Dr. Lakshminarayana Subramaniam (born 23 July 1947) is an acclaimed Indian violinist, composer and conductor, trained in the classical Carnatic music tradition and Western classical music, and renowned for his virtuoso playing techniques and compositions in orchestral fusion.
Subramaniam was born to V. Lakshminarayana Iyer and Seethalakshmi, both accomplished musicians.
He lived in Jaffna during his younger years, taking up music studies before the age of five. He began training in violin under the tutelage of his father, Professor V. Lakshminarayana. "Mani", as he is fondly known by fellow musicians and his family, gave his first public performance at the age of six.
His uncles include Ramnad Raghavan and Ramnad Krishnan. His brothers are also acclaimed musicians, and include the violinist-composers L. Shankar (alias. Shenkar), and the late L. Vaidyanathan. He has released recordings with both.
Subramaniam developed a passion for music as well as science from a young age, studying Medicine and acquiring his M.B.B.S. at Madras Medical College. He registered as a General Practitioner, before deciding to pursue music full-time. He has a Master's degree in Western classical music, which he acquired at the California Institute of the Arts.
Since 1973, Subramaniam has amassed over 200 recordings to his credit, releasing several solo albums, recording collaborations with musicians Yehudi Menuhin, Stéphane Grappelli, Ruggiero Ricci and Jean-Pierre Rampal, further to making albums and performing with Ruggiero Ricci, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke John Handy, George Harrison and several others.
He has accompanied highly regarded vocalists in Carnatic music on stage including Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, K. V. Narayaswamy, Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M. Balamuralikrishna and M. D. Ramanathan. He has also performed many concerts with the venerable Palghat Mani Iyer on the Mridangam, in addition to collaborating with musicians of North Indian Hindustani music and artists of other music systems.
Subramaniam has written works for orchestras, ballets and Hollywood film scores, and written books on music – such as Euphony – in addition to composing symphonies and Carnatic pieces.
In 1983, he composed a Double Concerto for violin and flute which combined western scales with micro intervals. Another release, Spring – Rhapsody, was a homage to Bach and Baroque music. Creations with orchestras that have followed include Fantasy on Vedic Chants with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta, Turbulence with The Swiss Romande Orchestra, "The Concert of Two Violins" with the Oslo Philharmonic, and Global Symphony with the Berlin State Opera (broadcast live to 28 nations) among others. He has also performed a concert tour of China, with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra in Beijing.
His compositions have been used in stage presentations of leading dance companies such as the San Jose Ballet company and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Subramaniam composed the piece "Shanti Priya" for the Mariinsky Ballet.
The release of his albums, including Global Fusion in 1999 have brought Subramaniam widespread critical acclaim, and popularity for his advanced playing. He founded and directs the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival, a festival based in India. In 2004, he completed a world tour with the festival, including concerts in the US (Lincoln Center, New York), the Asian Pacific region including in Perth, Australia, at the Esplanade, Singapore, the Sri Dewan Penang Hall in Penang and the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Performing with Subramaniam at the festival in January 2005 were violin maestro Arve Tellefsen, the Oslo Camerata, jazz legends Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Earl Klugh and Ravi Coltrane.
In September 2007, Subramaniam premiered and played "The Freedom Symphony" with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Warrenton Chorale and Carnatic percussionists, which led to a strongly favourable ovation and an encore piece "Flight of the Humble Bee". Subramaniam is on the advisory board of composer A. R. Rahman's KM Music Conservatory in Kodambakkam, Chennai.
In 2011, he was invited to perform at the United Nations. On 24 October 2012, he performed as a Special Guest Artist with Stevie Wonder at the latter's message of peace concert at the UN. Yehudi Menuhin said of Subramaniam:
When asked about his musical accomplishments, Subramaniam has always said,
He composed the film scores for the films Salaam Bombay (1988) and Mississippi Masala (1991) directed by Mira Nair, in addition to being the featured violin soloist in Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993) and Cotton Mary (1999) of Merchant-Ivory productions.PhD in Music (Thesis on Raga Harmony for Orchestral compositions), Jain University (2017)
D. Litt. Honoris Causa of ITM University, Gwalior (M.P.) (2016)
Lifetime Achievement Award, Limca Book of Records (2012)
GiMA (Best Carnatic Instrumental Album – Innovations), Global Indian Music Academy (2012)
Uttam Vag Geykar Jialal Vasant Award, Ajivasan (2011)
Big Star IMA Award (Best Classical Instrumental Album – Violin Maestros), Indian Music Academy (2011)
GiMA (Best Carnatic Instrumental Album – Violin Maestros), Global Indian Music Academy (2010)
GiMA (Best Fusion Album – Live at Neues Gewandhaus, Leipzig), Global Indian Music Academy (2010)
Tantri Nada Mani, Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Kanchipuram (2009)
Asthana Vidwan, ISKCON, Bangalore (2009)
Viswa Kala Bharathi Bharat Kalachar, Chennai (2004)
Sangeetha Kalaratna, Bangalore Gayana Samaja (2004)
Sangeetha Kalaa Shiromani, Percussive Arts Centre, Bangalore (2004)
Honorary Doctrate, Bangalore University (2003)
Padma Bhushan, Government of India(2001)
Manaviyam (Millennium) Award, Government of Kerala (2001)
Lotus Festival Award, City of Los Angeles (1998)
Special Medal of Honour, HH King Birendra of Nepal (1997)
Best Composer Award/Commission, NRK P2, Norway (1996)
Sangeeta Ratna Mysore, T. Chowdaiah Memorial National Award (1996)
Awarder at the World Music Festival at Madison Square Gardens, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New York (1995)
Nada Chakravarthy, Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji, Trinidad (1993)
Onida Pinnacle Award (Best title track composer: Surabhi) (1993)
Creative Music Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi (1990)
Padma Shri, Government of India (1988)
Award for outstanding contribution to Indo-American goodwill, understanding and friendship, Indo-American Society (1988)
Sangeeta Sagaram, Cultural Centre of Performing Arts (1984)
Grammy Nomination (for the album Indian Classical Music) (1981)
Orpheus of the East Kala Samarpana, Alliance Francaise, Chennai (24 November 1972)
Violin Chakravarthy, Governor of Madras (6/11/1972)
Best Western Instrumentalist, IIT Madras (1972)
President's Award for Best Violinist, All India Radio (1963)
Subramaniam was married to Viji (Vijayashree Shankar) Subramaniam, who died on 9 February 1995 and since November 1999 has been married to theIndian playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy. He has four children with Viji — Narayana Subramaniam, Gingger Shankar, Bindu Subramaniam, and Ambi Subramaniam.
He continues to perform pieces with his daughter singer/songwriter Bindu Subramaniam, violin duets with his son, Ambi Subramaniam,” and has further recorded and given several concerts with Krishnamurthy. Their collaborations have earned them the nickname Subramaniam Gharana. He also performs with his eldest son Dr. Narayana Subramaniam.
He started the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival in 1992, to honour the memory of his father Professor V. Lakshminarayana, who died in 1990. Artists have included the Subramaniam family, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Solo Cissokho, Miya Masaoka, Mark O'Connor, Loyko, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Larry Coryell, Arve Tellefsen, Pandit Jasraj, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, Corky Siegel.
The festival has centred around special concepts such as Violins for Peace, Visions of India and Sounds of India.
In 2007, the Subramaniam Foundation, a charity run by Subramaniam and his wife set up a music school called the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts (SAPA), in Bangalore, India. Enchanting Melodies on the Violin (1977) (with Palghat Mani Iyer)
Garland (1978) (Storyville) (featuring Svend Asmussen)
Fantasy without Limits (Trend Records) (1979)
Rainbow (1980) (with Ali Akbar Khan and John Handy)
Indian Classical Music (1980) (featuring Zakir Hussain)
Le violon de l'Inde du Sud (1980) (Ocora)
Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi / The Virtuoso Violin of South India: Subramaniam (1981) (Plateselskapet MAI/Lyrichord)
Blossom (1981) (Crusaders/MCA) (with Herbie Hancock and Larry Coryell)
South Indian Strings (1981) (Lyrichord) (with Palghat Mani Iyer)
Spanish Wave (1983) (Milestone)
Indian Express (1984) (Milestone)
The Irresistible Dr L. Subramanium (1985) (Oriental)
Distant Visions (1985) (Audiorec)
Mani & Co. (1986) (featuring Maynard Ferguson) (Milestone)
East Meets West (1987)
An Anthology of South Indian Classical Music (1990) (Ocora)
Indian Classical Masters: Raga Hemavati (1990) (Nimbus Records)
Kalyani (1990) (Water Lily Acoustics)
Expressions of Impressions (1991) (Sonic Atmospheres)
Indian Classcial Masters: Three Ragas for Solo Violin (1991) (Nimbus Records)
Sarasvati (1991) (Water Lily Acoustics)
Musical Heritage of South India (1992)
Beyond (1993) (New Earth Records)
Masters of Raga (1995) (Wergo)
Pacific Rendezvous (1995) (Manu Music Productions)
Electric Modes Volumes 1 & 2 (1995) (Water Lily Acoustics)
Matchless (1999) (with Alla Rakha)
Global Fusion (1999) (Warner/Erato Detour Records/Viji)
Free your Mind (2002) (Iris Musique)Larry Coryell
Asmita (2004) (Viji) (featuring Kavita Krishnamurthy and Bindu Subramaniam)
Maestro's Choice (2004) (Music Today)
My Golden Years (2004) (Music Today/Viji)
Best of L. Subramaniam (2004)
The Violin Legends (2004) (with Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli)
Violin Maestros (2007) (featuring Ambi Subramaniam)
Innovations (2012) (featuring Palghat Mani Iyer) (EMI)
L. Subramaniam with Stu Goldberg and Larry Coryell: Solos-Duos-Trios (1978) (MPS Records)
L. Subramaniam with John Handy and Ali Akbar Khan: Rainbow (1980) (MPS)
L. Subramaniam with Stéphane Grappelli: Conversations (1984) (Milestone)
L. Subramaniam and Yehudi Menuhin: L. Subramaniam and Yehudi Menuhin in New York (1987)
L. Subramaniam and Ali Akbar Khan: Duet (1993) (Delos)
L. Subramaniam with Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli: All the World's Violins (1993)
L. Subramaniam and Larry Coryell: From the Ashes (1999) (Water Lily Acoustics)
L. Subramaniam with various artists: Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival: Vol. I & II (Sony Music)
L. Subramaniam and Ustad Rais Khan: Sangeet Sangam (2005) (Navras Records)
L. Subramaniam with Karsten Vogel: Meetings (2007) (Calibrated)
L. Subramaniam en concert: Southern Indian Violin (1983) (Harmonia Mundi/Ocora)
India's Master Musicians (1983) (Delos/Ravi Shankar Music Circle)
Live in Moscow / Time Must Be Changed (1988) (Melodiya/Boheme Music/BMG/Viji)
In Praise of Ganesh (featuring Anindo Chatterjee) (1991) (Audiorec)
L. Subramaniam en Concert (1995) (Ocora)
Kingdom of Peace: Live in Nepal (1997)
L. Subramaniam: Live in France
L. Subramaniam and Bismillah Khan: Live in Geneva (1991)
Surabhi (1988) (composer, music arranger, musician: violinist)
Salaam Bombay! (1988) (composer, music arranger, musician: violinist)
Mississippi Masala (1991) (composer, musician: violin, violin synthesizers, percussions)
Ee Sneha Theerathu (2004) (composer)
Banaz A Love Story (2012) (composer, musician: violin)
Gour Hari Dastaan (2013) (composer)
Little Buddha (1993) (violinist)
Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) (violinist)
Cotton Mary (1999) (violinist)
Peace One Day (2004) (composer, performer: "Gypsy Trail")
Baraka (1992) (performer: "Wandering Saint")
L. Subramaniam: Violin From the Heart (1999). Directed by Jean Henri Meunier.