BANGALORE NAGARATHINAMMAL - THYAGA SEVA SAKTHA ...............(Nov.3, 1878 - May 19, 1952)
Born at Mysore, of Vakil Subba Rao and Puttulakshmi, she learnt Sanskrit and music under Giripatta Thimmayyah and violin from her uncle Venkitasami Appa of Bangalore. Had further training in violin under Munuswamy Appa, a disciple of Wallajahpet Krishnaswami Bhagavathar. Her desire for knowledge was so intense that she learnt Bharatanatyam under Bangalore Kittanna and Abhinaya from Madras Tiruvenkatachariar. Her over-all vidwat was polished of by Bidaram Kittappa. Puttulakshmi was discarded first by Subba Rao and later by Thimmayyah also. But she bore her travails and tribulations and brought up her daughter with an iron will. With multi-sided acomplishments, Nagarathinam made her debut significantly at Veena Seshanna's house in her fifteenth year. Palaces and Institutions availed of her immense training and talent both in India and in Sri Lanka. It is said that she gave 1235 engagements between 1905 and 1934, which is equivalent to ten times that now.
She enjoyed a 'gambhira' voice. Her infatuation with the songs and life of Tyagaraja was so intense and sublime that she executed a will on January 3, 1949 setting apart her assets to construct the Samadhi and to run a gurukula at Tiruvaiyaru to propagate the Bard's songs. There was Yaga, Yoga , Tyaga and Bhoga with nadopasana in her life of suffering and achievement.
Her only daughter died. Her attempt to adopt a girl failed. Her sufferings while young and these failures tended only to harden her admiration for Tyagaraja, the Prince of Renunciation, and her resolve to accomplish and achieve what all others had ignored. Her intense love of his songs was matched only by her passion for Devaranamas and to demonstrate that Purandara songs could also be sung likewise in such an elaborate and scholarly manner, she got up a concert of Bidaram Krishnappa at Madras to be covered only by Devaranamas. Mysore Vasudevacharya says, 'Ragalapana, Swarakalpana, neraval, everything was there as in a traditional concert. The audience felt delighted. They realised for the first time that the Kannadigas also have their own individualistic heritage'
She rarely rendered the kritis of Dikshitar as she felt that she would not be able to do justice to them because of her inadequate knowledge of Sanskrit. Tyagaraja and Purandaradasa had son her heart so fully that it had no space for others !
Her publications include Madhyapanam in Telugu, Sri Tyagaraja Ashtothra Namavali in Sanskrit and Panchee Karana Bowdheeka in Tamil.
Nagarathinammal reprinted the Telugu classic 'Radhika Swayamvaram' of Muddu Palani, a courtesan of the 18th century. Police seized all the copies taking objection to its high eroticism. Only in 1947 the ban was lifted. There was a fresh edition in 1952.
Titles & Honours :
March 6, 1949 - Tyaga Saktha by President of India
Vidya Sundari by Puranam Suryanarayana Tirthar
1932 - Gana Kala Visaradha by Kaviraja Krishnamurti Sastri.
Nagarathinammal needs no better honour than the appreciation and gratitude of the thousands who gather annually at Tiruvaiyaru for the Aradhana. 'Earn, Conserve, Distribute', this is my life-mission, declared the Founder of the Annamalai University. The application of the principle to the life of Nagarathinammal reveals that she belongs to the galaxy of eminent women of India. Literally she got dissolved in every respect in nadopasana !
KANCHIPURAM NAINA PILLAI
(C.Subramania Pillai) : Pallavi Colossus.............(July 25, 1889-May2,1934)
Glittering rendition, emphasis on laya, a full bench of accompanists, featured the concerts of Kanchipuram C.Subramania Pillai, later called Naina Pillai. Tall, well-built, slightly dark in complexion with a broad face and well dressed, Naina Pillai was known for his praise-worthy dedication to the art and science of music, excellent character and for robust self-respect. He was an addict to high values and adhered to the Code of Conduct laid down by Thyagaraja in his 'Niti Chala Sukhama'. His regard for the sanctity of music was so intensely pure that he resisted the recording of his music lest it should be played at odd places on road sides pulling down the image of the composer, the song and the musician. He declined titles and had the highest respect for his gurus; resisted the lure of gold and money when not due. He never compromised on principles even in times of distress.
His dignified humility, apt to be mistaken for egoism, was clear from his apologising to Tiger Varadachariar for not singing 'Vinata' as desired by him and prostrating before Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavathar seeking his blessings. A stickler for fair norms, once he reached the concert village late due to a car accident. He apologised profusely, started his concert at 10 pm, and in spite of personal injuries and fatigue went on upto 2 am. He fainted due to over-exertion in his anxiety to satisfy the music-loving people kept waiting. Thus his sense of self-respect could acknowledge and respect that virtue in others too. He was a gentleman and was aggressive in being so.
His quest for more and more songs was remarkably insatiable and his repertoire went on increasing. His concerts were distinctly unique in having the largest number of accompanists rarely seen in others except his own disciple Chitoor Subramania Pillai. There was a veritable array of accompanists - kanjira, morsing, konnakol, ghatam, dolak, etc. His addiction to 'Laya' was exceptional and the stage would vibrate with the competing performance of the different accompanists which he would enjoy. The great vocalist maestro handled kritis with such crispness and vigour that none felt the tinge of satiation. His note-worthy favourites included- Janaki Ramana - Suddha Seemanthini, Mamavasathatham - Jaganmohini, Ranidhi radhu - Manirang and Paramathmudu velugu - Vagadiswari. His swaras and pallavis were masterly, racy and scintillating. Pallavi and laya were his forte.
Born at Kanchipuram, of Kanchipuram Kamakshi Ammal and christened Subramaniam, he had a boisterous youth. His aunt-musician, Dhanakoti Ammal wanted to get him trained by Puducheri Rangaswami Ayyar, a disciple of Ettayapuram Ramachandra Bhagavathar while young but he was not interested. His mother and aunt were disciples of Kasi Sastri, a great grandson of Syama Sastri of the Trinity. So, they were anxious to carve out a career as a musician for Subramaniam, called at home as 'Naina' which stayed to the end. Naina was ultimately tamed by a musically-minded sanyasi called Kumaraguru or Paripurnananda, who trained him initially. Naina drew inspiration from the Ettayapuram maestro, Ramachandra Bhagavathar. The real turning point was provided by the concert of Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Ayyar with the stalwarts Tirukodikaval Krishna Ayyar(violin), Chennai Anganna Naidu (mridangam) and Pudukottai Manpoondia Pillai (kanjira). The concert was so inspiring that the irrepressible Naina became the most ardent devotee of music to blossom into one of the stalwarts of Carnatic music of ever-lasting fame.
His close contacts with Mannargudi Konnakol Pakkiria Pillai and love and passion for an ensemble of percussive accompanists carried him on the vibrant path of 'laya' (rhythm, tempo) to such an extent, that it became an article of faith, an obsession and a mission to him. His pronunciation was clear and lucid. He increased his repertoire by learning about four hundered Tyagaraja kritis from Jalatarangam Ramaniah Chettiar. He learnt the nuances of songs and ragas from Veena Dhanammal in a quid pro quo for teaching her 'Tanayunibrova'. He learnt Thevaram from Appadurai Achariar of Vellore. He took a vow to sing atleast two new songs of Thyagaraja in every recital. His swara elaboration and pallavi technique blazed a wholly new trail in the history of Carnatic music. He set to tune Tirupugazh songs and popularised them. He was thus different from other leaders of his time. He organised and celebrated Tyagaraja Festival with much dedication. A strict teacher, he was kind to his large retinue of disciples which included - Chittoor Subramania Pillai, Brinda, Tiruparkadal Srinivasa Ayyangar, Tiruvizhimalai Kalyanasundaram Pillai, N.S.Krishnaswamy Ayyangar and Seithur Sundaresa Bhattar. The great vocalist died at the height of fame and glory but prematurely, a victim of diabetes and tuberculosis. His memory is treasured by music enthusiasts.
A.V.NARAYANAPPA - NAGASWARA / MUKHAVINA ARTISTE.............(June 21 1912 - 1994)
Narayanappa was born in Arakalgud of Venkatappa. He had his training in nagaswaram under his father Venkatapa, S.C. Beluriah, Dodda Sinappa, Mysore Rangiah Naidu and Perambalur P.N.Angappa Pillai. He had his training in vocal music under B.Devendrappa of Mysore Palace and Alathur Venkatesa Ayyar. Narayappa had thus copious training under distinguished vidwans of proven merit. he was an expert in playing the ancient mukhavina also. He had given extensive concerts at various places and functions. A popular vidwan.
Titles & Honours
Sangita Kalaratna by Bangalore Gayana Samaja
Karnatka Kala Tilaka by Karnataka Sangita Nrtya Academy
Karnataka Rajyotsava Award
B.V.K.Sastry writes that the most important service rendered to music by Narayappa was the renovation of Kothandarama temple at Srirangapatnam on the banks of the Cauvery and raising a brindavanam of Sri Tyagaraja with daily worship and annual aradhana as at Tiruvaiyaru and that his aradhana has become one of the important cultural events in Karnatka.