I am devoted to Indian Classical music. Two of my most ambitious pieces of writing on The Hum were dedicated to it – Introductions to Indian Classical Music Part 1 and Part 2. My collecting of this music often borders on obsessive – something not helped by the rarity of recordings in the West. Among the scarcest and most sought after are by the child prodigy mandolin player U Srinivas.
Srinivas began playing the mandolin at the age of five, and made his public debut at the age of 9. The remarkable heights he achieved on the instrument were instantly recognized. Though the mandolin had existed in folk traditions within the country for many generations, Srinivas is credited for its introduction into the Carnatic tradition – something which usually takes centuries. It is extremely uncommon for a single player to accomplish such a thing, and a testament to Srinivas’ profound ability. Despite having died from complications of a liver transplant at 45, because of the young age at which he began performing, he had a reasonably long and acclaimed career. I am particularly drawn to his playing during childhood. There is a raw unrefined emotion that is hard to match. Unfortunately there are only a few recordings from this period. They leave you gasping for more. During my hunt for further documents, I have come across a number of wonderful films made during concerts. Here are a few of my favorites.