Doyens of Music

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer

Semmangudi Radhakrishna Srinivasa Iyer was an exponent of Carnatic music who lived a ripe old age of 96.

He was born in Thirukodikaval in Tanjore dt. as the third son of Radhakrishna Iyer and Dharmasamvardhini Ammal. He lived with his maternal uncle Thirukodikaval Krishna Iyer violin maestro, until the age of four and after his death, moved back to his parents' home in Semmangudi.

 At the age of eight he started learning music from his cousin Semmangudi Narayanaswamy Iyer. This was followed by some rigorous tutelage under Thiruvadaimaruthur Sakharama Rao, a famous Gotuvadyam exponent, an event considered by Semmangudi as a turning point in his life. This was followed by another training stint with Narayanaswamy Iyer, during which time he learnt a lot. Then he was placed under the tutelage of Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer In 1926, he performed his first music recital at  Kumbakonam In 1927 gave a concert in the  Madras session of Indian National Congress another event considered by Semmangudy as a turning point in his life, as it catapulted him into the big group of vidwans at that time. He was known for producing soulful music.. He succeeded Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar as Principal of the Swathi Thirunal College of Music at Thiruvananthapuram, a post he held for 23 years, until the age of 55.He focused on concert performances and tutoring youngsters. He gave public concerts even after the age of 90.Semmangudi was widely renowned for his genius as a concert performer.

His concerts will be remembered for many reasons. Most importantly his choice of songs, speed in rendering swarams and his ability to combine choice and speed with bhakti. Semmangudi was well known for his uncharacteristically nasal voice in an era when practically every prominent Carnatic singer had an impeccable voice.

His singing style has been widely followed and has a host of prominent disciples. Semmangudi mama as he is fondly called has a plethora of awards in his kitty.

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