M S Subbalaxmi | Braves by their Broken Hearts!

Her tone will insist instant peace in the hearts of the listeners! She is the person who experienced the actual fragnance of Indian classical music.. She promoted the greatness of Indian music to the western world. India's best known Veena player, a bharat ratna.. She is M.S. Subbalaxmi.

Just listen this mesmerizing masterpiece, "Bhavayami Gopalabalam", sung by M.S.Subbalaxmi..

Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbalaxmi | Biographical Sketch

  • Subbulakshmi (Kunjamma to her family) was born on 16 September 1916 in Madurai, Madras Presidency, India.
  • Her father was a veena player, Shanmukavadiver Ammal and mother was Subramania Iyer. Her grandmother Akkammal was a violinist.
  • M.S. Subbulakshmi began her Carnatic classical music training under her mother Shanmugavadivu
  • Her mother, from the devadasi community, was a music exponent and a regular stage performer, and Subbulakshmi grew up in an environment very conducive to musical learning.
  • She started learning Carnatic music at an early age and trained under the tutelage of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Pandit Narayanrao Vyas.
Smt. M S Subbalaxmi
  • Subbulakshmi first recording was released when she was 10 years old.
  • Subbulakshmi gave her first public performance, at the age of eleven, in the year 1927, in the 100 pillar hall inside the Rockfort Temple, Tiruchirappalli.
  • The performance consisted of singing bhajans (Hindu hymns). The Madras music academy was known for its discriminating selection process, and they broke tradition by inviting a young girl as a key performer. 
  • Her performance was described as spellbinding and earned her many admirers. Soon after her debut performances, Subbulakshmi became one of the leading Carnatic vocalists.
  • In 1936 Subbulakshmi moved to Madras (now Chennai). 
M S Subbalaxmi(left) in film Sevasadan, 1938
  • She also made her film debut in 'Sevasadan' in 1938. Critics have described Sevasadanam as an "unusual film" for choosing the subject of marriages between young girls and old men (which had social sanction). The film successfully broughtout the "sufferings of the girl" (acted by M.S.) and the "mental agony of the aged husband"(acted by F.G.Natesa Iyer).
  • Seva Sadhanam proved a turning point in the history of Tamil cinema. In the climax, the aged husband, now a totally changed man, was shown as casting aside with utter contempt his 'sacred thread', which symbolises his Brahmin superiority. It came as a stunning blow to the then Brahmin orthodoxy.

  • MS Subbulakshmi also played the male role of Narada in Savitri (1941) to raise money for launching Kalki, her husband's nationalist Tamil weekly. Her title role of the Rajasthani saint-poetess Meera in the eponymous 1945 film gave her national prominence. This movie was re-made in Hindi in 1947.
  • By the age of seventeen, Subbulakshmi was giving concerts on her own, including major performances at the Madras Music Academy.
  • She travelled to London, New York, Canada, the Far East, and other places as India's cultural ambassador. 
  • Her concerts at Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama in 1963, Carnegie Hall, New York, the UN General Assembly on UN day in 1966, Royal Albert Hall, London in 1982, Festival of India in Moscow in 1987 were significant landmarks in her career.
  • In 1969 she was accompanied by Indian Railways Advisor S N Venkata Rao to Rameswaram, where she sang several songs in front of each idol in the Rameswaram temple.
  • Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had this to say about M.S. Subbulakshmi- "Who am I, a mere Prime Minister before a Queen, a Queen of Music". While Lata Mangeshkar called her Tapaswini (the Renunciate), Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan termed her Suswaralakshmi (the goddess of the perfect note), and Kishori Amonkar labelled her the ultimate eighth note or Aathuvaan Sur, which is above the seven notes basic to all music. 

  • The great national leader and poet Sarojini Naidu called her "Nightingale of Southern India". Her many famous renditions of bhajans include the chanting of Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu sahasranama (1000 names of Vishnu), Hari Tuma Haro and the Venkateswara Suprabhatam (musical hymns to awaken Lord Balaji early in the morning).
  • After the death of her husband Kalki Sadasivam in 1997, she stopped all her public performances.
  • She was widely honoured, praised and awarded. Some of the popular ones include Padma Bhushan(1954), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award(1956), Sangeetha Kalanidhi(1968), Ramon Magsaysay award (often considered Asia's Nobel Prize in 1974), Padma Vibhushan(1975), Sangeetha Kalasikhamani(1975), Kalidas Samman(1988), Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration(1990)
  • She won prestiguous Bharat Ratna in 1998.
  • She was honoured as a resident artist [Asthana Vidhwan] of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.[17] Tirupati Urban Development Authority (TUDA) has installed a bronze statue of M.S. Subbulakshmi at the Poornakumbham circle in the temple town. It was unveiled by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy on 28 May 2006.

  • A commemorative postage stamp on her was issued on 18-December-2005. United Nations decided to issue stamp to mark birth centenary M.S. Subbulakshmi, She was bestowed with enormous prize moneys with these awards, most of which she donated to charity. She has given more than 200 charity concerts and raised well over Rs. 10,000,000.


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