Song of Surrender

Monday, 25 September 2017

A master of ragas like no other

Random Notes
By V Ramnarayan

A musician’s musician. This has been the universal verdict among the cognoscenti of Carnatic music whenever the name of Ramanathapuram or Ramnad Krishnan comes up for discussion. Writing in  Sruti, vocalist Savita Narasimhan, someone who never heard him live, but grew to love his music making through listening to his records, once said: “In an age when the nagaswara-inspired, robust, masculine, forceful music of G.N. Balasubramaniam, Alathur Brothers and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer held sway, Ramnad Krishnan’s choice of the veena-like, delicately modulated style of singing was a decisive deviation from the general trend.” 
A recent event to kickstart Ramnad Krishnan’s year-long centenary celebrations at the Dakshinamurthi Auditorium at PS Higher Secondary School, Mylapore, featured three speakers, one an authority on Krishnan’s music, and his close friend and associate, the second, one of his disciples and a renowned musicologist, and the last one a leading contemporary vocalist who has studied and analysed Krishnan’s music  and revelled in it.
Spencer Venugopal is a consummate orator who brings poetry and erudition to his chaste Tamil without any of the harshness typical of some of its best known public speakers. Having listened to him on numerous occasions over the years, I cannot escape the feeling that you can wake him up while he is fast asleep and he will effortlessly launch into the most cogent analysis of his topic, especially if it has to do with the music of the Dhanammal school.
Expectedly Venugopal waxed lyrical about Krishnan’s exceptional mastery of the nuanced brand of raga music he imbibed by osmosis from the likes of T Brinda. Venugopal did not fail to stress the two-way admiration between Brinda and Krishnan as tellingly proved by the fact of Brinda entrusting Krishnan with the task of mentoring her daughter Vegavahini. He also repeated a story Krishnan’s son RK Ramanathan told earlier that evening about how the vidwan paid no heed to a close friend's advice to add spice to his singing in order to make it more popular among the lay audience and benefit him commercially. “If such a compromise would be my passport to worldly success, I do not need or want such wealth.” Highlighting the innate rhythm and balance in Krishnan’s music, be it in swara or tala, Venugopal confessed his partiality for the maestro’s exquisite raga elaboration. “His contribution to music in a short span was enormous, his musical journey a grand one, ” he said, though his early death was a great loss, still felt by the world.
Dr Ritha Rajan spoke of Krishnan’s sterling qualities as a teacher. He was as concerned about his students as they were devoted to him, taking great pains to cater to the specific requirements of each of them based on aptitude, strengths and limitations. She mentioned the names of Nagamani Srinath, Vegavahini Vijayaraghavan, Neyyatinkara Vasudevan, Nirmala Sundararajan and Janaki Sunderarajan among others.  Their growth, development and concert readiness were all important to him and they could approach him for guidance at any time. Ritha Rajan recalled an occasion when he spent over an hour guiding her telephonically through a ragam-tanam-pallavi in an unfamiliar raga that she had to conjure up during an audition. He encouraged his disciples to absorb the best from other artists and wholeheartedly praised musicians from all quarters.
Few musicians could have deconstructed a great musician’s art and craft better than the way TM Krishna analysed Ramnad Krishnan’s music during the centenary opener. Referring to the unique sound of Krishnan’s voice, he said his voice was inseparable from his music. Taking the example of Sahana, one of Krishnan’s signature ragas, he marvelled at the transformational flow from one syllable to another, with the quintessence of the raga reflected in the three swaras ma, pa, and dha. Like every other aspirant, TMK too had tried to imitate Krishnan but did not succeed in his attempt, he said. Amazed as he was by the precision of length of his swaras, he would not conjecture if the vidwan achieved his special aesthetics by design or if it all came naturally to him. Dispelling the notion that the vidwan’s music was slow paced, Krishna stressed the poise and measured gait that made even his brisk madhyama kalam seem slower. He also asserted that it was ‘dangerous’ to attempt to reproduce Krishnan’s vocalisation, because what seemed effortless for Ramnad Krishnan could damage your voice when you tried it. Pooh-poohing the theory that aggressive ‘male’ music guaranteed the success of a concert, Krishna described the perfect fusion of the masculine and the feminine in Ramnad Krishnan’s music. Krishna closed on a note of regret, regret that we—both musicians and rasikas—failed such a great musician by not recognising his greatness during his lifetime. He questioned the very idea of janaranjakam, the very need to yield to so-called popular demand.

The whole programme was webcast live by Swathi Soft Solutions, and its recording  can be seen right from Apoorva-Anahita’s invocation song to the DVD Musician’s Musician by SB Khanthan, who also anchored the programme. It can be watched on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boncCXKfPxY.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Emani Sankara Sastry

23.9.1922 - 1987
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Emani Sankara Sastry was born in DraksharamamAndhra Pradesh. He came from a family of celebrated classical musicians. His father Vainika Bhooshana Veena Acharya Emani Achyutarama Sastri, a famed vainika and sastragna was a contemporary of Sangameshwara Sastri and Veena Venkata Romainiah Das of Andhra.


Emani played duets with Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and Pandit Gopal Krishan (on vichitra veena) evoking enthusiastic responses from the North Indian listeners. After completing his education from Andhra University, he joined the famous Gemini Studios at Madras, where he was the music director for more than ten years. He composed tunes based on novel techniques and directed music for hit films such as ManglaSansarBahut Din HuweVindhyaraniNishanMr. Sampat and English version of Chandralekha.[1] His own compositions of keerthanas, javalis and bhajans can be frequently heard in his solo concerts. His operas in Hindi and regional languages are also very popular. Emani joined All India Radio in 1959 as producer of music at Madras. Soon he rose to the position of director and composer of national orchestra and chief producer of music. He presented over the broadcasting network a number of classical, thematic orchestral compositions and folk melodies bringing out the special tonal qualities of Indian instruments and synthesised musical patterns with a distinctive Emani touch. Emani was also associated with cultural and academic organisations. He was the asthaan vidwan (court musician) of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, member of the university grants committee – to advise on music and member of the expert committee at Madras Music Academy. He was also designated founder chairman of the committee to select candidates for scholarships of the education ministry for Carnatic music, was a member to select film awards (national), member of the central Sangeet Natak Akademi to select candidates for the national awards.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Guru Narmada

22.9.1942 - 30.3.2007
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Guru Narmada contributed immensely to dance and students of dance with her generous giving and sharing of all her knowledge of dance. She trained some fine artists like Lakshmi Gopalswamy, Manju Bhargavi, Sathyanarayan Raju, Nirupama Rajendra, Malathi Iyengar, Praveen, and Anuradha Vikranth. Her students describe her as a great teacher and a good friend and guide.

 A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee for her contribution to dance, Narmada also received the Shanthala Award from the Government of Karnataka. With over 25 years of teaching experience, she was one of the most senior dance gurus of Bangalore.

Narmada had her initial training from VS Kaushik, and training in the Tanjavur style of Bharatanatyam from KP Kittappa Pillai for 18 years.  
She opened her dance school Shakuntala Nruthyalyaa (in memory of her mother) at Bangalore in 1978 . Instilling in her students many rich, creative ways of using adavus without sacrificing classicism was a notable part of her teaching. She encouraged her students to retain their individuality and creative freedom within the classical framework.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Jitendra Abhisheki

21.9.1930 - 7.11.1998
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Jitendra Abhisheki, an exponent of the Agra gharana, was one of the most popular Hindustani vocalists of the 20th century. He received his musical training from . Hussein Khan and Jagannathbua Purohit. Known for his rendering of khayal and thumri, he did extensive research on the music of folk theatre.

Abhisheki won a reputation as a vocalist whose music, delivered in a husky voice, appealed to lay listeners as well as connoisseurs, though basically he sang for himself. His performances drew capacity audiences. His reputation burgeoned further because of his deep involvement with natya geet which was reflected in the natya pada-s he composed. In his musical creations for Marathi musicals like 'Matsyagandha', Khatyar Khaljat Ghusli', and Yayati ani Devyani'  , he blended tradition and modernity in a beautiful way.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

T.R. Subrahmaniam

20.9.1929 - 4.10.2013
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Professor T. R. Subramaniam popularly known as TRS was a vocalist in the Carnatic tradition. He was popular for infusing unconventional and populistic techniques in his renditions, especially of the pallavi, without compromising on the classicism of the rendition. Famous for his willingness to explore new avenues regardless of whether they would be accepted or not, TRS' concerts were much sought after. He was also much loved as a teacher.

The third recital of the series, on 7 July, was by T.R. Subrahmaniam of the Delhi University. He was accompanied by T.Rukmini on the violin, Trichur Narendran on the mridangam and  N. Govindarajan on the ghatam.

TRS opened the concert with Muthuswamy Dikshitar's navagraha kriti, Angarakam, in the raga Surati. For the seven kriti-s on the planets, Dikshitar employed the sapta tala-s, namely, Dhruva, Matya, Rupaka, Jhampa, Triputa, Ata and Eka, in that order. I have observed that many musicians employ the colloquial way of two beats and one veechu (sweep of the hand) the composer's intentions. Regrettably, TRS too took liberties and rendered Angarakam with two beats and one veechu. As an instructor of music, in its theoretical as well as practical aspects, TRS has a duty to uphold tradition, respect the sentiments of great composers and acquit himself as a shining example.


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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Parivadini Pratibha Series

By Lalitha Ram

Parivadini YouTube channel made waves when it arrived in December 2013 by webcasting over 150 concerts during the music season. Ever since, it has been an effective platform to promote upcoming talent and to showcase unsung heroes. Parivadini has once and for all changed the way carnatic music was taken to the target audience. Parivadini webcasts has webcast well over 1000 concerts live so far. Apart from the live webcasts, Parivadini also conducts a yearly concert/lec dem series and has instituted a first of its kind award. The yearly Parlandu award, instituted under the name of Fernandes (known as Parlandu), is given to a classical music instrument maker as a token of appreciation. Parivadini was registered as a charitable trust in 2015.

Ever since we started the yearly Parivadini Concert series we have been receiving a number requests from talented young musicians to feature them in our series. While we try to feature as many artists we can, our capacity is limited. As a result, we had turn down most of the genuine requests despite knowing their talent.

This trend has been irking our minds for several years now. This year we set out to change it through the introduction of “Parivadini Pratibha Series”. We have dedicated six “one hour” slots (akin to a typical slot in a radio concert) on Saturday and Sunday afternoons of December 2ndand December 3rd for this series.

We hope this way we will be able to feature more talents that deserves limelight.

Who is eligible for Parivadini Pratibha Series?

If you are an aspiring musician under 25 and if you have not performed so far in the Parivadini Concert Series, you are eligible to apply for a concert slot. Applications are open for both Vocalists as well as instrumentalists. You can also apply for a slot as a team (For example: Singer/Violinist/Percussionists).

How do I apply for a concert slot?

The applicants are requested to record a video (not exceeding 12 mins) exclusively for this purpose and share it with Parivadini. You could use dropbox or google drive to share your video. Our email ID is parivadinimusic@gmail.com. The recording must consist of a Raga Alapana and a Kriti Rendition. Please do not post the video for public viewing. Please note that the concerts would take place on Dec 2nd and Dec 3rd 2017. Please make sure that you are available on those dates before you apply. Please send us your bio data along with your entry. You may also provide links to recordings of your performance that are available in public domain as an appendix.

What is the selection Process?

We have a panel of judges comprising of knowledgeable rasikas and musicians. They will review the entries and select the top six entries. Needless to say that the judges decisions are indisputable. There is a good chance that an entry is very good yet doesn’t get featured in the top six. Such entries would be featured in Parivadini YouTube Channel with a special mention.

List of Important Dates:

05th Oct 2017: Last date to Submit your entry
05th Nov 2017: Top entries would be featured on Parivadini YouTube
10th Nov 2017: Winning Six entrants will be announced.

Saroja Vaidyanathan

19.9.1937
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Saroja Vaidyanathan  is a choreographerguru and exponent of Bharatanatyam. She was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 by the Government of India.

Saroja is a prolific choreographer and has to her credit ten full length ballets and nearly two thousand individual Bharatanatyam items. She undertook a cultural tour of South East Asia in 2002, accompanying Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the ASEAN Summit in 2002. She has also published her renditions of Subramania Bharati's songs and poems and some of his works have also been set to dance by her.

Saroja Vidyanathan has written a number of books on Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music including The Classical Dances of IndiaBharatanatyam – An In-Depth StudyCarnataka Sangeetham, and The Science of Bharatanatyam.


Saroja was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 by the Government of India. She is also the recipient of the Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman of the Government of Delhi, the Kalaimamani title bestowed by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She was conferred the title of 'Bharata Kalai Sudar' in 2006.

Indrani Rahman

Birthdays & Anniversaries

19.9.1930 - 5.2.1999
Indrani Rahman was an Indian classical dancer, of Bharata NatyamKuchipudiKathakali and Odissi, which she popularised in the west, and later settled in New York in 1976.
In 1952, she won the Miss India pageant. Later, she joined her mother Ragini Devi's company. She popularised the Indian classical dance form, Odissi during her international tours. Indrani had received the Padma Shri in 1969 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the performing arts and also the Taraknath Das Award.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Jon Higgins

Birthdays & Anniversaries
18.9.1939 - 7.12.1984

Jon Borthwick Higgins (September 18, 1939 – December 7, 1984), also known in India as Higgins Bhagavatar, was an American musician, scholar, and teacher known principally for his rare skill as a non-Indian in the field of Carnatic music. He lived much of his student and professional life at Wesleyan University.
He founded the Indian music studies program at York University in Toronto with Trichy Sankaran in 1971, and returned to Wesleyan in 1978 as a professor of music and Director of the Center for the Arts. He continually sought to strengthen the quality of Wesleyan's curriculum, and immersed himself in numerous cultural activities inside and beyond the university community. He also maintained a deep relationship with his family.
Higgins was a singer of European and Western classical music. He is also recognized as the first non-Indian to perform South Indian classical Carnatic music at a high level of proficiency. He began his Indian music studies in Wesleyan courses taught by Robert E. Brown and T. Ranganathan, and was quickly captured by the subtle beauty of the art form. He decided to fully dedicate himself to learning the language of Carnatic music, and went to India on a Fulbright scholarship to learn from Ranganathan's brother, T. Viswanathan. Within a short period of time he performed to great acclaim at the Tyagaraja Aradhana, an important music festival in South India. He later continued his studies under their sister, renowned dancer T. Balasaraswati, and wrote his dissertation on the dance music of bharatanatyam. Higgins returned to India as a Senior Research Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He continued to perform Carnatic music, recorded several albums, and due to his widely recognized sensitivity was honored with the sobriquet "Bhagavatar" (scholarly musician). 

Lalgudi G. Jayaraman

17.9.1930 - 22.4.2013
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Lalgudi Gopala Iyer Jayaraman (17 September 1930 – 22 April 2013) was an Indian Carnatic violinist, vocalist and composer. He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2001. He is commonly grouped with M.S. Gopalakrishnan and T.N.Krishnan as part of the violin-trinity of Carnatic Music.

He expanded the style of violin playing by inventing a whole new technique that is designed to best suit the needs of Indian Classical Music and establishing a unique style that came to be known as Lalgudi Bani'. Jayaraman composed several 'kritis', 'tillanas' and 'varnams' and dance compositions, which are a blend of ragabhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. Lalgudi's instrumental talent comes to the fore in the form of lyrical excellence. He brought the most-sought-after vocal style into violin, and his renditions exhibit knowledge of lyrical content of the compositions.[4][5][6] Lalgudi actively and scientifically learned to self-critique his performances and dutifully wrote detailed reviews after each concert, a habit encouraged by his father and guru.[1] He was loath to experiment on stage in his solo concerts and almost always planned to the last detail, leading a certain critic to tout them as being intellectual rather than emotional in spirit, but Lalgudi's spontaneity and innate musical genius were often seen when he accompanied leading vocalists.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

M.S. Subbulakshmi

16.9.1916-11.12.2004
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi (also known as M.S.) was an Indian Carnatic singer from MaduraiTamil Nadu. She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.[1] She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia's Nobel Prize,[2] in 1974 with the citation reading "Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India

The rendering of songs in Carnatic music is in the nature of 'ashtavadhana' (a feat of doing eight things simultaneously). It consists of adherence to sruti, command over laya, remembering the sahitya, knowing its meaning, bringing out the bhava, correct pronunciation, understanding the special features of a raga and the use of gamaka-s. One who masters all these aspects is a compleat (meaning perfect) musician. MS was one of the few who belonged to this elite category.

A rarely known fact is that Jaidev, the venerable music director of Hindi movies, had approached MS to sing Allah tero naam in Gaud Sarang for the movie 'Hum Dono'. Unfortunately she did not agree as she had cut off all connections with the film world after 'Meera'. One can only speculate as to how the song would have been rendered by her. Instead Lata Mangeshkar provided the playback singing in a chorus. She sang the song as only she could have done. It became an all-time hit. In this connection a recent interview of Lata by The Times of India will be of interest to readers of Sruti. She listed her ten favourite songs. The first one was Aayega aanewala in 'Mahal'. This is what she said: "In those days I was a fan of M.S. Subbalaxmi (sic). I must have seen her film 'Meera' at least 50 times. Her style of singing got ingrained in my memory. Though the lyrics of 'Mahal' (written by Kamal Amrohi) were almost Urdu, while singing it I imagined how Subbalaxmi would have sung it." What a tribute from one Bharat Ratna to another!.


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Alathur Venkatesa Iyer

16.9.1895-1958
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Venkatesa Iyer (born 1894) had drifted from a vedic-chanting family to learn music. He mastered the harmonium and could even demonstrate gamakas on the instrument, goes the story. Moving forward to the 1910s, Venkatesa Iyer married and settled down in Tiruchi. The first son, born in 1914, did not survive even for a year. The second, born in 1916, was named Sivasubramaniam.


Venkatesa Iyer’s association with Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai and Palani Muthiah Pillai, and his opportunity to tune the lyrics of Tiruppugazh which had a variety of complex rhythmic settings, rooted him strongly in laya. This was meticulously imparted to the two boys, making them experts in this aspect of music.

Friday, 15 September 2017

T.N. Seshagopalan

15.9.1948
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Sri Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan, the celebrated Carnatic musician and composer had his initial musical training under his mother and Sri. Ramanathapuram C. S. Sankarasivan (a great disciple of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, the eminent musician and composer). (Sri Sankarasivan is the elder brother and guru of the famous mridangist C S Murugaboopathy).

In 1983 the prestigious Music Academy of Madras arranged to have a program of Seshagopalan in order to record special CD's and cassettes which have now been released by Oriental Records in the United States.

His many commercial cassettes and CD's are treasured possessions of his many ardent fans and admirers.

Viswanatha Iyer


Birthdays & Anniversaries

15.9.1896-1970


He has been described as the Grand Cavalier of Carnatic Music; as a Rabelaisian character; as a bon vivant; as a bohemian of the well-dressed kind. He was all of this, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer was.

He was, in essence, a free spirit and this was manifest in his music as well.

Music was in his blood, born as he was to a man who was well-known as a gifted amateur musician among connoisseurs of his day. He was the third child of Rama Iyer of Maharajapuram and his wife Amba. Rama Iyer, a landlord, lived in Maharajapuram, a fertile village on the banks of Kaveri river, in Tanjavur district. Endowed with a natural musical voice, he used to regale select listeners with his raga alapana-s. He would be invited to sing at festivals and religious functions. It is said that listeners on such occasions would be so moved by the slokas and viruttam-s sung by Rama Iyer that they would even forget to taste the payasam- the sweet delicacy— served  to them.


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Thursday, 14 September 2017

VEENA SAHASRABUDDHE

By Veejay Sai

Birthdays & Anniversaries

14.91.1948-29.6.2016
Veena was born in Kanpur on 14 September 1948 as the last of three siblings. She had an elder brother Kashinath Bodas, and an elder sister who died prematurely. Veena’s mother Shanta was also a singer who taught music in local schools. Shanta was encouraged by her husband to pursue both her school and music education. Veena grew up in this musical atmosphere at home. In addition to her lessons from her father, she also learnt from Kashinath.

Veena’s parents Shankar Shripad and Shanta Bodas hailed from Sangli in Maharashtra. A contemporary of Omkarnath Thakur and Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Bodas was an early student of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.

Active in the nationalist movement, Paluskar was in the habit of sending his students to different parts of the country as music missionaries. He deputed Bodas to Kanpur, after being requested by locals to bring classical music to that mainly industrial town. Paluskar had performed in the 1925 Indian National Congress meet at Kanpur and by 1926 Bodas moved there with his wife and settled there. Bodas and Shanta founded ‘Sangit Samaj’ and started teaching, inviting other performers and propagating music in Kanpur. The music of the Paluskar tradition was essentially in the style of the Gwalior gharana.

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Alarmel Valli

By S. Janaki

Birthdays & Anniversaries

14.9.1956
There is never a dull moment in her dance. Alarmel Valli is one of the best known divas of Bharatanatyam. She has represented India at prestigious cultural forums and impressed mainstream audiences abroad with her eloquence in dance and words. She has intelligently sculpted an attractive filigree of nritta and abhinaya on the strong foundation laid by her guru Pandanallur Subbaraya Pillai. 

How do you describe Alarmel Valli’s dance? This petite, agile, and vivacious artist is always a picture of self confidence on stage. ‘Valli’ means a creeper and her slender arm movements have the sinuous quality of a creeper swaying in the breeze. 

Valli’s USP is the musicality of her dance. The titles of the documentary films on Alarmel Valli – Pravahi and Lasya Kavya – are apt and represent the ebullient, graceful and poetic nature of her dance. Well known features of her dance are her joyous nritta marked by midukku or sparkle, with liberal use of ottam (running) adavus interspersed with light aerial movements which help her lithe frame to cover space in an incredible manner. There is a kulukku or jauntiness in her walk, a certain alakshyam or sauciness as she flicks her wrist in the ullasa nadai. Valli is a vibrant dancer but not a photo-perfect one. Her facial angles, her arm stretches, her elbow positions, body bends, and her araimandi on the move may not always be on the dot. Her attami is not gentle but pronounced. She presents a judicious combination of mukhaja (facial) and angika abhinaya peppered with coquettish glances accompanied by a typical slant of the neck. This flows into her nritta as well, but her abhinaya is clear and communicative as she weaves in interesting metaphors, steering away from melodrama. However, as hers is a spirited style, her flashes of intensity are often swept away in the swift momentum of her dance. You are left wishing for quietude and visranti.


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RAMNAD KRISHNAN

By Savita Narasimhan

Birthdays & Anniversaries

14.9.1918
Krishnan was born on 14 September 1918 in Alappuzha in Kerala, to Vaidyanatha Iyer and Brihannayaki, hailing from Kooniyur in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. When Krishnan was four months old, his father shifted from Alappuzha to Ramanathapuram (anglicised to Ramnad) district in Tamil Nadu to join the service of the Maharaja of Ramnad. Krishnan was one of eight siblings. Since the family spent many years in Ramnad, all of them prefixed Ramnad to their names. Krishnan began his first vocal lessons in Carnatic music under the tutelage of his elder brother Lakshminarayana and his guru C.S. Sankarasivam (a disciple of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar). Among the brothers, Lakshminarayana and Venkatachalam learnt the violin, while Raghavan and Eswaran were trained to play the mridanga. By the age of seven, Krishnan had mastered Arunachala Kavi’s entire opera – the Ramanataka kriti-s. His singing prowess earned him opportunities in theatre while at school in Ramnad. Even at a young age, Krishnan had an inbuilt sense of rhythm. His guru Sankarasivam, who sang the complex Tiruppugazh in difficult tala cycles, accompanied by Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai, enjoyed making Krishnan keep the beat with his impeccable sense of rhythm.

In 1936, Krishnan moved from Ramnad to Madras, where he started performing and gaining exposure to the music of the veterans of the time. GNB was his favourite musician and Krishnan was a regular at his concerts, seen almost always in the front row. He was quoted saying, “Just as Hanuman is present wherever there is nama sankeertanam, so also will I be seen wherever there is good music.”

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Prabha Atre

Birthdays & Anniversaries

13.9.1932
In a career spanning  seven decades, the veteran, a representative of the Kirana gharana and a Padma Bhushan awardee, has performed all over the world, released several recordings, and authored books on music composition and music appreciation in Marathi and English. She worked for All India Radio and was the head of S.N.D.T University’s music department at Mumbai in the early 1990s.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Papa Venkataramiah

Birthdays & Anniversaries

12.9.1901-17.3.1972
Papa Venkataramiah was born on 12 September 1901 as the second son of violinist Karur Srikantiah. He, like Tyagaraja, belonged to the Mulakanadu (Murikinadu) sect of Telugu speaking brahmins. He could claim kinship of blood and music with the composer Matrubhootiah, and with the Devudu Brothers: Pedda Devudu (Venkatasubbiah) and Chinna Devudu (Krishniah), the violinist and composer of the Garbhapuri kriti-S; and also with Sangeeta Kalanidhi Karur Chinnaswami Iyer (1888-1967), who was a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award as well. Father Srikantiah was a disciple of Chinna Devudu and he helped his guru to establish a music school in Esplanade, Madras. In his time, Papa had his novitiate under Chinnaswami Iyer.

Papa wanted to become Govindaswamy Pillai's disciple in 1920 when the latter had come to Madras for a concert engagement at the wedding of Veena Dhanammal's grandson. It was a lucky coincidence, as Veena Dhanammal was Govindaswamy Pillai's patron-saint, philosopher and friend. Papa was accepted and this was a turning point in his career as a musician. Papa's own generation was dominated by three great violinists: Mysore T. Chowdiah, Kumbakonam Rajamanickam  Pillai and Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu.

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