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
ANNAVI - VEENA & BHARATANATYAM
family from Tirunelveli. Senthilvel Annavi headed a line of renowned
artistes for five generations and over. Mahadeva Annavi, son of Senthilvel
Annavi was a reputed teacher who trained many in veena and bharatanatyam.
Thulajah Rajah of Tanjore presented him with a house and lands of over
sixty acres. The Tanjore Quartette were sons of Mahadeva.
- FLUTE WIZARD............(November 6, 1926 - May 31, 1986)
It is the
privilege and sagacity of a chosen few to conjure up grand classical visions
of supreme sublimity presenting beauteous graces and portraying graceful
beauty. They open up magnificent vistas of art, enchant the cognoscenti
and the lay. The spell outlasts their period of glory and fame. Sarabha,
the flautist, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Ayyar and Pushpavanam, the vocalists,
T.N.Rajarathinam, the nagaswara player and S.G.Kittappa, the dramatist
are specimens of this legendary galaxy. To this aristocracy of art belongs
T.R.Mahalingam, popularly called Mali. When Sarabha left after two and
thirty years in 1904, there was a vacuum with Palladam Sanjiva Rao and
others holding charge. It was left to Talagnayar in Tanjore district to
present after a lapse of two decades a flute prodigy who staged a quick
and massive presence, plundered the hearts of music-lovers and looted all
praise! His debut was immediate in 1933 at the age of seven at the Tyagaraja
Festival, Mylapore. Like the eastern sun which shoots out sans twilight
on the Marina, there was no period of apprenticeship or vegetating. The
lad came with his magician's play on the bamboo flute and was crowned king!
flute-play dwarfed the mature, sedate play of palladam Sanjiva Rao, who,
incidentally, did not evince interest in taking the boy as his ward. There
is no account of Mali following the footprints of Ekalayva but like Uthukadu
Venkatasubba Ayyar, he was his own master - with the difference that Mali
could not emulate the Uthukadu pattern of sublime private life! Music-lovers
thronged Mali's concerts. An eka santha grahi, he saw the contours
of raga shapes on the horizon and developed his play pouring out enchanting,
titillating alapanas and swaras with the support of his tender lungs. His
melody blitzkrieged the music world and the audience sat soaked
in transcendental melody, chaste and warm, mind and body tuned to the vibrant
but soulful music. Like Venna Balachander, Mali is credited with evolving
a style close to vocal rendition that took care of the sahitya and the
bhava conveyed therein. Mali's rendition enraptured the audience and he
was a legend as a teenager. "Verily a divine messenger in Carnatic music,
he knew its boundless dimensions.'
Son of Ramaswami
Ayyar, Mali was born at Tiruvidaimarudur and learnt vocal music from Jalra
Gopala Ayyar along with his elder brother Gouthaman. He switched over to
flute soon. His ascent to the top centre stage was so quick and dynamic
that there was difficulty in finding accompaniment as juniors felt dazed
while seniors were ill at ease to be sidemen to a boy ! Quite soon, reluctance
of seniors gave place to a sush to participate in his concerts ! Mali -
Palghat Mani were the select top pair like Miller - Lindwall or Prasanna
- Chandrasekhar in cricket and S.G.Kittappa and K.B.Sunderambal in drama.
There was perfect identity of approach, anticipation and understanding
between the two colossuses in presenting, rhythm supported melody, vibrant
music each prodding and complementing the other. The identity did not rest
with partnership on the concert stage and forming a grand alliance. Both
were prodigies; both shot into fame like the Caesar's veni, vidi, vici;
and both left this planet in the month of May ! It is perplexing that unpredictable
Mali and stoic Mani could forge an enduring partnership. They were poles
apart in personal traits and yet they understood and appreciated the artistic
merits of each other well. Mahalingam left a rich crop of disciples in
Dr.N.Ramani, Dr. Prapancham Seetharam, T.S.Sankaran. N.Kesi, Dindigul Natarajan,
N.S.Srinivasan, K.S.Narayanan and L.Sundaram.
One has heard
of Maha Vaidyanatha Ayyar declining to sing 'Giripai' stating that
it had become the property of Bikshandarkoil Subbarayar and of Harikesanallur
Muthiah Bhagavatar withdrawing his recording of 'Evarani' when he
heard S.G.Kittao's rendition of that song. Mali joined this noble tribe
when he asked All India Radio not to broadcast some of his discs on the
plea of lack of standards ! A lofty deed in truth.
softness and exhilarating melody with crisp adherence to tala and identity
with sruti were the hallmark of his flute-play. Probably the world of art
lost much by his imponderable life.
MANI AYYAR MASTER
OF ROMANTIC MANODHARMA.............(October 25, 1912 - June 8, 1968)
He was 'manodharma;
improvisation personified; a perfect architect whose spirit of romanticism
and adventure carried his rendition to dizzy heights. His brikas sparkled
with subtle brakes, sudden flights and a 'happy amalgam of laya and manodharma'.
At the concerts of Mani Ayyar, the audience often got so absorbed in the
music that it was apt to forget the musician and the existence of accompanists.
That was a tribute to the power and energy, the perfect techniques and
effortless grace that featured his rendition. His life was a 'tapestry
of cerebral brilliance', his style touching the threshold of unorthodoxy.
At the concerts
of Mani Ayyar, the audience often got so absorbed in the music that it
was apt to forget the musician and the existence of accompanists.
That was a tribute to the power and enrgy, the perfect techniques and effortless
grace that featured his rendition. His life was a 'tapestry of cerebral
brilliance', his style touching the threshold of unorthodoxy. Madurai
Mani Ayyar offered a brimful of bhava... more aesthetic, more melodius,
more sensuous and caressing. The raga bhava stood out.. punctuated
with pregnant pauses.
was Mani Ayyar's virtue. One could notice during concerts his subconscious,
subsisting and ever alert care, anxiety and solicitude to the sruti emanating
from the tambur to ensure that it did not make the minutest detour, deviation
or sruti bhedam. Not infrequently one would witness the eminent artiste
taking over the tambur on his lap and engaged in mute, manasikha dialogue
white khadi, in tune with the white lotus of the Goddess of Music, Ayyar
was an incarnation of native culture, soft-spoken, simple in habits but
robust and mature in thought and speech. His engaging soft smile
and humility screened his innate genius, eminence, brilliance and the uniqueness
of his exposition of every branch of Carnatic music - raga, kriti,
neraval, swaram, etc. Mani Ayyar is no more but Mani Ayyar style
is still cherished. The absolutely fresh approach, romantic manodharma
and the tinge of adventure were all his own, his creation, monopoly and
asset. His unique, repetitive phrasing and waves of swaras were captivating
and they were part and parcel of his 'horse-gallop style well harnessed
and charmingly rendered.
Born at Madurai
of Ramaswamy Ayyar and Subbalakshmi Ammal, Mani Ayyar was the brother's
son of the melody king, Pushpavanam. It is not out of place to mention
that Pushpavanam was the select disciple of Ettayapuram Ramachandra Bhagavathar,
eminent vidwan and teacher. Made his debut at the age of twelve (1924)
at Alavakottai and then sang at Devakottai before the Saint of Kanchi,
the Paramacharya. Had the unique distinction of singing at the First Musical
Conference held along with the All India Congress Cmmittee Session in 1927
and receiving a medal. Then ensued hundreds of performances at all sabhas,
institutions, etc and to the last he drew admiration.
In 1943, he
was honoured with the title of 'Gana Kaladhara' by the Elite of Thanjavur
district. In 1959, he was conferred with the title of 'Sangita Kalanidhi'
by the Music Acadmey. In 1960, he was given the Sangita Natak Academy Award.
Poor health robbed the musical world of full contribution in his later
years. He had excellent rapport with his accompanists and the audience.
MANI AYYAR A COLOSSUS
AMONG PERCUSSIONISTS.............(June 12, 1912- May 29, 1981)
that was his original name, was born at Thiruvilvamalai of T.R.Sesham Bhagavathar
and Anantammal. He had his training with Chattapuram Subba Ayyar; K.S.Viswanatha
Ayyar of Kalpathi helped him with his 'lakshya' gnanam (knowledge). Viswanatha
Ayyar was accompanist in a musical discourse of Sivaramakrishna Bhagavathar.
His profound love for the boy made him call Mani, then not yet 10 years
old, to take his seat and play on. It was a great day for the prodigy.
When Yehudi Menuhin made his debut ar the age of seven, a critic wrote
:'This is not talent; This is genius'. It applies to Plaghat Mani too.
Then he began to accompany his father and Sivaramakrishna Bhagavathar till
Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar took him as acompanist for several of his
concerts, thus giving wide exposure to sit with renowned violinists like
Marungapuri Gopalakrishna Ayyar and Karur Chinnaswami Ayyar. The flute
maestro, Sanjeeva Rao provided him with many chances. Mani had his advanced
training under the renowned vidwan, Tanjore Vaidyanatha Ayyar.
A legend in
his lifetime, he is an all-time great, a genius at innovation and his scintillating
performances were the envy of all others and an unforgettable treat to
the audience. The melody, rhythm and the intricate, innovative play
were sought after greedily; and he was a crowd-puller. Torrential
succession of exhilarating 'Sangathis' and intricate astounding patterns
bristling with original innovations bringing out varied pleasing tones
and sounds revealed what a genius he was. Withot meaning disrespect
to any other, it may well be said that Palghat Mani Ayyar raised the status
of the mridangist and of mridangam to dizzy heights. Others may follow.
But he was the 'Gavaskar', the first and foremost
he was very simple in appearance, habits and living. An artiste of
few words, he would be there on the concert stage all attention to the
vocalist or violinist, with few movements - a picture of pristine dignity
and composure. It was proposed to honour him with the title of 'Abhinava
Nandikeswar' at Tiruvarur. He declined to receive it on the ground that
the guru who shaped him to the status he enjoyed had been omitted to be
honoured likewise. His virtuous stand is to be noted.
- VOCALIST.............(b.February 2, 1930)
Lakshminarasimhachari and Marakathavalli, Mani hails from Kangeyanallur
in North Arcot district. She had her initial training with Jalatarangam
Venkataramanayya Chetti and Tiruparkadal Srinivasa Ayyangar at Vellore.
After completing SSLC, she joined Kalakshetra, when stalwarts like Tiger
Varadachariar (vocal) and Budalur Krishnamurti Sastrigal (Gottuvadyam)
were there. After getting 'Sangita Siromani' she had further training under
Sangitha Kalanidhi Mudikondan Venkatarama Ayyar in pallavi singing and
under Mysore Vasudevacharya in singing special compositions. She learnt
violin also. With scholarship from the Govt. of India, she continued her
advanced training under Sangita Kalanidhis T.K.Jayarama Ayyar and Musiri
Subramanya Ayyar. Mani Krishnaswami claims that she is the most authentic
performer of the 'Musiri' school with emphasis on bhava singing. She has
specialised in 'laya' also. A versatile musician with a graceful voice
and a balanced style, Mani Krishnaswami is a traditionalist in singing.
She is an 'A' class artiste with the AIR.
Saraswati from Narasapuram (AP) in 1973
Praveena from Desika Karsana Sabha, Chennai in 1974
from Krishna Gana Sabha in 1979
at the Tirupathi Devasthanams in 1980
Laya Sangita in 1987
Nataka Academy Award in 1987
Chakravarthini from Calcutta Fine Arts in 1989
Sangita Kalanidi from Music Academy
Padma Shri in 2002