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Lalgudi Jayaraman

Sri Lalgudi Jayarama Iyer (born September 17th, 1930, India) is a legendary violinist performing Carnatic music. In his own lifetime he has gained the title with his spellbinding technique and mastery over the instrument. In the sphere of Carnatic music, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman is a name that is instantly associated with musical excellence in melody, rhythm, style and technique.


Born in the lineage of an illustrious disciple of the great saint musician Thyagaraja, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman inherited the essence of Carnatic music from his versatile father late V R Gopala Iyer who trained him meticulously. At the early age of 12 he started his musical career as an accompanying violinist. Being endowed with rich imagination, quick grasp and an ability to adapt easily to the individual styles of the leading maestros in Carnatic music while accompanying them in their concerts , he reached the forefront in rapid strides. The rich concert experience he thus gained, coupled with sheer hard work and perseverance and the strong urge to give original expression to the musical ideas surging in him, he emerged as a solo violinist of rare brilliance.

He revolutionised the style of violin playing by inventing a whole new technique that is designed to best suit the needs of Indian Classical Music and establishing a unique style that came to be known as 'Lalgudi Bani'. His flawless and fascinating style, graceful and original, yet not divorced from traditional roots gained him numerous fans. This multi dimensional personality have to his credit composed several 'kritis', 'tillanas' and 'varnams' and dance compositions, which are a scintillating blend of raga, bhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. The unique feature about Lalgudi is that his music is very expressive. Lalgudi's instrumental genius comes to the fore in the form of lyrical excellence. He brought the most-sought-after vocal style into violin, and his renditions exhibit knowledge of lyrical content of the compositions.

He has been in great demand for accompanying vocalists, and has accompanied such great vocal virtuosos as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, G. N. Balasubramaniam, Madurai Mani Iyer, Maharajapuram Santhanam, D. K. Jayaraman, M.Balamuralikrishna, T. V. Sankaranarayanan, T. N. Seshagopalan etc. His accompanying wizardry and lightning quick responses to the various challenges posed by the main artistes remain unsurpassed. His accomplishments are numerous but chief of them is the fact that he was the first to bring international attention to the Carnatic style of violin playing. He also introduced a new concept of musical ensemble with violin, venu (flute) and vina in 1966 and gave several outstanding concerts.

He has given concerts extensively in India as well as abroad. The Government of India sent him to Russia as a member of the Indian Cultural Delegation. At the Edinburgh Music Festival in 1965, Yehudi Menuhin, the renowned violinist, presented him with his Italian violin, impressed by Lalgudi's technique. He has also performed in Singapore, Malaysia, Manila and East European countries. His recordings submitted to the International Music Council, Baghdad, Asian Pacific Music Rostrum and Iraq Broadcasting Agency by AIR New Delhi have been adjudged as the best and accorded the first position out of 77 entries received from the various countries during 1979. He was invited to give concerts at Cologne, Belgium and France. The Government of India chose him to represent India at the Festival of India in USA , London and he gave solo and 'Jugalbandi' concerts in London and also in Germany and Italy that received rave reviews. Sri Lalgudi went on a tour in the year 1984 to Oman, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain that was highly successful. He composed the lyrics and music for the operatic ballet 'Jaya Jaya Devi' which premiered in 1994 at Cleveland, U.S. and was staged in many other cities in United States. In October 1999, Lalgudi performed in UK under the auspices of Shruthi Laya Seva Sangham. The concert was a roaring success. After the concert a Dance Drama 'Pancheswaram', composed by Lalgudi was staged.

The genius has earned several titles like 'Nada Vidya Tilaka' by Music Loversí Association of Lalgudi in 1963, 'Padma Shri' by the Government of India in 1972, 'Nada Vidya Rathnakara' by East West Exchange in New York, 'Vadya Sangeetha Kalaratna' by Bharathi Society, New York; 'Sangeetha Choodamani' by Federation of Music Sabhas, Madras in 1971 and in 1972; State Vidwan of Tamil Nadu by the Government of Tamil Nadu and Sangeetha Natak Academy award in 1979 etc. The First Chowdaiah Memorial National-Level award was given to Sri Jayaraman by the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He has also received honorary citizenship of Maryland, U.S. in 1994and the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2001.
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