Friday, January 4, 2013

Goodbye To A Great Violinist

The violin is a western instrument that eventually gained acceptance (and subsequently, popularity) in classical Indian music.  It is one of my favourite instruments and, amongst those who played it in India, MS Gopalakrishnan is one of my favourite musicians.  Much has been said about his new styles of using his fingers and the bow, his mastery over single string octaves and his ability to play Hindustani as well as Carnatic music (classical music of the northern and southern regions of India respectively) and effortlessly switch over to playing snippets of western classical music for an audience.  I am perhaps not able to  appreciate the technical nuances of his style but it is a style I like very much.  To me, he makes the violin sound sweet and melodious and plays with extraordinary swiftness, precision and rhythm.  He is always incredible to hear - whether performing solo, along with his daughter (and primary disciple) Narmada or when he is accompanying other artists.  After hearing him perform Yehudi Menhuin is said to have exclaimed,"I have not heard such violin in all my travels!  How superbly this young Indian is playing our instrument."

MS Gopalakrishnan was born in 1931 in Mylapore (Chennai).  His father, Parur Sundaram Iyer, a famous violinist, was a strict teacher who instilled a sense of discipline and desire for perfection in his young son.  MS Gopalakrishnan would practice for ten to sixteen hours each day and gave his first performance with his father at the age of eight.  His brother, MS Anantharaman is also a renowned violinist.

MS Gopalakrishnan remained quite active in music circles in a quiet and unassuming way.  He performed almost till the end (immaculately dressed in spotless white).  He passed away yesterday (January 3rd, 2013).  He leaves behind an original and beautiful interpretation of music through his violin.  There are many recordings of his music, I give a link to one of the short pieces available on youtube.

1 comment:

raghukrishnaswamy said...

MSG is GOD of violin. Nice write-up. I had the privilege to listen to his concerts in madras and trivandrum. the best part of MSG music is the more you hear a recording of a song, the more interesting it becomes as new new things started to appear in the form of gamakas, bowing technique, pauses, gathi. every song once you hear MSG play, you tend to stick to it and have a feeling that this the most beautiful possible way that song can be rendered.


#Header1_headerimg { margin: 0px auto }