Dr. L. Subramaniam is India's violin icon. He has recorded, played and
composed a substantial variety of music including Karnatic (south Indian),
Western classical, jazz, global fusion and world music. Dr. L. Subramaniam has
collaborated with a wide range of artists including Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane
Grappelli, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Herbie Hancock, Larry Coryell and Ravi Coltrane.
Lakshminarayan Subramaniam was born July 23, 1947 in Madras, India. His
career as a childhood prodigy brought him into contact with the greatest
musicians and he soon imposed himself as a master of the violin. At a very young
age, he was honored with the title 'Violin Chakravarthy' (emperor of the
violin). Very few musicians can boast of such diverse repertoire and
collaborations, or even such mind-boggling techniques. Till date, Dr. Subramaniam has produced, performed, collaborated, conducted and released over
Dr. L. Subramaniam is the only musician who has performed/recorded Karnatic
Classical Music, Western Classical Music, both orchestral and non-orchestral,
and also composed for and conducted major orchestras, collaborated with a wide
range of some of the greatest musicians, from different genres of music
including jazz, occidental, jugalbandis with North Indian musicians, world music
and global fusion. He has established himself as a force that is strongly
Indian, but universal in nature and approach.
His insatiable musical curiosity made short shrift of all kinds of technique, of
all types of form (he has composed for several western classical orchestras and
ballets) and of all new experiences (he was a musical advisor to Peter Brook
about the sound concepts for his 'Mahabharata'). He has composed music for a
select few films, including
Salaam Bombay! and
Mississippi Masala and was the featured soloist for Bernardo
Little Buddha and
Cotton Mary of Merchant ' Ivory Productions). This total
receptivity towards the world, this polymorphous talent, this technical mastery
all however find their truest experience in the service of Karnatic music, the
tradition he has inherited from his father and guru, Professor V.
Lakshminarayana. Dr. L. Subramaniam's parents Prof V. Lakshminaryana and V.
Seethalakshmi were the driving force behind their son and the reason he chose a
life in music.
Passionate about music, Subramaniam was also dedicated to Science. He studied
medicine, finishing his M.B.B.S at Madras Medical College and registered as a
general practitioner. Subsequently he did his Master's Degree in Western
Classical Music in California and he finally decided to dedicate his life to
music. From then on, his artistic activity was to spread in many directions.
Attracted by his unusual musical phrasing, several western musicians wanted to
play with him. He willingly lent himself to these exchanges, which represented
for him a no-man's land, which allowed him to explore the field of
improvisation. In this atmosphere of live exchanges, the musical differences and
similarities became obvious to him and from then on they organized themselves
brilliantly. Since 1973, Subramaniam has made historic collaborations and
recordings with people like Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Pierre
Rampal, Steven Seagal, Ruggiero Ricci, Arve Tellefsen, Herbie Hancock, Joe
Sample, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Jean Luc Ponty, Earl Klugh,
Larry Corryel, Corky Seagal , Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, John Surman, Maynard
Ferguson and Ravi Coltrane.
Today, he is the founder/director of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival,
the biggest global music festival in India, in which this spirit of encounter,
which he has always enjoyed, is strongly expressed. The Festival has brought
some of the greatest artists from around the globe together on one stage. It is
held annually, primarily in India, but has also been held in different parts of
Not only is he considered the most outstanding Indian Classical violinist, but
also an exceptional composer who has established himself as the foremost Indian
composer in the realm of orchestral composition. In 1983, he crossed other
frontiers, that of western classical tradition. 'The Double Concerto for violin
and flute' combines western scales and micro intervals. 'Spring ' Rhapsody' is a
homage to Bach and Baroque music. Over the years he has written and created
works for the worlds greatest orchestras: The New York Philharmonic Orchestra
and Zubin Mehta ('Fantasy on Vedic Chants'), the Swiss Romande Orchestra
('Turbulence'); The Kirov Ballet ('Shanti Priya') The Oslo Philharmonic
Orchestra ('The Concerto for Two Violins'); The Berlin Opera (Global Symphony),
the live concert of which was broadcast simultaneously over 28 nations for
millions of people. His latest orchestral composition is entitled 'Astral
Symphony' for full symphony orchestra and soloists from different musical
traditions, once again emphasizing the concept of Global Fusion.
His compositions have also been used in various stage presentations by leading
ballet companies, including the Cleveland San Jose Ballet Company and the Alvin
To increase understanding of the concepts of South Indian Classical Music, he
has released a four-CD set, called
Anthology of South Indian Classical Music and written an
Euphony, which was co-authored with his late wife Vijayashree
He has received several awards and honours, including the coveted Padma Bhushan
and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 'The Most Creative Artist' from the
President of India. He has been awarded the 'Nada Chakravarti' (Emperor of
Sound) from H.H Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swami-ji at Trinidad (West Indies).
In recognition of his contribution to the World of Music, he has been conferred
with Honorary Doctorate (D.Lit) by both Bangalore University and University of
To commemorate 100 years of the Nobel Peace Prize, an album has been released
bringing together the best from music and excerpts from speeches of Nobel
laureates. For this project featuring artists from all around the world, Dr.
Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam were chosen to represent the
Asian continent. They also performed at the re-opening of Bibliotheca Alexandria
in Egypt which was attended by President and Mrs. Mubarak of Egypt, President
and Mrs. Chirac of France, Queen Noor of Jordan, the Queen of Spain and Queen
Sophie of Belgium among other Heads of States, Dignitaries and Nobel Laureates
His album titled
Global Fusion was a critically acclaimed milestone and features
artists from five continents including one of the most popular and successful
singers in the film industry, Kavita Krishnamurti (whom Dr. L Subramaniam
married in November 1999), and his talented and versatile daughter Seetaa
In 2000 Dr. L. Subramaniam was in China for a concert tour, which coincided with
the official visit of the President of India to commemorate fifty years of Indo
'Chinese relations. Indian President K.R. Narayanan and Chinese President Jiang
Zemen attended this historical performance with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra
in Beijing. He gave a special performance for Prince Charles during the latter's
visit to India in 2004 along with Kavita and Seetaa.
Dr. Subramaniam composed and performed the special Olympic Torch Theme Song,
celebrating the arrival of the Olympic Torch to India for the first time. Dr.
Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurti and Seetaa Subramaniam have just released an
album entitled 'Athens', featuring the Olympic Torch Theme Song with lyrics by Gulzar.
In 2004 heas completed a world tour of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival
including concerts in the USA (Lincoln Centre, New York) and the Asia Pacific
Region (Perth, Australia, Esplanade in Singapore, Sri Dewan Penang Hall, Penang,
and Putra Jaya World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).
The album, Conversations and his orchestral composition 'Fantasy on Vedic
Chants' have become milestones and serves as a reference and guide for any
composer exploring the concept of fusion.
'I find nothing more inspiring than the music making of my very great
colleague Subramaniam. Each time I listen to him, I am carried away in
wonderment,' said Lord Yehudi Menuhin.
Subramaniam's wife, Kavita Krishnamurthy Subramaniam, is one of the most
prominent vocalists in Indian films today.