When I was young, I used to hear the music renderings of Shri Madurai Mani Iyer along with my father, who is ardent fan of him in my village. I was so impressed upon the unique style of his music despite my ignorance in music. I am now relishing on seeing the articles, rare photographs, repository of music, etc. in the website. Thank you each and every one for the efforts in bringing the website very successful. This site will be a great treasure and guide for the buds to be blossomed in the world of music in the years to come. This Project could be possible only because of divine impetus of the genius in music, Shri Madurai Mani Iyer.
It was in the year 1961 or so. The occasion was MMI kutcheri at the Ramanavami festival at Seshadripuram , Bangalore. MMI was accompanied by Lalgudi and Palani Subramania Pillai. After about 90 mts well in to the concert , MMI was midway in the alapana for Mohanam when there was a sudden outburst of summer thunderstorm rain with strong gusty winds resulting in abrupt failure of electricity. There was pitch darkness in the concert pandal and the huge crowd waited patiently with pin drop silence . Rainwater started seeping under the stage where the artists were performing. Silently the organizers and volunteers shifted the whole stage in the darkness to a farther away location free from the rain water seepage. Fortunately the whole carpet area where the listeners were seated was free from the water leakage. Miraculously, the rain and storm subsided completely after 20 mts and power also was restored immediately to the relief of one and all and the audience could scarcely believe how the entire stage was shifted to another remote area in the pandal in the darkness. MMI resumed the finishing touches of the alapana of Mohanam and later on sang a sublime ‘Nanupalimpa’ in his inimitable style. MMI was in fine mettle and when the memorable concert was about to end late in the night the president of the Ramaseva Samithi in his address said ” What we heard today is not normal Sangeetham but Devamrutha Sangeetham” !
I learnt Carnatic music under Srivanchiyam Ramachandra Iyer in the late 80s and he once narrated me a story that he witnessed while with his guru,the legendary Mudikondan Venkatrama Iyer. This was sometime in the 40s. MMI was slated for a concert in a temple town. Sri Venkatrama Iyer had completed his concert in the evening and was waiting to hear MMI whose slot was at the usual 8pm. As MMI sat down on the stage and was getting ready to start he noticed Mudikondan in the front row and immediately bowed his head and said to him “Periava (i.e. Mudikondan) is sitting in the audience, pl forgive if I make any mistake in my concert”. Pat came Mudikondan’s reply – “nee ovvaru swarathilayum samadhi adayaravan – eppadi pezhagu vara mudiyum – nee bhesha padu Mani” meaning ” you attain bliss in every swara – how can you ever make a mistake – you rock on”. So true were these words about Mani Iyer’s inimitable style and his shruthishuddam – which remains unparalleled to date.
Madurai Mani Iyer’s 105th Birthday is to be Celebrated Grandly on 23rd October at P.S. High School, Mylapore, Chennai. All Are Welcome!