Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

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Rsachi
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#1 Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Rsachi » 27 Sep 2013, 11:10

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Dear Maha-rasikas,
I am one third of the way through this excellent biopic "An Incurable Romantic" on Lalgudi Jayaraman, excellently compiled and written by Lakshmi Devanath (with a MP3 disc of clips from six decades or so). I have been deeply touched by Lalgudi's music for the past five decades and discover new delights every day.

But I have a problem with the title "An Incurable Romantic". For someone brought up in a very strict tradition, a man given to relentless self-examination and development (he wrote reviews of each concert of his), someone who developed an encyclopedic view of Carnatic music by imbibing the best, who devoted huge efforts to develop a shishya parampara, I feel the adjective romantic is inappropriate. You expect a romantic to be highly emotional, unconventional, given to lapses in self control, lovable and loving but full of imperfections, definitely not a perfectionist. And Lalgudi was none of these things I listed as qualities of a romantic.

Who was a romantic, Byron or Coleridge!? Who was a romantic, Strauss or Beethoven? Turner or Monet?

Obviously Lalgudi was full of love for all his friends, disciples, and rasikas. They loved him immensely, around the world. He garnered superlative admiration and following from 1940's to now. So many stalwarts went out to 'bat for him'. Does it make him a hero or a romantic!?

I propose here that the encyclopedic grasp and kaleidoscopic delivery of his art made Lalgudi anything but 'romantic'. I welcome your thoughts!

I can surely endorse that Lakshmi Devanath is incurably romantic about Lalgudi. She has done a good job indeed.
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mahavishnu
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#2 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by mahavishnu » 27 Sep 2013, 11:23

Good question, RSachi.
I have not read the book yet ( I hope to soon), so I can't comment on why Lakshmi Devnath used that particular term...

Smt Lakshmi Devnath is a member of our forum and I hope she will be kind enough to engage in a productive discussion about this with us rasikas here.
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sureshvv
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#3 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by sureshvv » 27 Sep 2013, 11:36

RSachi... May be you should re-read Robert Pirsig next to get the right perspective on the title :-)
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kvchellappa
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#4 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by kvchellappa » 27 Sep 2013, 11:55

OALD lists the following meanings for ROMANTIC (adj):
connected or concerned with love or a love affair (must be the direct or etymological meaning);
appealing to the imagination and affecting the emotional intensity; (Is this not appropriate for music in general and Sri LGJ particularly?)
highly imaginative and emotional, concerned with ideas rather than reality (is not music born of man's imagination and supposed to enhance his emotional bliss? Purists are opposed to music for this reason?)
(of music,..) noted for depth of feeling rather than form or intellectual ideas; preferring wild nature, passion, etc. to order and restraint. (This meaning is totally inappropriate for Sri LGJ)
Romantic (n)
a person who is highly imaginative and emotional and concerned with ideals rather than reality (becomes debatable here for Sri LGJ)
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Rsachi
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#5 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Rsachi » 27 Sep 2013, 12:13

KVC!
good list. Thx
And we have to fit in 'incurable'. Like when someone persists with a behaviour or attitude to life despite many detractors and difficulties.
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rajeshnat
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#6 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by rajeshnat » 27 Sep 2013, 13:26

Rsachi,
My 2 cents is

For all those who are acclimatized with CM , they would love to read the biography as it is of meastro LGJ, there the title name hardly matters. But for the larger spread of partial acclimatized or non acclimatized to CM ,the title has to have some kind of splash that too with the young crowd .The agenda for selling more copies is always paramount for all publishers and authors and hence the title is put that way. Anyway as mahavishnu said ,smt Lakshmi devnath can herself answer.

KV Chellapa,
I was only thinking romantic means more as something immensely connected with Love only. Never knew few other meanings (especially #2nd one) which are directly connected with the sublime music of Shri LGJ without the slide towards love. Thanks for the same.
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rajeshnat
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#7 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by rajeshnat » 27 Sep 2013, 13:28

Kpjayan (with the forum id braindrain)has written a lovely review of the book.
http://kpjayan.blogspot.in/2013/09/an-i ... vnath.html
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sureshvv
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#8 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by sureshvv » 27 Sep 2013, 13:55

Paraphrasing Pirsig, the apparent dichotomy between the "Classical" and the "Romantic" fades away in the presence of "Quality" giving rise to the holy trinity.

[update]Let me expand on this a bit.

There is a theory that the world is split into two types of people, the "Classical" and the "Romantic". While the Classical type adopts the rational approach and views the world using the brain , the Romantic approaches it intuitively relying on the heart. This opposing Weltanschauung has caused a lot of friction between the camps. In his books, Robert Pirsig analyzes this division and arrives at a kind of Grand Unification Theory for the camps. Highly recommended reading.[/update]
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Rsachi
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#9 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Rsachi » 27 Sep 2013, 17:52

Suresh,
I can well relate to your discussion of Pirsig...
Someone who presents carefully crafted, well-rehearsed, technically grounded, structurally classical, theory-supported, self-criticism driven, art (=classical instrumental music and compositions)...is Classical. Even if his domain deals with musical themes and not say mathematical formulas.

To call it Romantic calls for intuitively relating to this art from the heart. Hence I suggest that we call Ms Lakshmi Devnath a Romantic.
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varsha
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#10 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by varsha » 28 Sep 2013, 05:21

Can we be romantic enough to redefine romantic to include the biographers intention ? :)

She has probably used the expression in the sense that a romantic is one who walks in search , when the world sleeps and so sees the dawn before the day .
While the world wakes up to the day and rarely has a clue on what transpired before it.
And so he has to pay a price .
Oscar Wilde's words , and did he pay a price too ? Like Galileo , Copernicus , Columbus , Einstein , Gandhi ...who were all romantics too.
Did Lalgudi pay a price ? Yes indeed .
Price of looking at a world that did not recognise him for what he was . A man who would not bow to an institution or a bunch of power brokers .And stood steadfast in fighting rapidly declining senses of aesthetics.
But always remembered to tip his hat , in deference.
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Rsachi
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#11 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Rsachi » 28 Sep 2013, 05:54

That makes three.
Lalgudi
Lakshmi
Varsha
:D

But jokes apart, Varsha,
the Lalgudi team has put together a good narrative with so many dates, data points and clips. A very worthwhile aesthetic journey down memory lane with the maestro, which I am thoroughly enjoying!

PS: in the Parvathi blog are featured Lalgudi's colourfully written notes to a young friend. So I too have seen his very emotional, giving nature!
Last edited by Rsachi on 28 Sep 2013, 11:02, edited 1 time in total.
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kvchellappa
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#12 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by kvchellappa » 28 Sep 2013, 08:53

It is getting really romantic, with imagination taking cute turns!
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Rsachi
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#13 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Rsachi » 28 Sep 2013, 16:07

SureshVV et al,
Here is ZatAoMM extract from Pirsig:
http://www.olearyweb.com/classes/amlit0 ... ticism.pdf
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SrinathK
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#14 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by SrinathK » 29 Sep 2013, 10:37

I believe the title was to reflect how Lalgudi was one who fell in love with music and the violin -- the way he used to treat his instruments, the way his approach to music brought out so many emotional colours and among other things how determined he was to get the violin to sing despite the tolls of age and strokes. He has actually said that the violin is his 'kaadali' and it appears this is a characteristic of virtually all great instrumentalists.

The other incurable romantic in the whole story is actually his wife -- one has to see for oneself how she loved her husband (to a fault as the book describes it !!) as much as he loved music and his violin. It is quite commendable that the book actually takes care to present the efforts of the woman behind the man and the role of the women in contributing to the success of 6 generations of musicians in the family. Equally important is that this is the first time that detailed effort has gone into tracing the story of Lalgudi's ancestors starting from Lalgudi Raama Iyer.

The other noteworthy thing in the book is that it is no hagiography and there is no kind of idolatory and there are also passages that are critical of the maestro (especially his temper). I have been reading the book for the 3rd or 4th time now and still can't put it down. The icing on the cake is that it comes with a CD full of the best recordings of the maestro including all the most memorable moments in his career and it makes for an incredible listening experience.

I would be very interested though if some day a book elaborately detailing all the aspects of the style of the lalgudi bani including their bowing, left hand technique, expressive gamakas and laya system for instrumentalists would be brought out. There is probably no modern Carnatic violinist today who hasn't incorporated something from his style. One also wonders if Lalgudi had evolved special techniques of memorizing and quickly grasping elaborate and complex musical passages -- geniuses always have their own special ways of thinking and the maestro was one who redefined what the violin was capable of.
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cacm
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#15 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by cacm » 29 Sep 2013, 11:23

In addition to the technical aspects of his violin playing if some one expert here say something about his LAYA GRASP which was phenomenal VKV
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sureshvv
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#16 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by sureshvv » 29 Sep 2013, 12:43

RSachi...

A good part of Carnatic music is Kalpana sangeetham which calls for on the spot improvisation. There is a certain seat-of-the-pants flying called for which puts it squarely in the "romantic" arena.

There is also a certain willful breaking of the "rules" as in the misra shivaranjani tillana that has been discussed elsewhere on this site. This seems to further strengthen the author's choice of title for her book.

PS: Hope this response won't automatically add me also to the list that you are keeping, in which case we could define "romantic" as people holding a different opinion than Rsachi :-)
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SrinathK
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#17 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by SrinathK » 29 Sep 2013, 13:19

Dear cacm, you have quite a mention in the book as one of his very close friends, especially with the 1st tour of LGJ-NR ;). I have some superb music from those concerts especially one mind blowing Simhendramadhyamam.

Speaking of his laya skill, about which you know very well. From what I have read in the book, LGJ's father Gopala Iyer had devised many ways to keep tala on the foot right from the very first lesson. LGJ's laya skill was of an inconceivable standard for violinists -- 32 kalai pallavis, shadkaala pallavis, simhanandana pallavi -- the most amazing thing about this was that LGJ had not even seen the Simhanandanam until the day before the concert and he had learned the Talam from Mudicondan only the previous night and the pallavi itself was totally an impromptu matter !! Also his ability to reply to each and every artist was significantly due to his laya abilities which allowed him to confidently reproduce all that was thrown at him where many others would have spent all their cerebral processing power on wrestling with the calculations. I also feel that is also this that first allowed him to be such a great soloist apart from all the other qualities of his music.
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hnbhagavan
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#18 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by hnbhagavan » 29 Sep 2013, 19:18

Dear Rasikas,

The Simhananda pallavi by Mudicondan which brought out the genius of Lalgudi Sir is heard quite rarely these days.Are there any clippings by present day musicians?
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Rsachi
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#19 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Rsachi » 29 Sep 2013, 21:18

Sri Bhagavan
The accompanying CD has the clip of the simhanandana pallavi! Of course it is short. I think Ms Suguna Varadachari(?) gave a demo on DD recently.
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Rsachi
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#20 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Rsachi » 29 Sep 2013, 21:20

Sri Bhagavan
The accompanying CD has the clip of the simhanandana pallavi! Of course it is only a short clip and not the total item. I think Ms Suguna Purushothaman gave a demo on DD recently.
Here is it on YouTube!
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5cVc2NSRaq ... cVc2NSRaqc
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hnbhagavan
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#21 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by hnbhagavan » 30 Sep 2013, 06:19

Dear Rsachi,

Thanks for your link.I have the book as well as the CD.What I meant was this particular item is not heard in the concerts.The Youtube link is very nice.
I too enjoyed the brief Mudicondan-Lalgudi in the CD for Simhananda pallavi.
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alpajnani
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#22 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by alpajnani » 30 Sep 2013, 19:41

hnbhagavan wrote:Dear Rsachi,

Thanks for your link.I have the book as well as the CD.What I meant was this particular item is not heard in the concerts.The Youtube link is very nice.
I too enjoyed the brief Mudicondan-Lalgudi in the CD for Simhananda pallavi.
Does one need to pick up the CD separately? Or is this a CD in a pouch attached to the book?

My mom bought the paperback edition and reports that she didn't get the CD.....hence the question.
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SrinathK
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#23 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by SrinathK » 30 Sep 2013, 19:53

It comes with the book.
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hnbhagavan
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#24 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by hnbhagavan » 01 Oct 2013, 00:18

Dear Alpajnani,

The CD is part of the book.In case it is missing,you may contact and get it.
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Ramasubramanian M.K
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#25 Re: Lalgudi: An Incurable Romantic!?

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 01 Oct 2013, 08:41

YES. The simhananadana Pallavi is one of the "bits" included in the CD with the book. In my opinion GJR has done an outstanding job in the selection--each piece be it from a solo performance or as an accompanist for Alathur,GNB or MMI,brings out one facet of the maestro--Mudikondan's "grunt" at the simhanandana Pallavi demo bears ample testimony to the virtuosity of the artist. Mind you this was in the Mid fifties at the Academy(LGJ was under 30 years of age).The "experts" assembled for the Demo were stunned by LGJ's nonchalant display--Oh for those glorious days!!
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