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
VISWANTHA NARAYANASWAMY - VOCALIST.............(b.November 11, 1923)
comes of a family of traditional musicians of Palghat in Kerala. He had
his early training under his grandfather, Narayana Bhagavathar, father
Viswanatha Bhagavathar, Palghat Mani Ayyar, C.S.Krishna Iyer and Papa Venkatramiah.
Later, he had rigorous training under the tutelage of the maestro, Ariyakudi
Ramanuja Ayyengar in the gurukula system of learning from 1942. His grandfather
and great grandfather Viswam Bhagavathar and Nanu Bhagavathar were Krishna
Attam artistes. Viswam had been honoured by Maharaja Ayilyam Tirunal.
is an outstanding vocalist. Word, melody and rhythm fuse smoothly and beautifully
in the style of music he has evolved for himself, after assimilating the
well-known and much admired style of his teacher, Ariyakudi. The genuine
emotion with which he sings the compositions of the masters makes him one
of their best interpreters. His excellence in raga alapana and technical
decoration is studied and thoroughly satisfying. His intelligent usage
of the voice heightens its sweetness, clarity and sruthi-unision. He has
great respect to the mridangam maestro, Sangita Kalanidhi Palghat Mani
Ayyar who shaped his career and to the Master of concerts, Sangita Kalanidhi
Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar. Made his debut at the Tyagaraja Aradhana,
Tiruvaiyaru in 1940 and sang in 1947 at the Madras Music Academy. Sang
in 1956 at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Delhi.
is noted for his remarkable tonal and sruthi sensitivity and balancing
his selections from among weighty and light ragas, compositions and even
languages. He is able to generate a spiritual atmosphere in the concert
hall while presenting devotional pieces emphasising and drawing out the
emotional appeal of each. He is a genuine devotee of classicism born out
of a long period of faithful apprenticeship under a great master. K.V.Narayanaswamy
has had rich and varied practice and experience in India and abroad. His
eminent standing has been utilised indifferent spheres. He has received
praise and various honours from different directions :
Sangita Natak Academy Award in 1970
by Bharati Society of America in 1975
by the President of India in 1976
Academy Award, New Delhi in 1977
the Sangeetha Peeth, Bombay in 1978
Kala Nipuna by Mylapore Fine Arts Club in 1982
by Tulaseevana Sangeetha Parishad, Trivandrum in 1983
by Bairavi Indian Fine Arts Society, USA in 1985
Pittsburgh, Cleveland in 1985
by Music Academy, Madras in 1986
Kala Sikhamani by Indian Fine Arts Society, Madras in 1989
carries on the Ariyakudi style and is a respected top vocalist.
KALANIDHI K.S.NARAYANASWAMI AYYAR - VEENA MAESTRO.............(b. Sep 27,
Born at Koduvayur
near Palghat of Koduvayur Sivarama Ayyar and Narayani Ammal he had his
musical training under his brother K.S.Krishna Ayyar from his 7th year
to 14th year. He joined the first batch of students of the Music College,
Annamalai Univeristy and studied under the stalwarts T.S.Sabhesa Ayyar
and Ponniah Pillai, Desamangalam Subramania Ayyar in veena and Ponniah
Pillai in mridangam.
Award in 1962
State Award in 1968
Academy Award in 1968
Award in 1977
from the Music Academy, Madras 1979
Ayyar is a symbol of the confluence of the cultural traditions of
Kerala, TamilNadu and Maharashtra. His disciples include Dr.V.K.Narayana
Menon and Dr.(Prof.)M.S.Subbulakshmi.
S.SUBRAMANIA PILLAI & S.NATARAJASUNDARAM PILLAI - NAGASWARAM DUO
Pillai born on January 1, 1895 and his younger brother, Natarajasundaram
born on March 21, 1900 were sons of A.R.Swaminatha Pillai and Sivabaghyam
Ammal. The elder lived upto a ripe age (June 4, 1984). They had their training
in music under Swaminatha Pillai and the illustrious vidwan, Vaidyanatha
Ayyar of Konerirajapuram, which lies closeby. The brothers were the best
accredited and most famous duo in nagaswaram for several decades, respected
for their melodius and classical play. Were noted for their rich repertoire
of songs and fascinating rendition of kritis and swara. It was a period
of stalwarts like T.N.Rajarathnam, P.S.Veeruswamy Pillai and Tiruvenkadu
Subramania Pillai. The duo of Tiruvizhimalai were responsible for raising
the dignity of nagaswaram artistes and were the first secretaries of Tyaga
Brahma Sabha, Tiruvaiyaru from 1933, a tribute to their eminent stature
Pillai was the recipient of honours like :
Academy Award in 1962
from Music Academy, Madras in 1957
Sikhamani in 1972
Kalaignar in 1980
NATESAN - NAGASWARAM WIZARD.............(circ.1900)
Gopalakrishna Ayyar has referred to an incident that took place in the
house of the son of Sri.T.Muthuswamy Ayyar, the first Indian High Court
Judge. Vidwan Sarabha Sastrigal had just given a captivating flute performance.
The blind maestro was informed that Tirumarugal Natesan had been listening.
Sarabha called and pressed him to play on nagaswaram and Natesan complied.
He elaborated raga 'kedaragaula', earlier handled by Sarabha. The
flute maestro was thrilled by the grandeur of conception, flights of imagination
and heights of subtlety and said, "I wanted to go to Chidambaram, but through
your Nada, I have now had a vision of Nataraja (or Natesa), the cosmic
Dancer here itself". Natesan overwhelmed by the maestro's praise, prostrated
before the master and got his blessings. Natesan was a super artiste known
for his scintillating performances, sweetness of sound and arresting style.
Was born at
Tirumarugal in a family of nagaswaram players. Natesan attained dizzy heights
in the field of music with is matchless artistry, meticulous adherence
to tradition, divine melody that flowed out of his nagaswaram and the superlative
imaginative play. He touched the hearts of man and animal. Ragas like
Kanada, Atana and Sahana found their aesthetic delineation and brilliant
elaboration at his hands. At the festival of Chennakesava Perumal temple
at Madras, Natesan and Ramaswamy of Semabanarkoil, another player of repute
were presented with golden nagaswarams in appreciation.
at the pinnacle of achievement, fame and glory and was under 25 when the
world lost him. Sarabha Sastri, the divine flautist too died at the age
of 32. Probably, celestial greats in each field like Sankara, Vivekananda,
Alexander, Sarabha and Natesa are not to shed their radiance and fragrance
more in a single planet. He respected age and great artistes. He admired
Sarabha Sastri as his chosen God. What Sarabha elaborated in Kamboji in
the evening, Natesan repeated it in extenso at night; Sarabha called him
"Eka Santha Grahi" - one who masters on a single hearing.
SIVAN - COMPOSER.....................................(1839-1900)
Musiri Subramania Ayyar and Semmangudi Dr.R.Srinivasa Ayyar chose the best
of the pieces of Nilakanta Sivan:
Siva Krupai Varumo' - Mukhari
tharum perumal' - Khamas
petralum' - Karaharapriya
disc recordings decades back and they could not have chosen better songs
for the excellence of composition, sublimity of the content and message,
marvellous scope for raga elaboration and spiritual appeal to the intellectual
and the lay public. The grandeur of conception, the inspired divine
ecstacy revealed in them, the mastery in the art of composition and the
felicity of expression have rendered the songs of Nilakanta Sivan highly
popular. 'Ananda nadanamaduvar' - (Poorvikalyani), 'Sambo Mahadeva'
- (Bhoopalam), etc. are the envy of composers. About 1500 verses
in 150 padigams mainly in Khamas, Kambhoji, Mukhari and Surati are all
to guide the people to spiritual revelation and Divine presence.
He conveys the message of the seers of India that 'true knowledge, pure
devotion, absolute surrender and strict adherence to the spiritual, religious,
moral values make life richer.' His output and outpourings were colossal.
he assumed the name of 'Nilakanta Dasan' after the name of the Deity of
Born at Padmanabhapuram
in Kanyakumari district, called 'Subramanya' in younger days, Nilakanta
Sivan was a precocious child whose sharp intellect and composing talents
were noticeable early. he led bhajan ghoshtis (parties) and for fifteen
years was a village magistrate. he resigned when he was asked to
cook up evidence in a case. His agonising reaction is reflected in
the song 'Ennavidam Pizhaipom' - (Mukhari), wherin he laments:
'Days of fences
guarding crops had gone,
of fences eating the crops had vanished.
Now the fence
has started eating even the earth.
Time has entered
on evil days.
He had no practical
training in music. Mysticism and erudition innate in him probably
got released after his contacts with Kodaganallur Sundaraswamigal.
He was giving musical discourses also.
of Travancore and Cochin and the Rajahs of Ramnad and Pudukottai honoured
him. like Muthuswami Dikshitar, he is credited with bringing rains
by invoking God. he anticipated his death and breathed his last at
Trivandrum amidst bhajans. Sangita Kalanidhi Papanasam Sivan was
his disciple and no wonder the two Sivans have been beacon-lights in Carnatic
music with their immortal compositions in Tamil which have been the delight
of the musician and the music-lover.