A genius who redefined the art of mridangam playing

By Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi

Centenary Notes: “Mani Iyer empowered his playing with pertinent pauses between powerful strokes”

He was a musician of the century. An epoch maker who defined an era, undoubtedly. The art of mridangam playing reached its zenith with Palghat Mani Iyer’s comet-like entry into Carnatic music. It is not merely romantic but also most appropriate to say that the instrument chose this nimble-fingered boy to find its much-awaited, rightful place in the Carnatic firmament.

Mani Iyerval, as he is referred to by all with utmost reverence and awe, started his ever-evolving journey at the young age of 12 by accompanying the notable Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar in 1924. When many doyens like Dakshinamurthy Pillai and Azhaganambia Pillai were already reigning supreme, his musical journey took off on a glorious flight within his first few concert appearances. He soon defined a unique path for himself and laid what would be a solid foundation for many others to follow, leaving in his wake, suggestively understated and hidden treasures for others to find for themselves.

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