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Renowned Carnatic musician Mandolin Srinivas dies

U Srinivas, 45, popularly known as 'Mandolin Srinivas', was a renowned mandolin player of Carnatic school of Indian classical music. He was being treated for a liver-related illness.

art and culture Updated: Sep 20, 2014 00:42 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times
mandolin exponent,Uppalapu Srinivas,Mandolin Srinivas

India’s music fraternity woke up to the shocking news of the passing away of a child prodigy who grew into an inspirational Carnatic music icon – Uppalapu ‘Mandolin’ Srinivas -- on Friday morning. The mandolin expert was admitted to a private hospital in Chennai, where he breathed his last at 9.30 am after a failed liver transplant, hospital sources said. Srinivas was admitted a few days back with liver problems.

His untimely death at a relatively young age of 45 plunged the music fraternity into sadness, with musicians across the country expressing grief over the great loss to the music world.

Within no time of the sad news breaking out, percussion maestro Zakir Hussain, who played with Srinivas, tweeted, “today mother India cries, today a part of Indian music died and we are orphaned. RIP my dear brother Mandolin Srinivas.”

Srinivas had also played with flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu were among the first to pay their condolences . “Deeply saddened by sudden passing of U Srinivas, renowned Carnatic musician & legendary Mandolin player. My condolences to family members,” Naidu tweeted.

Singer Shreya Ghoshal described him as one of the greatest musicians of the world. “And too young to go away,” she said echoing the sentiments of many people.

As a young boy from Palakol, a tiny village in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, Srinivas took the very rigid and tough Carnatic music world in Chennai by storm. He picked up his father’s mandolin as a five-year-old and introduced it to the world of Carnatic music in its Mecca -- Madras as it was known then – and took it to great heights. He earned praise from legends like Semangudi Jayaraman and others.

Said an army official V Ganapathy, “When we were in 10th or 11th standard in Madras throwing paper bombs and chalks at each other, he (Mandolin Srinivas) was already a big star doing the rounds of The Music Academy (and he was nearly 5 years younger !!). Even here (in death, he beat us to it).”

A child prodigy, Srinivas grew into a master musician who took a Western musical instrument and married it successfully to the rigid world of Carnatic music that is steeped in discipline and tradition. His first public performance was way back in 1978 in Vijayawada, as a six-year-old.

He was still below 10 years when he performed at the Madras Music season in 1981 for the Indian Fine Arts Society.

As a child artist he started touring the world and was among the few Indian musicians to have performed at JazzFest in Berlin, way back in 1983. In 1988 he was awarded the Padma Shri.

He not only popularised a Western instrument among Carnatic musicians but also experimented with fusion of Carnatic music with Western classical, folk and pop music. He performed with Western artists such as Michael Brook, John McLaughlin, Nigel Kennedy, Trey Gunn, Michael Nyman and others.

First Published: Sep 19, 2014 12:43 IST