M.S. Subbulakshmi

BORN: September 16, 1916
DIED: December 11, 2004
FAMOUS AS : Carnatic Musician
BORN IN : Madurai
SPOUSE/PARTNER: Kalki Sadasivam
1998 – Bharat Ratna
1954 – Padma Bhushan
1975 – Padma Vibhushan

  • Bharat Ratna Madurai Shanmukha Vadivu Subbulakshmi, popularly called M.S. was born in the temple town of Madurai on September 16th , 1916, in a family of music
  • Her mother, Shanmukhavadivu was a veena player and her grandmother Akkammal was a violinist. Her father, Subramanya Iyer, though a lawyer by profession, was also a music lover.  Her elder sister Vadivambal went on  to become a veena player and her brother became a mridangam player.
  • Her first public performance was in a school with just an audience of 50 people and when she finished, there were smiles and applauses.  She was a child prodigy as she started giving concerts at a tender age, first accompanying her mother and then as a solo vocalist.
  • Her first recording was at the age of ten, when of singing Meerabai’s songs. “Shyama Sundara Madana Mohana” was one of the songs that Pandit Vyas taught her.  It was to become a great hit in Seva Sadan – a film based on Munshi Premchand’s novel.
  • In 1940 she got married to Sadasivam, a well-known person in the Madras Congress circle, and a protégé of Rajaji. She started acting in films too.  Her movies were quite successful and her final movie “Meera” released both in Hindi and Tamil was a mega hit.
  • After that she quit movies to concentrate solely on music. The money from movies went into the magazine Kalki.
  • Gandhiji loved her rendition of north Indian bhajans and requested that she  sing some for his 78th birthday, October 2, 1947.
  • Subbulaksmi learned and recorded the song the night of September 30th, finishing at 2 a.m.  The disc, sent off by plane, was played on what  was to be Gandhiji’s last birthday.
  • She had by now given concerts all over the world like the ones at Edinburgh Festival and at the United Nations, Carnegie Hall as the inaugural concert at the Festival of India in London in 1982. S. is called affectionately as the Nightingale of Carnatic Music.
  • A hard-working nightingale till her death. Flair for learning, rehearsing new pieces with notebooks, she exhibited her devotion to music.  She maintained these very tight schedules till her last breath!
  • She received a large number of awards. India’s top civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, was conferred on her include the Padma Bhusan, Padma Vibhusan, kalidas Sanman (1988-89) and the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1974).
  • She remained a humble bird throughout her life. She passed away on 10th December 2004.

M S Subbulakshmi

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