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Mandolin Maestro Shrinivas
A Profile



"A power house of talent has descended on the orchard of Carnatic Music to make it resplendent in all its varied hues and nuances, weaving around it a magnetic field that not only sustains the audience interest but makes them crave for a little more of it. This sudden and brilliant outburst of musical wizardry is from the tender hands of Master Shrinivas who with a caress of the strings of the tiny instrument Mandolin sets the pace for a thoroughly enjoyable fare of Carnatic music that normally has come to be regarded as the preserve of a few savant grade senior musicians".

Shrinivas was born in Palakol in West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh on February 28, 1969. As a very young boy Shrinivas was a normal child in school except that he seemed to have an ear for music. Then one day, when he was only six years old, his parents came home to find him playing on his father's mandolin. Inspired by the boy's interest in music, Satyanarayana taught his son what little music he knew, and Shrinivas began playing light music on the mandolin.

Subbaraju, a classically trained musician and a disciple of the famous musical stalwart Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, who had taught music to Shrinivas' father sensed the young boy's musical aptitude and decided to teach him classical music. He had no experience on the mandolin, so he would sing Carnatic music which Shrinivas would then play on the mandolin. In this way the young musician developed his own style.

Yes, indeed a star was born....


Mandolin Shrinivas has often been compared to some of the world greatest prodigies.

"Some of you have heard or read about exceptionally gifted children, our own Mandolin Shrinivas, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Beethoven, Sir Isaac Newton, Picasso, Madam Curie, the list is endless" (courtesy THE HINDU, Sunday, May 3, 1992)

To Shrinivas the mandolin was his first love. He expended all his latent talent to conquer this little known alien instrument. Such was the proficiency he attained that his father soon realized that what he had on his hands was a "child prodigy" and no less ! Sparing no effort and time, he swept his son on his sail to recognition. The creative energy in Shrinivas swirled like a tidal wave around the Carnatic music world. The way critics gushed, it was hard to tell if they were talking about a child or a god! "He was hardly nine. Innocence was writ large on his face. But the music that he produced on the little brittle mandolin was unbelievably Carnatic and classical to the core, throwing into the shade even the top instrumentalists. One had to rub one's eyes and pinch oneself to make sure that a nine-year-old lad was performing musical miracles on the dais. He even operated on offbeat summations revealing virtuosity of a high order. That he could conceive in his mind the raga in all its grandeur and inherent niceties and transform them into musical extravaganzas had to be seen and heard to be believed ! It was clear that there was a divine force expressing itself through him in his tiny instrument".

Shrinivas got his first big break in Gudivada in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, during the Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana festival. He was barely nine then.

The rest is musical history.


Following public recognition and acceptance in 1983, the next eight years of this wonder boy were spent in touring the world extensively, enchanting his audience with the youthful vigour and expertise that are his hallmarks. His concerts were highly acclaimed and he was showered with many prestigious awards.

Over the years his performing perambulations and resulting public adulation afforded him no time for formal schooling. Shrinivas has been principally educated through private coaching. He remains essentially the shy small-town boy with an urbane smile and a magnificent obsession - his mandolin. In every concert Shrinivas earned applauses minute after minute with his brilliant flashes. There was depth and weight in the boy's delineation of 'ragaas', with the Carnatic traditional flavour all the way in every note and phrase.

So much so that it was popularly felt...
"If music is God's gift to man, U.Shrinivas is God's gift to music"


Shrinivas got his first big break in Gudivada in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, at the age of nine during the Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana festival.

Thereafter his career surged ahead. The Indian Fine Arts Society in Madras afforded him the first major metropolitan concert during the musical festival in Dec 1981. Shrinivas soon felled all before him like a hurricane, as sabha after sabha vied with each other to present this prodigy with the mandolin - an unheard of phenomenon in the halls of Carnatic music. A worldwide concert tour followed.

At the West Berlin Jazz Festival in 1983, he was privileged to give a repeat performance of his mandolin, which was telecast live by German TV. At the invitation of the Sydney Tamil Sangham, he went to Australia in 1984, and then to South East and South West Asia, the USA and Canada. At the Festival of India in Paris, he was allotted one hour to play on the instrument. But when the hour ended, the audience forced the organizers to extend his recital by another hour. Such is the irresistible pull of Shrinivas' art. Leading organizations vied with each other to shower him with honors and titles. In 1983, the Music Academy, Madras, honored him with the "Special TTK Award"

Dizzy Heights

The boy exhibited dizzy heights in his standard of play, which far surpasses what he must have learnt from his guru. Listeners were swept away in the flood of neatly executed touches and rhythmic patterns coming from the young prodigy's hand. Everyone forgot what instrument it was and gave themselves up for listening to the mellifluous melody that flowed out of the little stick of a musical instrument!

Back to U.Srinivas




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