U. Srinivas

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U. Shrinivas
U. Srinivas 2009.jpg
Srinivas performing in Pune, January 2009
Background information
Native name ఉప్పలపు శ్రీనివాస్
Born (1969-02-28)28 February 1969
Palakol, West Godavari Dist, Andhra Pradesh, India
Origin Andhra Pradesh, India
Died 19 September 2014(2014-09-19) (aged 45)
Chennai, India
Genres Indian classical music
Occupations Musician
Instruments electric mandolin[1]
Years active 1978–2014
Labels Real World Records
Website www.mandolinshrinivas.org

Uppalapu Shrinivas (Telugu: ఉప్పలపు శ్రీనివాస్ 28 February 1969 – 19 September 2014) was a virtuoso Indian mandolin maestro, trailblazer and composer belonging to the classical Carnatic musical tradition of Southern India. He is recognized worldwide as a colossus and the rarest of musical geniuses and is regarded as the Mozart of classical Indian music.[2] A prodigy, he made his debut in 1978, at the age of nine, and came to be popularly known as Mandolin Shrinivas. “Eddie van Halen, eat your heart out,” George Harrison reportedly said in 2001, having stumbled upon one of Shrinivas's albums. Over the next four decades, he toured across the world, and collaborated with John McLaughlin, Michael Nyman, and Michael Brook.[3]

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1998 by Government of India, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2009.[4] He was a follower and devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and had performed before him on several occasions.[5][6]

Early life and background[edit]

Shrinivas was born 28 February 1969, in Palakollu in Andhra Pradesh.[7] At the age of five, he picked up his father U. Satyanarayana's mandolin, after he heard it being played at a concert he attended with his father.[8] Upon realizing the talent of his son, his father, who had studied classical music, bought him a new mandolin,[8] and started teaching him. Guitarist Vasu Rao, introduced seven-year-old Shrinivas to western music in 1976.[6] Soon, Satyanarayana's guru, Rudraraju Subbaraju, (disciple of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar) who had also taught Shrinivas' father and Vasu Rao, recognized the astounding potential in the child Shrinivas and started teaching him.[6] Since Rudraraju Subbaraju did not know how to play the mandolin, he would just sing classical pieces from the Carnatic classical repertoire, and U. Shrinivas, all of six, would play them on the mandolin, thus developing a style of playing entirely his own. Soon, the family shifted to Chennai, the mecca of Carnatic music, where most Carnatic musicians live.[9]


Remember Shakti Concert, Munich/Germany (2001) (left to right) U. Srinivas, John McLaughlin, V. Selvaganesh

He made his debut public Carnatic concert performance in 1978 during the Thyagaraja Aradhana festival at Gudivada in Andhra Pradesh. Thereafter in 1981, at age twelve, he gave his first public concert in Chennai during the December music season of the Indian Fine Arts Society and never looked back.The skeptics were convinced and soon mesmerized, connoisseurs fell in love with him, and patrons of the arts could not have enough of him. At age twelve, a star was born, who was both revered and adored. [1][6] He started with the acoustic mandolin, though later he switched to the electric mandolin as he felt it allowed making lengthy, sustained notes - the quintessential component in classical Indian music - clearly audible.[8]

He was the first musician to use the electric mandolin in Carnatic music: he modified the electric western instrument, using five single strings instead of the traditional four doubled strings to suit the Carnatic pitch, raga system, and especially gamakas, or nuanced oscillations.[10] After initial reluctance, he found wide acceptance and critical acclaim in the following decades. Soon he performed regularly during the December season of the prestigious Madras Music Academy performing there every year except in 2002.[6][11][12] He played at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1983 and at the Olympic Arts Festival, Barcelona in 1992.[11] In 1995, he recorded a successful fusion album with Michael Brook.[13] It was at the Berlin Jazz Festival that John McLaughlin, first met and heard the fourteen-year-old prodigy, and was left very impressed. It took McLaughlin fourteen years to get Shrinivas to play with him. When he revived his group Shakti, and renamed it Remember Shakti, in 1997, he asked Shrinivas to join the group and tour the world with it, along with other celebrated Indian musicians Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan, and V. Selvaganesh.[14][11] Shrinivas toured extensively across the world, in his own right, as a prodigy and leading star from the classical Indian music firmament, receiving thunderous applause and appreciation wherever he performed - he played in Australia, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and extensively and frequently across the United States and Canada.[1] Soon, the mandolin became synonymous with Shrinivas and he started being called Mandolin Shrinivas. Thus, Shrinivas stands as a trailblazer and pioneer, who introduced and adapted a western instrument, the mandolin, and made it suitable for performing in the rigorous Carnatic style of music, in the same manner that the violin had been introduced into both Carnatic and Hindustani classical music several decades earlier. [1][15]

His younger brother, U. Rajesh, is also an accomplished mandolin player, and often accompanied him at concerts.[13] He also plays jazz and western music, and played the mandolin in the John Mclaughlin album 'Floating Point' which received a Grammy nomination in Best Contemporary Jazz Album Category in 2008.[12] Shrinivas and Rajesh together composed music as well, and besides Carnatic music, extensively worked on fusion of Carnatic with western music. They also played with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, with French electric bass player Dominique Di Piazza and Stephen Devassy, a pianist from Kerala. In 2008, they collaborated again with John Mclaughlin for the album, "Samjanitha", which also featured Zakir Hussain, Sivamani, and George Brook.[12] Shrinivas compared Carnatic music to the Sanskrit language, "It's the basis, from which spring so many other languages. Carnatic music is here to stay with us and all other music that we play is based on that."[12]

Over the years, Shrinivas recorded over 137 albums, in diverse genres from Carnatic music solos to jugalbandis with Hindustani musicians, and world music.[9] He performed with Western artists such as John McLaughlin, Michael Brook, Trey Gunn, Nigel Kennedy, Nana Vasconcelos, and Michael Nyman, as well as with Hindustani music artists such as Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain, besides Carnatic artists like Vikku Vinayakram and V. Selvaganesh.[6][15] U. Shrinivas started a music school called the Shrinivas Institute of World Music (SIOWM) in Chennai, where he taught a number of students gratis.[8][12]

Personal life[edit]

Shrinivas married U. Sree, daughter of an IAS officer in 1994. The couple had a son, Sai Krishna, and were divorced in 2012.[6]

Illness and death[edit]

Shrinivas had undergone a liver transplant on 11 September 2014 and was recovering when complications arose on the evening of 18 September. He died at 9.30AM on 19 September 2014, due to liver failure at Apollo Hospital, Chennai, leaving the world of music and his millions of fans in a state of disbelief and shock. [16] He is survived by his son, parents, brother Mandolin U. Rajesh and sister.[15]

Awards and achievements[edit]

Some of the awards that Mandolin U. Srinivas received:


He recorded a CD of Carnatic compositions by Ilaiyaraaja called Ilaiyaraaja's Classics in Mandolin. In 2008, U Srinivas released ' Samjanitha ' featuring Debashish Bhattacharya (Lap Steel Guitar), John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, Sivamani, Vikku Vinaykram, Dominique Piazza Michael Brook, U Rajesh and others.

Partial discography:

Mandolin - Master U. Srinivas (Magnasound, 1986)

Mandolin Ecstasy (Oriental, 1986)

Magic Mandolin (Chhanda Dhara, 1989)

Music on Mandolin (Super Cassette, 1990)

Double Mandolin (The Master Company, 1991)

Modern Mandolin Maestro (GlobeStyle, 1991)

Trio Mandolin (Koel, 1992)

Mandolin Duets (EMI Music, 1994)

Prodigy (Koel, 1994)

Rama Sreerama (Real World Records, 1994)

Dream, with Michael Brook (Real World 62352, 1995)

Dawn Raga (Womad, 1996)

Marvels on Mandolin (Magnasound, 1996)

Mandolin (Geethanjali, 1998)

Mystic Raptures (Music Today, 2000)

Remember Shakti: The Believer, with Shakti (Polygram, 2000)

Mandolin Magic (Dunya, 2001)

Gamanashrama (Charsur, 2003)

Sangam: Michael Nyman Meets Indian Masters (WEA, 2003)

Om Nama Shivaya (Sea, 2004)

Five Star (Saregama 2004)

Mandolin Melodies: South Indian Classical Music (Felmay, 2005)

Ragasangamam (Music Today, 2006)

Sahavaadhan (Living 2006)

Samjanitha (Dreyfus Records, 2008)

Chinnanchiru Kiliye (Music Today, 2011)

Sangeet Santaj Vol. 1 & 2 (Music Today, 2011)

Ru-Ba-Ru: A Unique Confluence of Sarangi & Mandolin (Music Today, 2011)

Dikshitar Masterpieces (Music Today, 2011)

Under the Sangeetha Music label, U. Shrinivas has cut the following discs:



Double Mandolin

Meenakshi Memudam

Pancharatna Kritis –Trio Mandolin

Magnetic Mandolin

Naada Brahmaanandam (Double Mandolin)

Naanu Palimpa

Vaathapi on Mandolin

Endaro Mahanubhavulu

Enduko Dayaradura

Gaana Sampoornam

Mandolin Ganamrutham


  1. ^ a b c d "Renowned musician Mandolin U Srinivas passes away at 45". CNN-IBN. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Ramamoorthy, Mangala (17 June 2006). "'We move around like brothers'". The Hindu (Chennai). Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  3. ^ Gautam, Savitha (27 March 2003). "The 'shakti' of sound". The Hindu (Chennai). Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  4. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (India). Retrieved 8 March 2009. 
  5. ^ "Beautiful Mandolin Concert by U. Srinivas and U. Rajesh". Prasanthi Diary. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Kamini Mathai (19 September 2014). "Mandolin U Srinivas, a rebel who silenced his critics with music". The Times of India. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  7. ^ Hunt, Ken. "U. Srinivas – Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Carnatic world mourns as mandolin great U Srinivas passes away in Chennai". Firstpost. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Aruna Chandraraju. "Disarming humility". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  10. ^ http://www.carnatica.net/sangeet/mandolin2.htm
  11. ^ a b c Samanth Subramanian (19 September 2014). "U. Srinivas, who made the mandolin his own, and many others', passes". Mint. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Manmadhan, Prema (27 August 2010). "Mandolin magic". The Hindu. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Ellingham 2000, p. 85.
  14. ^ Lavezzoli 2006, p. 116-117.
  15. ^ a b c "Mandolin Shrinivas passes away". The Hindu. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Janani Sampath,TNN (19 September 2014). "Mandolin U Srinivas, popular Carnatic musician, passes away". The Times of India. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)". Ministry of Home Affairs. 
  18. ^ "SNA: List of Akademi Awardees". Sangeet Natak Akademi Official website. 


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