert review, in 1945

Newspaper clippings on Mani Iyer, Courtesy Pasupathy sir’s blog

Source: Pasupathy sir’s blog, source link : http://s-pasupathy.blogspot.in/2016/10/96_25.html

Mani Iyer was awarded the “Ganakaladhara” title in 1943. Here is a report from the newspaper “Swadesamitharan” covering it. Published on 26-12-1943.


Here is an advertisement for Mani Iyer’s new LP records released during 1948. Published in the 1948 edition of “Vellimani”.




A brief report on Madurai Mani Iyer’s 105th Birthday celebration

Madurai Mani Iyer’s 105th Birthday celebration was held at P.S. High School, Mylapore on 23/10/2016 and here is a brief report on the event.

The Programme started at around 3.45 pm with singer Sri. Suryaprakash kicking things off with a beautiful prayer. Sri. Kuppuswamy then introduced the guests of honor and welcomed them onto the dais. Cleveland sri. V.V. Sundaram was asked to honor the chief Guest for the event, Sangeetha Kalinidhi Dr.T.K. Murthy  and speak a few words on him. Sri. Sundaram spoke that words like “Genius” and “living legend” are being too casually thrown around these days but Dr.T.K. Murthy really is a living legend, and fondly recalled his 40 year association with the veteran Mridangam artiste. One rasika was quick to point out that no one can match Dr.T.K.Murthy’s Mridangam skills while playing for Pancharatna Kritis. Mridangam Vidwan Sri. K.S. Kalidas was the next speaker, and he said that though people usually only speak about the “sowkhyam” aspect of Mani Iyer’s music, Mani Iyer has also done a lot on the “laya” side of the music. He also stated that though accompanists were initially wary of accompanying Mani Iyer since he sang in a simple sarvalaghu style, devoid of any rhythmic complexities, They later understood the true greatness of his music and clamored to accompany him.

Dr.T.K. Murthy spoke next and said he considered it a great privilege to speak about Mani Iyer, and his music was the embodiment of su-swaram (pure sounds). He also touched upon how great Mani Iyer was as a person, that he would never speak ill of any artiste, took care of his accompanists in the best way possible, and would never let others pay for anything while traveling with him for a concert. The whole speech can be watched here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC_bDT9y9iQ

Anchors for the day Sri. Lalitha Ram and V.Vishnu took over and played some select clips of Mani Iyer while explaining the greatness of the music contained within each clip. Sri. Lalitha Ram started off by playing the famous 1967 recording of Ma Janaki and followed it up with the Abhogi rendition Manasunilpa. he said that this particular rendition was the reason he became a Mani Iyer fan. Meru Samana, Madhar Pirai in Arabhi, Venkatachalapthe in Karnataka Kapi, Nithya Roopa in Darbar , Thodi RTP, English note formed the rest of the clippings played. Lalitha Ram explained that these songs were selected to show rare/unusual renderings of Mani Iyer. The event concluded with Mani Iyer’s Mangalam.

The event was a grand success with around 100 Rasikas and Madurai Mani Iyer fans attending the event.


Dr.T.K. Murthy’s recollections of a Mani Iyer concert

The concert venue was Palani temple. Sri. Chowdiah was the violinist whereas Dr.T.K. Murthy was the with the Mridangam. Mani Iyer started to sing Intha Paramugam in Raga Purvikalyani. At one point in the song when Mani Iyer started to sing in the higher octave, Sri.Chowdiah stopped accompanying and simply put down the violin. When Mani Iyer asked the veteran violinist why he was not playing, Chowdiah’s reply was “Naan Vaasichu Kedukka Vendaame nu thaan” ( Translation: I do not want to spoil it by playing my violin).  According to Dr. T.K. Murthy, The Shadjamam sang by Mani Iyer that day continues to reverberate in his mind to this day.

Also According to Dr.T.K. Murthy, Mani Iyer was the only artiste in his time to sing the Raga Prathapavarali (Song: Vinanasokoni ).