A CENTENARY TRIBUTE – SATHUR A.G. SUBRAMANIAM (1916-1977)

Sathur A.G. Subramaniam was a well respected musician and teacher of his time. He was a musician’s musician. He was born in 1916 at Angarai in Tiruchirapalli, to Thailammal and Ganesa Sastrigal. In his early teens he moved to Sathur where his initial music training began. He then came under the tutelage of T. Sabesa Iyer, Tanjavur Ponniah Pillai and Tiger Varadachariar at the Annamalai University, where he obtained the Sangeeta Bhooshanam degree in 1936. S.V. Parthasarathy, T.S. Krishnaswamy, T.K. Rangachari, Mayavaram Rajam and K.S. Narayanaswamy were his collegemates. He gave his first public concert at the Tyagaraja Aradhana in Tiruvaiyaru in 1938, and from then on there was no looking back.

Sathur A.G. SubramaniamHe was a traditionalist to the core. This was reflected in his dignified demeanour—white half-sleeve shirt and veshti, bordered angavastram, sacred ash with a kumkum dot on his wide forehead, and hair tied back in a tuft. He was conservative by nature and diligently performed his daily rituals. He believed in upholding traditional values in life and music and stood firm by the pathantara taught to him by his gurus.

Sathur had a sonorous and stentorian voice. His singing, marked by speed, was rich and open, but uninflected and without frills and fancies. Besides vocal music he had trained in playing the mridangam, which helped him execute ragam-tanam-pallavi with aplomb. He had his own following of rasikas who attended his concerts to listen to his pallavis in four ragas. His knowledge of Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and Hindi enabled him to understand the import of the compositions which he rendered with perfect diction, even as he brought out their depth of emotion and expression. He was a close friend of musician V.V. Sadagopan and GNB. On his visits to Tiruvananthapuram, he would stay in the house of V.V. Sunderarajan and learn Swati Tirunal kritis from his wife Jayalakshmi Sunderarajan. Sathur taught a number of these kritis to his disciples… read more