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Veena Maestro M.J. Sreenivasa Iyengar’s Birth Centenary Celebrations inaugurated

June 14, 2023

Dr. R.S. Jayalaksmi, veteran artiste and Professor in Veena (retd.), University of Madras, inaugurated the birth centenary celebrations of the legendary Veena Maestro M.J. Sreenivasa Iyengar (well-known in the music circles as Vid. MJS), on May 20, by lighting a lamp, followed by a concert, at Sri Nadabrahma Sangeetha Sabha on JLB Road in city.

The year-long centenary celebrations are being organised by the renowned Guru’s students, admirers and his family members, with veena concerts numbering over twenty scheduled to be held at many places across South Karnataka, and a national-level competition for the potential young vainikas.

Vid. MJS has been among the foremost artistes in the famed ‘Mysore School of Veena’ and has been hailed as a teacher par-excellence. He has the credit of moulding a number of talented youngsters into performing artistes, who have further carried on the tradition with love and earnestness. Born in a family of artistes from Dodda Magge in Arakalagud taluk, MJS had his initial lessons in vocal music and veena from his father Janardhana Iyengar. He then went on to become one of the “Trinity” Shishyas of Veena Venkatagiriyappa, a direct disciple of the legendary Veene Seshanna. The other two of this trinity were Vid. Doreswamy Iyengar and Vid. R.N. Doreswamy.

Vid. MJS started his musical career at the young age of 20 years (1944) and continued to serve the cause of the art till about 2008, after which he lost his hearing ability. He is often credited with the achievement of bringing about a renaissance in the Mysore School of Veena, by introducing the “gaayaki (vocalised)” style of playing, which is characterised by very intricate and involved gamakas of great musical content. Interestingly, his gamakas influenced a whole generation of young veena players of the State during the 60s and 70s. The list of his illustrious students includes Vidu. Subhadra Nagaraj, who rose to become an accompanist of Vid. Emani Sankara Shastry in many of his concerts, top grade artistes of AIR A.S. Padma, M.K. Saraswati, Mysore Rajalaksmi, S.V. Sahana and  many others.

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Vid. MJS himself was an A-Top grade artiste of AIR and had been honoured with many awards, which, of course, came his way only towards the end of the career. He was the first person to receive the Ananya Life Time Achievement Award and the first vainika to receive the State Government’s annual Kanaka-Purandara Award.

Vid. MJS’ admirers have instituted ‘MJS Memorial Concerts’ in the city Sabhas and have strived to help the cause of the tradition of veena playing, which is said to be waning of late.

The centenary celebrations are planned to include performances by almost all the renowned veena artistes across South India and publication of a couple of books. The celebrations are scheduled to conclude at Sri Nadabrahma Sangeetha Sabha, in May 2024.

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Veena Maestro M.J. Sreenivasa Iyengar’s Birth Centenary Celebrations inaugurated”

  1. Gautam says:

    The only Carnatic music instrumentalist in the period when those ” Trnity” lived, who mattered and who was revered was volin Maestro Chowdaiah. Others, pales into insignificance against him. What a formidable contribution by him to Carnatic Music, through his accompaniments to almost all front tramnked vocal musicians at that time, his encouragement of other violinists like Lalgudi by giving them to chance to accompany those great vocalists in his Bidaram Krishnappa Mandira, encouraging such budding veena player like Chittibabu by inviting him to give his concert in the above Bidaram Krishnappa Mandira,and ofocurse, his Ayyanar Music Collge!
    A true Colossus

  2. Venk Parameswaran says:

    MJ Srininivasa Iyengar was living opposite to our house in Krishnamurthypuram in Mysore in 1949 and 50s. He taught my sister Veena when she was young. We knew him very well. Fond memories. I am now in my eighties.

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