The MS I Knew

“M.S. Subbulakshmi was a simple woman with divinity in her voice” Pandit Ravi Shankar

In the foreword for the book MS & Radha by Gowri Ramnarayan,
Pandit Ravi Shankar wrote about meeting MS for the first time :
“met her for the first time after my first solo recital at the Madras Music Academy in end December 1949. It was  a most thrilling experience to see her sitting in the front row along with all the senior, great musicians. I heard her, during that same period and many more times in several parts of the world. I became an ardent fan of hers like millions of others.”
Read more


Read the article originally published in the Hindu  : Moment of pride for all Indians 

“The day was October 23. MS held the distinguished audience in thrall.”

Link to UN Website  with photos –“UN Day Concert in 1966”

“Madame M.S. Subbulakshmi, one of India’s most eminent musicians, gave a recital of Indian songs today in the General Assembly Hall, as part of a 1966 United Nations Day (24 October) celebrations.”

MSS Tribute website – Link to the brochure  prepared in conjunction with M.S.Subbulakshmi’s 1966 concert tour of  Europe and North America which included the concert for the United Nations General Assembly 

“All her life, Subbulakshmi was to be hypnotised by the sound of tambura strings. There was clinical absorption in her act of tuning the two tamburas, Lakshmi and Sarasvati, each with ivory vignettes of the goddesses on the stem. With multi-stringed Miraj tamburas, this became sheer obsession. (She rewarded daughter and vocal accompanist Radha with her warmest smile whenever she achieved perfect tuning in the twin tamburas). Time stood still as she played the strings and sang slow phrases, pausing on different notes to exult, “Can you hear the gandhara now? Madhyama? Nishada?” Then, reluctantly, she would place the tambura on the mat, touching the stem with her fingers and pressing them lightly on her eyes in a gesture of worship.

Even her childhood games revealed Kunja’s absorption in the art form. One of them started with tuning the tambura carefully until the plucked strings cast a spell with their resonance. Eyes closed, she was lost in another world. Then she stopped, sang without the tambura, and plucked the strings again to check if she had stayed true to sruti. Throughout the day, in between household jobs, she kept returning to the tambura to see if she could recall that pitch steadily and accurately.”   
Link to the full excerpt from MS and Radha by Gowri Ramnarayan : 

“THOUGH M.S. Subbulakshmi assimilated her vast repertoire from many sources, she always acknowledged the late Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer as her guru. He infused depth and grandeur to Subbulakshmi’s music, strengthened her alapana, niraval, and swara, and taught her majestic compositions.”

Link to the entire article is below : 

A Guru on His Sishya – Article by Gowri Ramnarayan in the Hindu 

An excerpt from MS & Radha – Saga of Steadfast Devotion by  Gowri Ramnarayan

“He (Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer) noted several special qualities about her voice. It was not just pleasing and pitch perfect but had a  reenkaram (reverberation), sounding the same up close and at a distance;  it was not distorted or weakened when you heard it from different directions.  It had gatram (weight), and remarkable continuity, ” When you strike a temple bell, the echo continues after the sound ends, until the next striking.  Her voice has that quality.  when she stops singing, the naadam (sound) continues”