A fourth-generation musician in a family of distinguished artistes, Lalgudi Jayaraman’s initial infatuation with music soon flowered into a flaming passion and remained so all through his life. Over the years he emerged as a colossus in the field of Carnatic music, acclaimed by musicians across the globe. His musical styles the Lalgudi Bani, distinctive enough to be named after him. Revolutionized the art of violin playing and served as a vehicle for his creative expressions as a path breaking accompanist, soloist and composer. A saga of passion and kismet, hard work and sacrifice the musical journey of Lalgudi Jayaraman is about the power of music and its undying spell.
This engaging biography begins with the stories of Lalgudi’s ancestors and deftly weaves facts with trivia to create a narrative that is at once historical and anecdotal, informative and interesting intertwining the threads of his life with the strings of the violin, it is also an examination of the violin in the Carnatic music tradition and Lalgudi’s role in ensuring that his beloved instrument got its due on the national and international stage.
Lakshmi Devnath is a well-known researcher and writer on Carnatic music.
She is a trained vainika and vocalist with a degree in music. Her academic
background includes an honours degree in history and an admirable
knowledge of Sanskrit. She has to her credit more than a hundred articles on
related subjects that have been published in leading dailies and journals.
In 2011, Lakshmi, motivated by a zeal to propagate stories from the
Carnatic music tradition to the young, launched Pictures of Melody, the
first-ever graphic-biography series on the lives and times of Carnatic music
Lakshmi's books include A Class Apart (the biography of the educationist
Y.G. Parthasarathy) and Poorva: Magic Miracles and the Mystical Twelve (which
narrates the stories of the Alwars, the twelve Vaishnavite saints of south
India, in a virtual reality format). The unique narrative concept of Poorva
caused it to be a runaway bestseller and was later translated into Tamil as
well. The book is slated for re-publication in both languages later this year.
She is currently working on its sequel, Poorva in the Vedic Age.
The other project Lakshmi is working on is Sargam, an exciting journey
into the world of Carnatic music. It unfolds important milestones in
the evolution of the art form through a fun-filled, racy and interesting
Every year we have an annual music and Dance Festival at RIMPA in Delhi in Delhi in celebration and memory of my dear friend, George Harrison. A couple of year ago, I invited Krishna and his sister Vijaylakshmi to perform for the same. I was so impressed with their playing that my thoughts went down memory lane to the time when I heard their father the great Lalgudi Jayaraman. G.N. Balasubramaniam was a good friend of nine and we used to meet quite often whenever I went to Channai in the late 1950s. He talked about this young man, Lalgudi Jayaraman, a very highly talented musician and said I should listen to him. I had implicit faith in GNB, as he was affectionately called, and when I was in Edinburgh for the festival in 1962 I spoke about Jayaraman to my very dear friends, the great violin legend Yehudi Menuhin and George Harewood who was the director of the festival at that time. I later not only heard him live great masters like Madurai Mani Iyer Semmangudi Srivinvasa Iyer, Alathur Brother and so in.
Lalgudi Jayaraman music is heart wrenching and divine. His tonal quality is superb and being a composer and singer himself, he is able to bring the lyrical beauty to his playing too. I have been enjoying so many of his records and particularly his scintillating Tillanas for so many years now.
I was completely blown away reading An Incurable Romantic by Lakshmi Devnath and without hesitation ca recommend it as an absolute must for all music lovers. What an eye opener it has been and I was so fascinated to read the compositions and their meanings. I was also intrigued to read about his forefather. It is no wondering that Jayaraman’s Music stands unique with all the musical nourishment by his parents and grandparents. What an education.
I was so amused by this little paragraph: “Kanna the lemon atop you great grandfather’s head would stay perfectly still, even when he performed a difficult four kalai pallavi.” Muthulakshmi Patti animatedly described her father-in-law Rama Iyer’s prowess in rendering difficult pallavis without even a twitch of his body.’
Although a classical traditionalist, never compromising on the identity of his classical roots, Lalgudi took Carnatic music to new heights with his incomparable genius.
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