Madurai Somasundaram


A great musician with a very emotive way of singing and reverence for his Guru Chitoor Subramanya Pillai. There is debate on whether he got the due respect that he deserved as a great musician, but going by the number of his fans and followers, I would say that he is one of the greats of the 20th century even if the establishment did not do justice to his accomplishments.

In listening to him you get the impression that he is lost in his own world with total abandon, but a careful look at the make up of the concert, you can see that he is closely in connection with the audience taking them thru everything one is looking for in a concert – music, improvisation/manodharmam, devotion, humor and total involvement. His constant bantering and encouragement of the accompanying artists is delightful and after listening to his concert, listening to anyone makes you feel that you have walked into a serious class room!!

He is recognized for being the one to bring about the ‘Full Bench concert’ – filling up the stage with performing artists rather than chelas of sort; by that i mean he had at least 3 percussion artists in his concerts making the tani avartanam part a total blast.

If one thought that Kalyanaraman almost always throws a vivadi ragam sending you into a frenzy of trying to figure out what it is, Somu not only includes a whole lot of compositions never heard of but also in not so familiar and rare ragams.

Radio was the only source for Somu while I was growing up and my exposure to him was rather limited. Then there were a few film songs – again on the radio. It was in the early 80’s when a friend of mine gave me a recording of a concert which was literally eye popping; unfortunately the recording was not complete with the kambhOji piece abruptly cut off. Here are a few concerts that i have in my possession starting with the first one that i got early 80’s

with Lalgudi Jayaraman, Umayalpuram Sivaraman and ???

  • varNam – kalyANi
  • mahA gaNapati – gOpikAtilakam
  • seetApatE – kamAs
  • bhajana chEsitirA – dhanyAsi
  • vandE sandam sri hanumantam – nATakurunji
  • krupa juchutaku – chAyAtarangiNi
  • koluvamaragadA – tODi
  • O rAma neenAmam – poorvikalyANi
  • rAma nAmamu – aTANA
  • RTP – kAmbOji (incomplete)

with M S Gopalakrishnan and Tiruchi Sankaran

  • varNam – AbhOgi
  • pAhi pAhi gajAnana – nATa
  • nannu brOvu – sunAdavinOdini
  • rAmA neepai – kEdAram
  • upachAramu – bhairavi
  • kadalE vADu – nArAyaNagowLa
  • O rAma neenAmam – poorvikalyANi
  • EtArO – mOhanam
  • brOva bArama – bahudAri
  • banTuriti kOlu – hamsanAdam
  • rAmA rAmA – sanakarAbaraNam
  • sankarAbaraNanE gati – rAgamAlika
  • manohari tAyE – rAgamAlika
  • nEnendu vedakudurA – karAnataka behAg
  • mariyAda gAdayyA – bhairavam
  • various

with Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vellore Ramabhadran – Calcutta 1969

  • varNam – tODi – Adi
  • mahA gaNapati – gOpikAtilakam
  • dEvAdi dEva – sindhunAmakriyA
  • sivE pAhimAm – kalyANi
  • gurulEka eTuvanTi – gowrimanOhari
  • jAnaki ramaNa – suddhaseemantini
  • sri rAjarAjeswari – hEmavati
  • krupa juchutaku – chAyAtarangiNi
  • banTuriti kOlu – hamsanAdam
  • chandrasEkara – tODi
  • O rAma neenAmam – poorvikalyANi
  • rAma nAmamu – aTANA
  • ??? – neelAmbari
  • RTP – kAmbOji
  • muruganai

with ??? – Vishakapatnam

  • praNavaswaroopa –
  • raghunAyaka – hamsadwani
  • neelakanTa – vasantabhairavi
  • ninnu nEra – pantuvarALi
  • vandE – nATakurunji
  • brOva bArama – bahudAri
  • koluvamaragadA – tODi
  • O rAma neenAmam – poorvikalyANi
  • rAma nAmamu – aTANA
  • RTP – keeravANi
  • various

with M S Gopalakrishnan, Vellore Ramabhadran, K M Vaidyanathan & Pudukotai Mahadevan – Shanmukananda hall, Mumbai

  • varNam – dEvamanOhari
  • vallabha mahAgaNapatE – gOmedakapriya or gOmethakapriya
  • dEvAdi dEva – sindhunAmakriyA
  • abhayamu – Ahiri
  • manavinala – naliNakAnti
  • sri rAjarAjeswari – kAmbhOji
  • banTureeti kolu – hamsanAdam
  • evarani – dEvAmrutavarshiNi
  • rAgasudhArasa – AndOlika
  • RTP – shanmukapriyA
  • ninaikAda nEram illai
  • nAmpADum pATTellAm
  • enna kavi pAdinAlum
  • madurai arasALum – rAgamAlika
  • various

with M Chandrsekaran

  • mahAganEsam – hamsavinOdini
  • O rAma nee nAmam – poorvikalyANi
  • various

with M Chandrasekaran

  • mahA ganapatE – naTa nArAyaNi
  • sanakara – reetigowLa
  • eTulabrOtuvOvayyA – chakravAgam
  • sambO siva sankaraguru – sanakarAbaraNam
  • varAlendu kummani – gurjari
  • paritApamu – manOhari
  • pAlincu – kAmbhOji
  • enduku daya rAdurA – tODi
  • various

from another concert

  • sivE pAhimAm – kalyANi
  • chinnanAdEna – kalAnidhi
  • ninnu nEra – pantuvarALi (incomplete)

10 thoughts on “Madurai Somasundaram

  1. Very mentioning of Madurai Somu makes me emotional. Though I have no music knowledge, I was somehow attracted to his singing, and everytime I listen to him, tears flow. Enna kavi paadinalum…is ultimate. To me , Somu is right on top.

  2. My first live concert of Somu in Dec 1972 @ Tamil Isai Sangam and then onwards I had the opportunity to attend several concerts till May 1975. He is #1 on my list and always will be.

  3. There are some songs you associate with some singers/instrumentalists inseparably. ‘Enna kavi padinalum’ and Somu are synonymous by that yardstick.I can never listen to that song just once whenever I listen to it. Sometime it has been up to ten times at a stretch.

  4. I have many collection of this great artist.
    Pl email your postal address so that I can courier all the available recordings.

    • Good to know you have a collection and thanks for the offer.
      I live in the US, so sending could be tricky if you are outside US. Also, do you have them on cassettes or CD’s.

    • Dear TR RAmanathan
      I would love to have his recording. I, through my trust, would like to celebrate centernary of Somu. My email id is Please send me a reference in my mail. I will send more details from my mail


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