Profiles of Artistes, Composers, Musicologists
Unless otherwise specified, the profiles in this section are
The Garland, Another Garland, Yet Another Garland and The
Fragrant Garland by Mr.N.Rajagopalan
DAKSHINAMURTHI PILLAI - PERCUSSIONIST WIZARD.............(1875-1937)
on December 30, 1875 (one authority mentions 1877), of Ramaswami Pillai,
Dakshinamurthi Pillai was a good for nothing lad till eighteen. Entered
service at Pudukottai and served as guard at the Palace for three years.
Learnt ghatam from a Pandaram and mridangam under Tanjore Narayanaswami
Appa and at his age of twenty-five or so, came under the tutelage of Manpoondia
Pillai, a wizard.
in his professional play had a robust view to 'keep to the middle of the
path. Appreciation of the entire audience was his motto. The odd man is
not your target to please.' He was at the helm to the last.
his training, he joined Balamani Ammal's troupe as percussionist and was
playing for musical discourses also. His entry into the world of concerts
certainly elevated the standard of the performances at which he was present
with his sweet, soft, adjusting brilliance. He was a colossus, a familiar
figure respected and admired and one is yet to see the replica of the Percussion
duo of Palghat Mani and Pillai on mridangam and kanjira. Versatile both
on the mridangam and kanjira, Dakshinamurthi Pillai was a wizard on kanjira
and was perhaps the first and the last of the giants on that instrument
which lacks sruti adjustments and has to be operated by one hand, holding
it by the other. He was cordial with one and all, quite prominent in higher
circles, an eternal source of encouragement to the young and an inspiration
to great masters like Karaikudi Sambasiva Ayyar and Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha
Ayyar. Immense faith in God Muruga, his exclamations, response and appreciation
were always 'Andava, Andava'. Quite in keeping with his life, he entered
on sanyasa at the end and took the name of Chinmayananda Guru.
DANDAPANI DESIKHAR - DOYEN OF HYMNODISTS.............(August 27,1908 -
Desikar was a supremo for decades in the field of devotional tamil songs
and dominated several fields of activities like singing of tamil devotional
songs, teaching, films, etc. He enjoyed a rich, absorbing voice and style
best suited for tamil devotional pieces and he appeared just when Tamil
Isai also was in its stride. Born at the pilgrim centre, Tiruchengattangudi
near Nannilam, of Muthiah Desikhar, he studied at the pial-school at Poovanur
and learnt Thevaram and music under his father as well as Manicka Desikhar,
Sattayappa Nayanakarar and Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai. He was very
popular and widely respected for his attainments, musical compositions
and contribution to the spread of tamil music.
made his debut at Tirumarugal, noted for its Saivite shrine and for its
brilliant nagaswaram maestro Natesan. He was teacher from his eighteenth
year at the Okkur Lakshmanan Chettiar Thevara Patasala for ten years and
was Professor and Head of the Department of Music, Annamalai University
for fifteen years. He was giving concerts.
has published on behalf of the Annamalai University and the Tamil Isai
Sangam, songs of Bharati, Padinalvar, Thevaram, Divya Prabandam and Tirupugazh
in 'Isai Tamizh Paamalai'. He has included his own compositions also. He
has acted in a number of films like Pattinathar, Vallala Maharajan, Manickavachakar,
Thayumanavar, Nandanar and Thirumazhisai Alwar. His chaste pronounciation,
sweet voice and steady tempo, spiritual and devotional songs and devout
rendition helped him and the films in gaining high popularity.
and titles :
Arasu', 'Pandisai Pulavar Kone', 'Thevara Mani', 'Sangita Sahitya Siromani',
'Tirumurai Kalanidhi', 'Thandaka Vendhu', 'Pannisai Vendhan', 'Isai Pulavar',
'Kalaimamani' from the Tamil nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram, 'Isai Perarignar'
from the Tamil Isai Sangam and 'Sangita Natak Academy Award'.
DHANAMMAL - VEENA MAESTRO.............(1868 - Oct. 15, 1938)
Institution, a phenomenon, a Queen Victoria in the Empire of Music, that
is how she is described. Years have gone by and still she is admired, her
name is treasured and her day is celebrated with acclamation.
elegance and purity of style, for richness and variety of store, she stood
supreme for half a century' - that was her merit. 'It looked as though
the instrument was invented for her; and she for the instrument', said
E.Krishna Ayyar. Dhanammal was the grand daughter of Kamakshiamma, reputed
vocalist and dancer; daughter of Sundaramma, who was trained by Subbaraya
Sastri, son of Syama Sastri; niece of Appakannu, the violinist; disciple
of her mother, Sathanur Panchanada Ayyar, Alasingarayya, Balakrishnayya
and Dharmapuri Subbaraya Ayyar besides Baldas Naidu of Wallajahpet and
Saidapet Tirumalachariar; sister of violinist Narayanaswmi and of Manickam
and of another, a percussionist; mother of Jayammal, a vocalist and grandmother
of Sangita Kalanidhi T.Balasaraswathi, the Bharatha Natyam exponent, Sangita
Kalanidhi Brinda Mukta vocalists and Sangita Kalanidhi T.Viswanathan Flautist.
volume, spread and continuity of praise drawn by Veena Dhanammal are phenomenal
next only to those of Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri.
Veena was heirloom of the family. She had a fine voice that blended with
veena. Fine touches, tonal shades, rich raga bhava, gamakas and embellishments
made her famous and popular. With her rich repertoire and her style, she
kept her place as an eminent player to the last. Melody and all the fine
graces - each in its place and in an appropriate measure - marked her concerts.
She often sang as she played on the veena but
never had a tambura or a mridangam as accompaniment as she believed that
the veena was a complete instrument in itself with in-built sruti and laya.
She would not tolerate even a whisper and wanted the audience to be silent'
- Savitri Rajan
forte was ragha bhava. Economy in choice and use of gamakas, softness and
delicacy of touch were unique. Her residence was a beehive of musical activity
for over two generations. In her concerts she would cover the master pieces
of all prominent composers. Veena Dhanammal is, of course, no more. Her
great attainments, her fame, her 'bani' (style) continue to inspire generations.
In brief, 'Dhanammal tradition' is the beacon light in the world of Carnatic
DORAI - MRIDANGIST.............(b.July 12, 1935)
had his training in mridangam, under Plaghat Subba Ayyar and Palani Subramania
Pillai, both renowned artistes and made his debut at the age of eight at
the performance of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, who had a life-long
craving to bring up young lads and help them. Guruvayur Dorai has been
having a busy programme accopanying top artistes at sabhas, radio and television.
Plays on kanjira too. He has anticipation and vibrant action. Was visiting
professor in the University of Washington, Seattle during 1977-78.
Gnana Samrat from the Association of Musicians in 1965
Mridanga Visarada from the AG's Office Recreation club, Chennai
Laya Mamani from the Tamil Nadu Nalvazhi Nilayam, Chennai
Vilas from Sangeet Peeth, Sursinger Samsad, Mumbai in 1982
Dr.DORESWAMY AYYANGAR - VAINIKA.............(b.1920)
of Venkatesa Ayyangar and Sringaramma, Doreswamy Ayyangar had his initial
training in music under his father, a vainika. Then he became a disciple
of the veena maestro, Vainika Praveena Venkatagiriappa. Made his debut
at twelve before the Maharajah of Mysore. Served the All-India Radio for
25 years as producer. His adherence to the traditional style of rendering
and his captivating play on the veena brought him respect and popularity.
His features on the All-India Radio like 'Vaaggeyakaras of Karnataka in
the post-Tyagaraja period' and 'Gita Bharathi' were popular.
was honoured with :
from the Karnataka Sangeetha & Nrithya Academy in 1971
Nataka Academy Award in 1971
Memorial All India Prize
from Mysore University in 1976
Bushan in 1983
Kalanidhi by the Music Academy, Madras in 1985
DURGA - MUSICOLOGIST.............(b. June 1, 1940)
at Kumbakonam of S.A.Venkatarama Ayyar and Lalitha, Dr.Durga earned her
Masters and Doctorates in Indian Music and Ethnomusicology from Madras
and Wesleyan Universities respectively. She did her post-post Doctoral
research in Ethnomusicology at Yale University, USA. She says that she
has been recognised as the 'highest qualified woman musicologist in the
has taught Indian music and Ethnomusicology at the Universities in India
and USA. She learnt music from her mother, a disciple of Rajamanickam Pillai
and had further training with Madurai Mani Ayyar, Maharajapuram Viswanatha
Ayyar, Ramnad Krishnan and Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna and has given concerts
in India and abroad. Proficient in Hindustani and folk music styles, she
has acquired a knowledge of other foreign styles. 'Her exquisite concert
which won repeated applause included songs in twelve languages', says the
'Indian Express'. Dr.Durga has several publications and articles to her
credit, besides compositions. She has founded the Center for Ethnomusicology,
Chennai. The International Music Club, New York has awarded the title 'Skylark
of India' to her