Virtuosity that belies age

Virtuosity that belies age

Mahadeva Sarma

Now S R Mahadeva Sarma is over 35 and is much sought after by great singers, many of whom are twice his age, to accompany them in concerts. Sarma’s face lights up when he talks about three greats in the violin world. He believes it was they who evolved three distinct forms in violin rendition, which initially parroted the harmonium style. “T N Krishnan made his violin sound like a vocalist. Then came Lalgudi Jayaraman who made it systematic and finally, M S Gopalakrishnan lent it a ‘Hindustani’ appeal, says Sarma, adding that he has tried a  combination of all these three styles.

Music is, of course, in his family, which is ensconced in one of the ‘agraharams’ that dot the surroundings of the Padmanabha Swami temple in Thiruvananthapuram. Sarma’s father, Prof Subramonia Sarma, is one of Kerala’s senior-most violinists and AIR’s A-top artiste.
And interestingly,  Mahadeva Sarma entered the musical world at the age of seven by learning mridangam from his grandfather K Mahadeva Iyer. “My sister S R Rajasree and I later started training under my father. We were taught to sing first before reproducing that on the violin and we practised for five to six hours every day,” Sarma says.
At the age of 20, Sarma became an A-grade violin artiste of AIR, which helped him later  secure a job there.

Before long he was seen teaming up with maestros like K V Narayana Swamy, Balamuralikrishna, K J Yesudas, T N Seshagopalan, and T V Sankaranarayanan in concerts.

The violinist has toiled a lot during his leisure hours to revive many an obscure Carnatic composition. “Kovur , Sreerangam, Narada and Thiruvotriyur pancharatnams by Saint Tyagaraja  and Ganesh kritis - 13 by Deekshidhar and seven by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar - are some of the old compositions I’ve worked on for AIR,” he says.
The artiste, who has made concert tours to America, the Gulf, Singapore, Malayasia and European countries,  cherishes the accolades he has won in the form of the Maharajapuram Santhanam Memorial award, Madhurai Gana Sudha award, Saraswati award in New York and Sangeetha Vidwan award in Detroit.

Sarma is sad, however, that the number of ‘rasikas’ who turn up to listen live
Carnatic concerts is dwindling. “I have seen a better representation of music lovers in the US. Once I remember how one such group there asked me to play soothing ragas so that they could sit through the event in meditative mood.”

Assembly elections 2019 | Get the latest news, views and analysis on elections in Haryana and Maharashtra on

For election-related news in Maharashtra, click here

For election-related news in Haryana, click here

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)