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
BALACHANDER - A MAGNIFICIENT CLASSICIST.............(January 18, 1927-April
Balachander was the most colourful personality among Classical Carnatic
artistes, an enlightened interpreter of Indian music and a multi-dimensional
personality of vast parts, deep penetration and quick conception with few
peers. He was
string artiste, mock dancer, singer, poet, man of letters, humourist, album
collector, cine actor, playback singer, music composer, director, photographer,
chess player, art addict and above all a firm believer in the sacredness
himself had recorded:
IS A SACRAMENT TO ME AND
MUSIC IS TOTALLY DEDICATED TO GOD.'
evolved his own style of playing veena which was close to vocal rendition
described as gayaki style. He strode like colossus among musicians,
music-lovers and others and he was an agnostic to criticism. An expert
publicist, he never stopped to gain personal ends. That marks him
out of the rest. He consciously placed himself on an elevated pedestal.
That never prevented him from appreciating the good in others. Masculine
assertiveness was part of his innate self and he departed at the pinnacle
of his artistic expression, musical wisdom and technical wizardry.
was a master of manipulation of the veena in vicranti or breath-taking
speed with intensive and unusual gamakas of absolute virtuosity.
His varied life is a leson to apprentices in dedication to and mastery
in art. Whatever he touched was gold absolute. He dwarfed others
by the unique personality and image he acquired. Veena was a humble
instrument at his hands and his will prevailed always or was executed.
of Rao Saheb Vaidyanatha Ayyar, author of popular works on Audit, Accounts
and Book-keeping and son of V.Sundaram Ayyar and Parvati alias Chellammal,
Balachander was born at Madras in a home which pulsated, buzzed and buzzled
with music and musicians. Father, an advocate who forsook law, was
a connoisseur and patron of music. Brother S.Rajam (b.1919) is a
brilliant exponent of classical music. Two sisters - Jayalakshmi
and Saraswati were good singers. Instead of litigants, musicians
thronged his house and in this congenial environment of melody, young Balachander
grew thirting for acquisition of musicianship and advent He wrote:
having had a 'Guru' and (by the bountiful grace of God) being entirely
self-taught, I wish to acknowledge that the music of certain sangeetha
vidwans had tremendously inspired and influenced me..."
musical personality grew like the wild 'Tulasi' plant (sacred basil) in
the classical music garden of cultured Mylapore with its magnificient temple,
attractive tank, broad Madda streets and cultured habitation with his 'Nadu
street' at the centre. The temple tower beckoned him to rise up to
its height and the tank laid bare the depths of knowledge he could make
his own. The broad streets drew his mind to the message of Tyagaraja
in 'Chakkani Rajamarga'. Musical precocity was evident when
he began playing on kanjira providing accompaniment to top artistes of
the day. Started playing on harmonium, bulbul tara, tarshenai, dilruba,
mridangam and tabla.
(18) and Balachander (10) gave duet concerts all over India and Sri Lanka
under the name 'Prabhat Prodigy Stars' and 'South Indian Prodigies'.
Like Lav & Kush, the two fair beautiful and talented boys were the
rage of the day and cynosure of all eyes. When Santaram, the eminent
film director, presented him with a tabla, Balachander was a percussionist
already. But when Krishna Bai presented him with an old sitar on
January 16, 1938 at Karachi, it acted as a catalyser taking him to a different
mould from percussion to string, rhythm to melody and accompanist to soloist.
At eighteen, he switched over to veena and there ensued a durable, spiritual
association. He was a yogi who had scaled the magnificient heights
of sadhana on veena. He had great respect for Karaikudi Sambasiva
Ayyar. Quite soon, he evolved and reached the zenith of his own -
the Balachander style. He could not stoop to play for the gallery.
it looked as if he was a divine messenger deputed to lay down norms for
play and concerts and a code of conduct for artistes. His was pure
classical play bringing out the exhilarating panorama and depth of raga
swaroopas on veena. Like Ekalavya and Sarabha Sastri, he assimilated
the best and built his own musical edifices thereon. Environment,
observation and assimilation (without regular tuitions) probably qualified
him for unique experimentation and adventure in quest of the unexplored
frontiers of melody and classical virtuosity. He averred:
have no 'guru' but God and
music-making is an act of piety."
have been precocious children but many a budding flower tends to fade out
disappear. But perennial, fresh and fresher showers descended on
this intellectual. Whatever he touched was grand, bold and unique.
made his debut at the 'Model Hall', Mylapre as a vainika with Tiruvalangadu
Sundaresa Ayyar and Ramnad Easwaran on violin and mridangam respectively.
There was no occassion for the glittering artiste to look back till the
Lord beckoned him at Bhilai. His concert orientation was to provide
the audience what he thought they needed or should be given. His
approach was that of a father, teacher, doctor and law-giver - all in one
and one can easily trace the inspiration for the dictum expounded by him
and extracted below to his staunch belief that 'music was a sacrement to
him and his music was totally dedicated to God.
a large number like -
Natak Academy Award in 1977
by World Academy of Arts & Culture, Tirupati
SASTRIGAL - HARIKATHA(MUSICAL DISCOURSE).............(b.18 August 1918)
ability for attractive presentation and knowledge of epics were inherited
from Sambamurti Ganapatigal of Thiruvidaimarudur near Kumbakonam. Versatility
in languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kanarese and Sankrit was acquired while
young and developed further. Musical training was with Tiger Varadachariar
and Mudicondan Sabhapathi Ayyar.
professors of colleges liked him and, in fact, notwithstanding the acquisition
of all the above, the young man entered the service of the then Imperial
Bank of India with the help of Mc Nichol, his professor in the Madras Christian
College. The immense acquisition of knowledge in ancient lore, languages
and the background of story-telling were not lost in spite of time
bound, routine of work in the bank . Harikatha or musical discourse was
taken up in spare time but it grew into a mighty exercise as years rolled
devout anxious to hear the epics, the young and old to hear stories, ancedotes
and songs flocked to hear him. His brother, T.S.Vallisan, who had
undergone musical training and is a vocalist, gave him support as 'second'
in his discourses. The added attraction established the artiste
as one of the few top musical discourse artistes of the day for the last
several decades after the departure of the earlier batch comprising Mangudi
Chidambara Bhagavathar, etc.He has given discourses in English in the USA
'Sat Kathamrita Kalanidhi & Bharat Kesari - Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchipuram
Vyasa' - Sri Sankaracharya of Sringeri
Ratnakara - Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi & Sringeri
- Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram
Kala Sikhamani' - Indian Fine Arts Society
Sikhamani' - Sabhas of Bombay
Kala Praveena - Sadguru Sangita Samajam
- MUSICOLOGIST & PEDAGOGUE.............(b.May 12, 1926)
was born at Kunnamkulam, Kerala of S.V.Venkatachala Ayyar. He studied music
under M.R.Sankara Bhagavathar, his uncle and Ramakrishna Bhagavathar. At
the age of 10, he made his debut on the auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi.
Studied at and got the diploma of 'Sangita Vidwan' from the Central College
of Carnatic Music, Madras. He has given concerts and is more devoted to
teaching and research. Balakrishnan has undergone a course in 'Research
and Development of Musical Instruments' at the Sangita Vidyalaya, Madras,
has composed songs, presented research papers and conducted musical quiz
on the All India Radio. His disciples are well-placed.
Music Teacher 1952-56
in Musicology, Tamilnadu Govt. Music College, Madras from 1966 to 1984.
born on 6.7.1930 at Sankaraguptam in Andhra Pradesh of Pattabiramiah and
Suryakantam. He has made major contributions to the various fields of Classical
Carnatic music, light music and the silver screen. A child prodigy, he
learnt for a brief spell of six months from Parupalli Ramakrishnaiah Pantulu.
He made his debut at Vijayawada at the Aradhana of his guru's guru Susarla
Dakshinamurthy Sastri in 1938. His first radio concert was in 1939. Apart
from vocal music, he was also proficient in playing the viola, violin,
mridangam and kanjira.
had accompanied several great vocalists like Ariyakudi, Chembai, Maharajapuram
Santhanam, GNB and Parupalli on the violin. He has given Jugalbandhis and
solo vocals without accompanists. He has composed about 300 kritis, varnams,
tillanas, etc. Inspired by Swami Vimalananda of Kuttalam Mutt he has composed
72 songs in 72 melakarta ragas in sanskrit and Telugu. Murali is his mudra.
He has created new ragas and talas.
has toured several countries such as USA, Canada, France, Italy, Singapore,
USSR, Malaysia, SriLanka.. He has received numerous awards and titles,
a few of which are - "Presidential Medal" in 1953; "Padma Sri" in 1971
from the President; "Sangita Kalanidhi" in 1975 from the Music Academy,
Chennai; "Sur Singer" in 1975 from Sangeeth Peeth, Mumbai; Doctorate (Honoris
Causa) in 1975 from the Andhra University; "National Award for best music
director" in 1975; "Karnataka Award for best music director" in 1976; "National
Award for best male playback singer" in 1987; "Padma Vibushan" from the
President of India; "Sangita Kala Nipuna" in 1987 from the Mylapore Fine
Arts Society; "Sangita Kala Sikhamani in 1991 from the Indian Fine Arts
Society; "Gayaka Ratnam" in 1992 from Sri Swati Tirunal Sangeetha Sabha";
"Saptagiri Sangita Vidwanmani in 1992 from Tyagaraja Trust, Tirupati.
KALANIDHI G.N.BALASUBRAMANIAM Eminence
was festival in the Kapaleeswarar temple, Mylapore, Madras. The top artiste
to give the concert of the day did not turn up and the temple authorities
were in a quandry. They decided upon the substitute and proceeded to meet
G.V.Narayanaswamy Ayyar, Head Master, Hindu High School, Triplicane to
depute his young son, Balasubramaniam to take the concert. Narayanaswamy
Ayyar could not comprehend the request and was as confounded as Dasaratha
was when sage Viswamitra wanted him to depute his son Rama. The authorities
pointed out that Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar shot into fame only in similar
circumstances by ascending the dias when the senior Vidwan Madurai Pushpavanam
failed to turn up and had never an occassion to look back.
parallel thrilled the ear of the father. He acceded and the son gave the
concert, a memorable debut in which his guru Madurai Subramaniam and Pudukottai
Vakil K.Rajamani accompanied on violin and mridangam. Fame and glory crowned
G.N.Balasubramaniam quite soon even as the eastern sun in summer shoots
into the sky and spreads its floodlight with dynamic speed and no twilight.
Balasubramaniam was born on June 6, 1910 at Gudalur in Mayiladuthurai taluk.
He studied in the Wesley College while learning music under his father,
a disciple of Karur Chinnaswamy Ayyar and under Madurai Subramania Ayyar.
He obtained his B.A. (Hons.) in 1929.
as he was popularly known, was a top vocalist of repute in a period which
had seen fairly a large number of top-ranking musicians. His bracing, resonant
and impressive voice and his special style rich with brisk brikas and pleasing
delivery of kritis was a satisfying and thrilling experience to the vast
concourse of admirers. His unique style, regulated tempo and masterly delivery
were the delights of the audience. His melifluous voice would traverse
the three octaves and the three 'kalas' with ease. His brikas were infectious
and he kept his ears and mind open to receive what was best in other musicians.
He had high respect for Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar, the senior artiste
of eminence. He had a partiality for Todi, Kalyani and Kamboji and for
Andolika, Nalinakanti, Vasantabairavi, Jothiswarupini, etc. His disciple,
Trichur V.Ramachandran states that his master's style was essentially of
a madhyamakala which sustained the interest of the audience. His command
of ragalakshanas was amazing revealing the quintessence of the ragas at
the very outset. His singing was crisp and 'sangatis' measured.
was one of the prominent composers of recent decades. Out of his 250 compositions
in sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil in traditional and his own invented ragas
like Chandrahasita, Sivasakti, Amrita Behag, etc., sixty had been published.
A gentleman with humility as he was, he would not sing his own compositions
in concerts. His respect for values was prodigious. He would return the
nominal honoraria he got from the Music Academy as donation. A further
feature of his concerts was that he would review the performances of his
accompanists and his own. His joy would be immense at the excellence of
others. He had a soft heart for rising artistes. His anxiety to satisfy
the susceptibilities of the audience was immense.
as a boy, he had taken part in musical and dramatic activities in the Hindu
High School which he joined in the sixth standard. Later he took the lead
role of Dushyant in the famous Tamil film 'Sakuntala' in which another
great musician, M.S.Subbulakshmi was the heroine. He had played the role
of 'Narada' in the films Bhama Vijayam and Sathi Anasuya. Udayanan, Vasavadatha
is another film in which he had acted. He was also pleased with the rendition
of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan that he became an ardent devotee of Khan.