B.RAJAM AYYAR - VOCALIST.............(b. July 15, 1922)
Born at Pavattakudi (near Ramnad), of Balasubramania Ayyar and Lakshmi Ammal, Rajam Ayyar had his initial training under Tirugokarnam Subbiah Bhagavathar and Vidwan Ganapathy Ayyar of Kunnakudi, a Gottuvadyam and Jalatarangam artiste. After five years of intensive training, he took up gurukula under Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar for a decade of study and apprenticeship. He is the leading discciple and exponent of the style of Ramanuja Ayyangar.
Soft spoken, religious and studious habits, he has deep respect for and faith in sampradaya music. His personal charm, modesty and restraint are part of his personality. His long association with Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar enriched his repertoire. He further augmented his repertoire of Muthuswami Dikshitar kritis by taking special lessons from Sangita Kalanidhi T.L.Venkatarama Ayyar.
The period also witnessed his setting tunes and rhythm to all the songs of 'Tiruppavai' of Sri Andal, a large number of 'Rama Natakam' songs of Arunachala Kavirayar and others and publishing them. An acknowledged musicologist, he brought out the tamil edition of the celebrated treatise, 'Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini' for the Music Academy, Madras.
"His concerts are noted for the sustained interest they acquire from the tana varna to the lighter pieces bringing out the excellence in composition and musical content. The main characteristics of his presentation is his devoted integrity and fidelity to the compositions and the composers. A good musician of wide experience, charm and rich tradition, Rajam Ayyar is a model teacher. He is one of the top musicians who takes to Tamil songs liberally thanks to the special assignments he had undertaken. In 1942, he started his career with a concert at the Tyagaraja Aradhana at Tiruvaiyaru. From 1943 for 4 years he was music tutor to members of the royal family at Travancore. His advent at Madras started in 1956 with a performance at the Jagannadha Bhaktha Sabha, Egmore, which was then a favourite haunt for classical artistes of repute. His younger brother, Krishnamoorthy learnt music under him and got vidwan title at the College of Carnatic Music at Madras. They used to give performances together too. He has served on selection panels of Madras and Delhi Universities, is a member of the Expert Committee of the Music Academy, Madras and has given special recordings and demonstrations.
He has been honoured and felicitated by various institutions like :
Kalaimamani from Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram in 1981
Swara Vilas from Sursingar Samsad, Bombay
Sangeetha Kala Sikhamani from Indian Fine Arts Society
Government of India Fellowship 1984-86
Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award in 1986
Sangeetha Kalanidhi from Madras Music Academy in 1987
S.RAJAM - VOCALIST & ARTIST.............(b.February 10, 1919)
The portraits of eminent composers and musicians that adorn the walls of the Music Academy, Madras as well as some journals are the creations of S.Rajam. His paintings have come out in book form also (Navagraha and others of Kalaimagal publications).
'It is vital to understand the meaning and bhava of a composition to render the song with insight or the dance with emotional presentation.'
Through his 'Chitranjali', S.Rajam designs and produces letter-pads illustrating and depicting the meaning and bhava of songs to secure that understanding and appreciation of the bhava. The vocalist is a degree holder in painting from the School of Arts, Madras after six years of training. He has done a large number of portrait paintings like Vakkeyakaras of Indian music.
Son of V.Sundaram Ayyar and Chellammal, S.Rajam was born at Madurai and hails from the family of Srivanchiam Subbarama Ayyar. Had his training in music under a galaxy of stalwarts like Ambi Dikshitar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar, Papanasam Sivan and Madurai Mani Ayyar from 1929 to 1941. Since 1934, he has been giving concerts all over India and abroad. Has been the recipient of medals from the Music Academy, etc. and the title 'Isai Kadal' from the Tamil Sangam, Karaikudi in 1988. Was Music Supervisor in the All India Radio for thirty-five years till retirement in 1979 and took interest in popularising Tirukkural. Was on the All India Radio panel and is now on the Experts Committee, Music Academy, in the proceedings of which he takes keen interest.
Has been devoting much attention to the popularisation of the songs of Koteeswara Ayyar and songs in rare ragas. Has a number of disciples. The veena maestro, S.Balachander is a brother of Rajam. His paintings of the Carnatic Trinity have been appropriately unveiled at the temple of Sri Kamakshi by Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, Sankaracharya of Kanchi-Kamakoti Peetam.
KUMBAKONAM RAJAMANICKAM PILLAI
RENOWNED VIOLINIST.............(August 5, 1898-1970)
Rajamanickam Pillai was born at Alangudi near Nidamangalam, of Kamalathammal of Isai Velalar sect. The mother was very much interested in developing the musical talents of her son. He had training in vocal music under Nagaswaram Kandaswami Pillai, Tiruvisanallur Pallavi Narayanaswami Ayyar and Pandanallur Chinnaswami Pillai and violin under Tirukodikaval Ramaswami Ayyar for four years. He stopped vocal music under advice as violin suited his genius. The disciple was devoted to his guru and the master too had not spared the rod. In his musical advancement, Rajamanickam had the advice of Kumbakonam Flute Nagaraja Rao and Umayalpuram Swaminatha Ayyar, two senior vidwans.
He was a classicist. He never indulged in acrobatics or sudden thrusts and flashes. Bred on the banks of the river Cauvery, his play imitated its majesty while it is brimful and in full flow. It was dignified, masterly, chaste and satisfying. Violin in his hands found harmony and established close identify with the musician and rarely sought to carve out any distinct identity. The success of the concert was his concern. He was pleasing in manners, unostentatious on the stage and magnificient in play. Had a good personality. He would play for juniors also. He had played for all top artistes. Rajamanickam Pillai was honoured at the Courts of Ramnad, Cochin, Ettayapuram, Travancore and Mysore. He was Asthana Vidwan at Travancore in 1940 and at Ettayapuram in 1942. He had been the recipient of Sangita Natak Academy Award in 1959, Isai Perarignar from the Tamil Isai Sangham and Sangita Kalanidhi from the Music Academy in 1948. Once he got an elephant as a gift and donated it to Sri Adi Kumbheswara Temple, Kumbakonam. His disciples included M.M.Dandapani Desikar and Govindaraja Pillai.
T.N.RAJARATHINAM - NAGASWARAM WIZARD.............(1898-1956)
The sound, melody and high potency Carnatic music emanating from T.N.Rajarathinam's nagaswaram acted as anaesthesia, lulled pain, lullabied the child, silenced the angry and raised even the lay and uninitiated to the world of inventive, ecstatic and enthralling music.
He revolutionised the art by taking tambur and mridangam in lieu of the drone 'othu' and tavil. Rajarathinam hailed from Tiruvaduthurai. Son of Kuppuswami Pillai, he had his training under his uncle Tirumarugal Natesa Pillai in nagaswaram, Tirukodikaval Krishna Ayyar in vocal music and Tiruvavaduthurai Markandam Pillai in nagaswaram. Natesa Pillai, a brilliant nagaswara vidwan adopted him. Thus his training under the stalwarts helped Rajarathinam much. He was innovative, adventurous and adroit. He had graced not only 'Todi' but had taken 'Shanmugapriya' and certain others to sublime heights of fragrant improvisation.
He was given the Presidential Award in 1952. He has acted as hero in the film 'Kavi Kalamegam'. He has given several disc recordings which still rule the market. They convey the rich, captivating melody, the wizardry of his improvisation and the unsurpassable beauty and charm of his rendition. He did not relish suggestions and requests during concerts. At Rameswaram someone requested for 'magudi'. The vidwan handed over the nagaswaram to the party advising him to render it himself! He is among the illustrious artistes whose memory shall always be cherished. He was a wizard then and is a legend now.
SANGITA SIROMANI M.D.RAMANATHAN
VOCALIST/PEDAGOGUE.............(May 20 1923 - April 27 1984)
A classicist and gentleman par excellence, M.D.Ramanathan was one of the best examples of a true devotee to guru. He was totally devoted to Tiger Varadachariar, his teacher that it extended even to the imitation of his stage mannerisms! It used to be said that the guru-sishya relationship between the Tiger and the Cub was so noble that the student inherited even the squint in the eyes.
Born at Manjapara (Palghat) in Kerala, of Devesa Bhagavathar, a local musician, he had his initial musical training under his father. Simultaneously he completed his B.Sc. in Physics from the Victoria College, Palghat. He secured graduation in music from Kalakshetra and got his Sangita Siromani. Actually he constituted a 'single student first batch' for that course. Tiger used to refer to him as 'thief' for robbing him of all knowledge in music! A lifting recognition of merit in a devoted pupil. He was a professor in the same institution to the last. His voice was suited to slow tempo (vilambakala) and he developed his own style, which was sober, serene and effective. He was at his best in ragas like Sahana, Yadukula-kamboji, Sri, Kedaram, etc. Adverting to his slow tempo, an admirer is reported to have mentioned that blood pressure got to the normal by constantly hearing him and called him a music therapist. As a teacher, he was strict and very attentive.
He was also a composer in Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil and his deep faith in spiritualism found vent in his songs like 'Parama Krupanidhe' and 'Sambho Mahadeva' on Sri Kapaleeswaraswami, Mylapore. His 'Sagara Sayana' (Bagheswari) is an important kriti.
He was honoured with
the confernment of 'Padma Sri' in 1974
Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1975
Sangeetha Kala Sikhamani by the Indian Fine Arts Society.
A good musician and a sincere teacher, he was held in respect.
VOCALIST & MUSICOLOGIST.............(April 8 1917-March 19 1985)
'Dr.S.Ramanathan is the first artiste who shone both as a musicologist and a performing musician. Born at Tirukoilur (Velavanur), of Subramania Sastri and Pattammal, he started his tuitions in music at the age of seven with Tirukoilur Ramudu Bhagavathar and Manalurpettai Subramanya Dikshitar. Later, he continued his training under such stalwarts as Thanjavur Ponniah Pillai, Tiruvaiyaru Sabhesa Ayyar, Sathur Krishna Ayyangar, Madurai Subramania Ayyar and Tiger Varadachariar at the Annamalai University. He obtained the University diploma 'Sangita Bhooshanam'. He did not stop. His quest for learning led to intensive coaching from Valadi Krishna Ayyar and Devakottai Narayana Ayyangar. The silent, sincere and patient vidwan has expressed his gratitude also to Chidambaram Nagaswaram Vaidyanatha Pillai, Karaikudi Veena Brothers and Anayampatti Jalatarangam Subba Ayyar for enriching his musical knowledge. Nobody could boast of a larger list of distinguished tutors and no wonder, he was rich in music and rich in musical science and theory.
His versatility extended to research besides vocal and veena. The Tamil Nadu Sangita Nataka Academy took him as a researcher. He read his first paper on 'Musical Scales described in Silappadikaram' at the Music Academy, Madras in 1956. With B.Rajam Ayyar, he was connected with the Tamil version of 'Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini' of Subbarama Dikshitar, the greatest compendium in Carnatic music. It was as a teacher, he earned wide popularity and fame. He tried to infuse the influences of other cultures by learning Western methods of teaching and had held teaching assignments in USA, Taiwan and Malaysia, besides India. He had composed songs like 'Aadum Arase' (Surati). His concerts were noted for clasical emphasis, chaste music and freedom from acrobatics. Had a soft voice, a penchant for emphasis on meaningful rendering of songs with bhava highlighting the sahitya (text) - sangita (music) nexus, blend and significance. Personally, he was soft, mild and cultured carrying an immense load of vast knowledge and varied experience without a tinge of show or exhibitionism. He passed away after he heard Muthuswami Dikshitar's 'Abhayambhikayam' (Sahana).
Silappadikaram Isai Nunukkam
Masterpieces of Syama Sastri
Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini - Joint effort in transalation.
He has been the recipient of honours such as :
Isai Perarignar from Tamil Isai Sangam, 1981
Swati Thilakam from Swati Tirunal Sangeetha Sabha in 1984
Sangita Kalanidhi from Music Academy in 1985
Sangita Kala Sagara from Visakha Music Academy in 1987
Doctor Ramanathan had given hundreds of concerts and musical discourses (Kalakshepams) in addition to training a large number of students in music.
Prof. V. RAMARATHNAM.............(b. 1917)
Prof. V. Ramarathnam was born in Chittoor, Andra Pradesh in 1917. After his preliminary education he moved to Bangalore and received training in vocal music under Ganakala Sindhu D. Subbaramiah and Palghat Someshwara Bhagavathar. He later moved to Mysore and underwent rigorous gurukula training in vocal music for ten years under the legendary violinist Sangeetha Ratna Mysore T. Chowdiah. Ramarathnam's musical knowledge, repertoire and delivery, attained breadth and mastery through close association and interactions with stalwarts like Mysore Vasudevachar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer , Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and Alathoor Srinivasa Iyer.
Prof. Ramarathnam's career as a performing artist and teacher, spanned over four decades starting in 1945 as the first Vice-Prinicpal, Ayyanar College of Music in Mysore, started by T. Chowdiah. He then was chosen as the Professor of Music and First Principal of the the University College of Music and Dance, University of Mysore in 1965. Following his retirement in 1977, the University Grants Commission, Govt. of India invited Prof. Ramarathnam to continue his service as Emeritus professor, which he served until 1980. His research work during this period on the "Contribution and Patronage of Mysore Wodeyars to Carnatic Music" is considered to be an authoritative record. This work was recently published by Government of Karnataka, Kannada Book Authority. He has served as the Chairman of the Board of Graduate and Post Graduate studies in music, University of Mysore, Chairman, Board of Examiners University of Kerala, and as a member of the board of studies at Venkateswara University, Tirupathi. Prof. Ramarathnam has trained hundreds of students and has also guided doctoral students in music. The Mysore University Press has published ten books authored by him on the theory and practical aspects of Carnatic music. Many of these books are being used currently for undergraduate and graduate instruction in music.
Prof. V. Ramarathnam is an 'A' class artist of All India Radio and has been giving concerts for over fifty years at several AIR centers and throughout the country as well as United States. As a vocalist Prof. Ramarathnam's greatest asset is his style of rendering, that is stately, slow, reposeful, bounding in languorous tonal elongations and immersed in spiritually deep and concentrated expression. Listeners are made to feel and become aware of his mode, his means and his medium, coupled with his impelling motivation and technique in attaining the cherished goal with minimal use of paraphernalia. One his memorable concerts was a Madras Music Academy concert in 1958, to an audience filled with legends such as Chembai, Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer, Ariyakudi, (to name a few), when his guru Chowdiah received the academy's coveted Sangeetha Kalanidhi Award He has performed to the accompaniment of great artists including his own guru T. Chowdiah,Govindaswamy Naickar, Prof. T.N. Krishnan, Chalukudi Narayanaswamy, M. Chandrashekaran, etc. on violin and Palghat T.S. Mani Iyer, Vellore ,Ramabhadran, T.K. Murthy, Umayalapuram Sivaraman, Tanjore Upendran, Prof. Trichy Sankaran, Guruvayur Dorai , Alangudi Ramachandran etc on the mridangam.
Prof. Ramarathnam has received deep appreciation and recognition from the legends of his time for his scholarship in all aspects of music. He alo received a number of titles. He was conferred the title of Sangeetha Kala Rathna when he presided over the 14th Musician Conference under the auspices of the Bangalore Gayana Samaja in 1983. He is also the recipient of the Karnataka State Sangeetha Nritya Academy award, Karnataka Kalathilaka in 1986, Sangeetha Rathna Mysore T. Chowdiah Memorial Award for his long lasting contribution to music, in 1994-95, as well as recognition from many leading sabhas.
Motivated by Poet Laurete Kuvempu, Prof. Ramarathnam composed his first krithi "Karunisu Pramatha Ganapathe" in the raga Todi set to Rupaka tala, following which he composed more than 25 keerthanas and thillanas in Sanskrit, Kannada, and Telugu with the swanama mudra, 'rama'. Many of his students such as Prof. T.S. Ramaa, Uma Prasanna Sukanya Prabhakar, Dr. R.N. Sreelatha, Dr. T.N. Padma , Nagamani Srinath, Dr. K. Vageesh (Director of Carnatic Music, All India Radio, New Delhi) are performing artists of repute, professors of music, and are serving AIR centers and universities.
RAMNAD RAGHAVAN - MRIDANGIST.............(b. June 19, 1927)
Born in Madurai of P.Vaidyanatha Ayyar of Kooniyur, Tirunelveli district and Brhannayaki, he had is musical training from his brothers Lakshminaraynan -violinist, Krishnan - vocalist & Sankarasivam who had moulded many a musician and percussioist to fame.
There was not much music in the family to claim hereditary influence except a musical mother. Like the eastern sky, there was a flash; the musical sun smiles upon the family of Raghavan with no twilight to mention to present a vocalist, violinists and percussionists. Raghavan was with his brother Lakshminarayanan at Jaffna for about nine years and the itinery of the family took him to other places like Chennai. With a prominent mridangist in brother Eswaran and vocal and instrumental artistes in other brothers, Raghavan, the youngest of the musical brothers enjoyed ample scope for practice and soon shaped into a competent percussionist. He has provided able percussive accompaniment, besides Ramnad Krishnan, to most of the stalwarts with merit and artistry at sabhas, All India Radio, etc., Raghavan took prominnt part in organising the Tyagaraja Festival at Cleveland during 1978-1992 and left it only in 1993. He has been honoured by the Carnatic Music Association of North America in 1993.
A good artiste, Raghavan is giving earnest training to scores of foreign students now. A cultural ambassador to USA.