The Semmangudi Century

He was the pitamaha, the patriarch of Carnatic music. His singing was powerful, deeply moving. His profound scholarship never hampered his creative genius. His centenary celebrated on 25th July 2008 has been a reverential journey back into the past for the devotees of his music.

He was a star in the midst of outstanding contemporaries like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Madurai Mani Iyer, Musiri Subramania Iyer and G.N. Balasubramanian. He battled a gruff and nasal voice all his life and managed to produce grand music despite having to fight those wayward vocal chords every inch of the way.

Through that grueling vocal odyssey, it often seemed he was pleading with God, even altercating or wrestling with Him as he struggled to overcome his handicap. It could not stop Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer from becoming arguably the top Carnatic musician of the 20th century.