NEDUNURI KRISHNAMURTHI - VOCALIST...............(b.October 10, 1927)
"For classicism, turn to Nedunuri" is the prevailing slogan and it is well-said. His concerts present serene music, satisfying experience with a rich fare of graces, gamakas and the like. There is genuine, devoted outpouring of chaste Carnatic music well balanced in raga alapana, kritis, etc. He has a good voice and dignified rendition.
Krishnamurti was born at Kothapalli near Pithapura. He learnt music from Sri Appa Rao, Kalluri Venugopala Rao, Dwaram Narasinga Rao and Dr. Sripada Pinakapani and was a student of the Maharajah's College of Music, Vizianagaram.
He opted for violin for some time but reverted to vocal since his voice was an asset to be nurtured and not to be ignored. His first concert was in his own village, followed by one at Kakinada on the next day. He had won the first prize in a competition conducted by Saraswathi Gana Sabha, Kakinada and gave an excellent concert when the Flute celebrity, T.R. Mahalingam did not arrive. (When a celebrity does not arrive and a debuntante enters the stage, he is an instant success. Proof: Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar, G.N.Balasubramaniam).
Nedunuri Krishnamurthi has a prodigious memory; used to listen to AIR concerts and reproduce what he had heard and this aptitude, practice, self-acquisition and enhancement of expertise was a peculiarity of his - described as 'swayam-krishi'. He has mentioned that he would imitate great mastewrs like G.N.Balasubramaniam, Madurai Mani, Semmangudi Srinivasa Ayyar, etc., and that his concerts would be 'part imitation of great masters and part my own innovation.' He felt later attracted to the style of Dr. Sripada Pinakapani who took 'great pains to explain and teach the finer aspects and intricate details specific to each raga.'
Has served as Principal in three Government Music Colleges till he retired in 1985. Was on deputation to Sri Venkateswara College of Music, Tirupathi for four years. Had set to tune fifty kirthanas of Annamacharya. He directed and recorded the opera 'Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam' of Tyagaraja.
MADURAI N. KRISHNAN - VOCALIST...............(b.1928)
One of the few vidwans who have had the longest span of training under a top vocal luminary, Krishnan had his training under Sangita Kalanidhi Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar for seventeen years. Prior training he had with his father, Narayana Ayyar and brother Srinivasan. Father was giving musical discourses and Krishnan used to follow him as 'second' giving voice support. N. Krishnan has a pleasing personality and competent concert style. Has been giving a large number of performances.
He is a composer too and has enriched bharatanatyam with his varnas, padas, jatiswarams and javalis. N. Krishnan has been honoured by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram in 1982 and has received the Sangita Nataka Academy Award 1988.
RAMAND KRISHNAN - VOCALIST...............(September 1918 - January 29, 1973)
Music had no tradition in the family except to the extent that Brhannayaki and her sister used to sing well. And yet, there was sudden outburst, a deluge of melody and a downpour of exquisite rhythm among six brothers. Five had regular training in music - vocal or instrumental and the family brought name and fame to Ramnad to which they did not belong but came by chance even as Papnasam Sivan reached Papanasam from Polagam and got the prefix.
Kooniyur Vaidyanatha Ayyar and Brhannayaki were parents of a rich crop of talented artistes including Lakshminarayanan - violinist, Ramnad Eswaran (1913-1985) - mridangist, Ramnad Venkatachalam - violinist, Ramnad Krishnan - vocalist, C.V.S.Mani - Gemini Studios, Ramnad Raghavan (performing artiste) - mridangist (USA)
The family shifted to many places like Madurai, Chennai, Ramnad, Mumbai and Jaffna either in batches or in entirety. All were born at Alapuzha except Raghavan who was born at Madurai. Ramnad Krishnan underwent training in music with Talagnayar Subramania Ayyar - flautist ; Talagnayar Somu Bhagavatar - vocalist and the Drona of Melodies ; Ramnad Sankarasivam. Krishnan was a born addict to music and was attracted wherever there was an air of classicism. he was immensely inspired by Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavatar, a Sangita Kalanidhi and Brinda-Mukta, torch bearers of the style of the veena colossus Dhanammal. He made regular pilgrimages to such temples of music drawn and captivated by classical melody. 'Atma trupti' - self satisfaction - was his guiding spirit and his life was total surrender to the magical artistry of chaste melody and Nadopasana. At home, music pervaded and ruled and thus Krishnan grew up into a stalwart vocalist known for exquisite rendition and fragrant delineation of raga, neraval, pallavi, etc. The musical soul drew much guidance from elder brother Lakshminaryanan and Mottai Ayyangar, a bhajan enthusiast, besides Krishnaswami Ayyangar, a disciple of Kanchi Nayana Pillai and P.N.Raghava Rao, a close friend. Ramad krishnan naturally flowered into one of the most popular, classical giants aided by innate ability, intensive training and varied contacts.
He was an inspiring teacher and his disciples include - Nagamani Srinath, Dr.Rita Rajan and Vegavauhini. Krishnan was an exotic at Wesleyan (USA) and served for three months alone as he was not willing to be away from his musical country beyond that. He gave a concert at Philadelphia at the wedding of John Higgins, then undergoing training. Krishnan was Professor at the Central College of Carnatic Music, Chennai for about six years.
Krishnan was allergic to titles. Of course, the era of the 'Great Deluge of Titles' was not yet born. He was in the frugal company of musicians who shied away from honours.
KUNJUMANI & NEELA (SIKKIL SISTERS) - FLAUTIST DUO
Sarabha Sastri, T.R. Mahalingam and N.Ramani have been eminent/ prominent flute artistes. Strangely, reputed lady performers have been rare till the Sikkil sisters enered the field and very quickly distinguished themselves as top artistes on the flute. Music and more particularly flute was no stranger to the family earlier.
Quite rightly, a writer observes that 'the man who is not thrilled to the bone by the spectacle of a woman playing the flute, blowing the clarinet or struggling with the intricacies of a trambone, is no man.'
Kunjumani, the elder was born on June 15, 1930 and had the benefit of learning flute from her paternal uncle and flautist, Azhiyur Narayanaswami Ayyar. She embellished her training with the intricacies of laya (rhythm) under her father, Azhiyur Natesa Ayyar, a mridanga vidwan. Born in musical envioronments, she began giving concerts from the age of nine and in 1942 (at the age of twelve), the Mysore Samasthanam awarded the title 'Venu Gana Praveena', in recognition of her maturity of knowledge and capability even then.
Sikkil Neela, the younger was born on September 6, 1940 and underwent training with her eleder sister. Began to give independent flute concerts from the age of seven and was given the title 'Apoorva Balakrishna Avatar' by the late Justice ASP Ayyar in 1950 at Nagapattinam.
Sikkil Sisters have been giving concerts together since 1962 and have had the advantage of prominet artistes accompanying them. Top artistes of the AIR, they have been giving hundreds of performances at all the sabhas, television and elsewhere. Their daughter, Mala Chandrasekar is also in the field now giving fulte performances. Have given concerts abraod, notably in Singapore, Malaysia, USA & Canada.
Apart from the initial awards they got in their teens, they have been honoured with the title of 'Kalaimamani' the the Tamil Nadu Sangeetha Nataka Sangam in 1973-74 and awarded special prizes for best performances by the Music Academy, Madras in 1978, 1982 and 1986. The Doyen in flute, Palladam Sanjeeva Rao gave prizes to the sisters in 1952 and specially blessed them. It is relevant to mention that it was he who suggested to Kunjumani's father to give her training in flute. They received the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1989.
The sisters blend the tone and play on their flutes as beautifully and exquisitely as Sangita Kalanidhi M.S.Subbulakshmi sings with her daughter-musician Radha. The merger is toal and the effect remarkable. The Flute Duo provide excellent and rich play free from flaw and bristles and enjoy a good reputation for chaste, orthodox style in rendering raga, kriti and swara.
TIRUVOTTIYUR VINA KUPPAYYAR - VAINIKA & COMPOSER...............(1798-c.1904)
Vina Kuppayyar, a distinguished disciple of Tyagaraja was a genius. Born of Sambamurthi Sastri, Kuppa Ayyar had his training under his father and became a versatile vidwan both in vocal and on the veena. Veena Kuppayyar was honoured with the title of 'Gana Chakravarthi'. Sambamurthi Sastri was a famous vocalist and vainika and people would say, 'Sambadu (Sambamurthi) should sing and Sambadu (Lord Siva) should listen' - Sambadu Vayinchavala, Sambadu Vinavala. As was the father, so was the son in the field of music. A scholar in Sanskrit, Telugu, Kuppayyar was a genius in composing bhajan - divyanama kirtanas, varnas, kritis and tillanas. He was versatile on the violin also. His creative abilities were remarkable and being deeply devoted to his family deity, he adopted 'Gopaladasa' as his signature.
Veena Kuppayyar became a disciple under Tyagaraja. One day, he was playing on the veena of his guru surreptitiously in his absence. When Tyagaraja entered, he was suprised to hear captivating music and brilliant play on veena with remarkable felicity and competent fingering. When he found that the player was none other than his own disciple, he was most agreeably astonished. He immensely liked the disciple and pleased him by going over to his house at Tiruvottiyur and singing 'Venugopalaloluni' (Kedaragoula) in praise of the family deity of Kuppayyar; and also by staying at the Madras house of Kovur Sundara Mudaliar, where Kuppayyar enjoyed the status of asthana vidwan, for seven days and made a magnificient display of the potential and intricacies of Devagandhari raga.
From Tiruvottiyur, Kuppayyar shifted to Muthialpet in Madras. His fame and popularity were such that eminent musicians like Vadivelu of Thanjavur used to visit him frequently and take part in festivals and bhajans conducted by him regularly. Like Maha Vaidyanatha Ayyar he kept a big retinue of disciples, undergoing gurukulavasa at his house (free accomodation, food, dress, education and training - all included). His son Tiruvottiyur Tyagayyar, Kothavasal Venkatarama Ayyar, Sitaramayya and Fiddle Ponnuswami Pillai were among his disciples.
Kuppayyar's compositions include-
Intaparakelanamma - Begada.
Vinayaka Ninnuvina - Hamsadvani
Begada - Adi tala - Inta Chalamu
Bilahar - Adi tala - Inta Chouka
Danyasi - Khanda Ata - Nenarunchi
NAMAGIRIPETTAI KRISHNAN - NAGASWARA MAESTRO........................(b.April 2, 1924)
Namagiripettai Krishnan is the son and disciple of Kathan. He underwent further training with Ganesan of Aruppukottai from the age of fourteen and cherishes sweet memories of his apprenticeship. The teacher would give lessons only in fits and starts and would stop abruptly too. His mother's name is Kunjammal; one of his brothers is a percussionist (tavil) while another, Murugan is his co-player.
Krishnan during his visits abroad for concerts had an interesting experiences. He says that nagaswaram and tavil are inseperable twins like Siva Sakti unity. He knows to play on violin too. He is the accredited vidwan to the Tirumalai Tirupathi Devasthanams. He has played on nagaswaram for many films.
Honours & Titles:
Sangeet Natak Akademy Award - 1981
Isai Perarasu by Tamil Isai Sangham - 1983-84
Saptagiri Sangita Vidwanmani by Tyagaraja Trust, Tirupathi - 1992
He has been honoured with many other titles like 'Inkuzhal Isai Arasu', 'Nagaswara Isai Mannar', 'Perunguzhal Pulavar Mani' and a Doctorate (one of the three nagaswara vidwans who enjoy this honour now)