Doyens of Music – Instrumental

Parur M S Anantharaman

The Parur School stands for quintessential Carnatic music–violin whose founder Parur Sundaram Iyer sowed the seeds of music which has grown into a banyan tree. Well-versed in both the streams of music - Carnatic and Hindustani - he used to play both with great precision.

His illustrious sons M S Anantharaman and M S Gopalakrishnan have been nurtured from their childhood with the essence of classical music. A few hours with M S Anantharaman made me catch a glimpse of his musical odyssey which spans a mindboggling seven decades.

The violin was thrust on me, declares Anantharaman. He entered the musical arena when he was barely seven years old. He would practice for nearly eight hours a day. A doyen amongst musicians, Sundaram Iyer would invite eminent musicians for a chamber music concert at his house and is credited to have started the Thygaraja Vidwat Samajam in Mylapore. His relentless efforts to bring all musicians under one umbrella have been lauded by people and the press.

Anantharaman’s interaction with them gave him a firm grounding in the grammar of music. He made rapid strides and established himself as a front-ranking musician. Anantharaman broadened his horizons by learning Hindustani music also.

He specialised in mathematics at Pachaiyappa’s College and secured a diploma in German from Max Mueller Bhavan.

As a lover of the English language, he quotes from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ even at this age. My father used to make me sing all the kritis before practising them on the violin, states MSA. He has had the honour of performing with four generations in his family –his father, his brother, his sons and his grandson.

The violin virtuoso has performed with titans of Carnatic and Hindustani music. He has accompanied Omkarnath Thakur and Pt. Vinayak Rao Patwardhan, to name a few.

His foray into film music will be etched in his memory forever. Who can forget the song ‘Katrinile Varum Geetham’, immortalised by M S Subbulakshmi. Anantharaman accompanied her on the violin for that piece.

Legendary sitar maestro, Pt Ravi Shankar, had given recital in their house while young.

MSA has toured throughout the world but recalls a memorable concert at Jaffna, Sri Lanka, while accompanying singer-nationalist K B Sundarambal. They were shell-shocked to see a sea of humanity waiting patiently to hear them.

He recalls his interactions with great composer Koteeswara Iyer who used to visit his house.

Anantharaman built an incredible repertoire and wanted to give the rasikas something fresh. His teaching stint at the Tamil Nadu Music College was beneficial to the students. He has regaled audiences on AIR and Doordarshan. His equally talented sons, M A Sundareswaran and M A Krishnaswamy, have imbibed his flawless techniques. Heaped with a slew of awards, he has bridged the gap between tradition and modernity. Truly one might say of him, ‘Age cannot wither him nor custom stale his infinite variety’.

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