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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Maestro : T. Chowdiah ( " Pakkavadhya Chakravarthy" )

The great violinist T. Chowdiah (1895 ~ 1967) stands as a resplendent star in the galaxy of eminent musicians and composers who formed the nucleus of Carnatic music during its heyday in Southern India. One could fix a commencement for this heyday as 1895, the year in which Chowdiah himself was born or refer to it as the year of birth of the grand-sire of Carnatic vocalists, Chembai Vaidyanath Bhagvathar. Either way we could we could frame the very same words on Chowdiah that the music critic 'Aeolus' [Shankar's Weekly 1963 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chembai] used for the Bhagvathar "as a musician who has meant the most to Carnatic Music in the first fifty years of the 20th century”.

Not only did the eminent Chowdiah combine supremely with the eminent Bhagvathar but also perhaps with anyone else who rose into the great semblance of music maestros from those elixir years.

"During the last half a century Chowdiah was a compelling and dominating violinist, much sought after by musicians of repute. His playing on the violin is equalled by few and surpassed by none"
- Musiri Subrahmanya Iyer

Chowdiah was, at those times, the lone figure that loomed huge (no pun intended) from the princely state of Karnataka, whose great kings, the Wodeyars, proved to be the great benefactor’s to India’s art and culture, not just to those who belonged to the southern tract of the country but also to people like Swami Vivekananda who sought to spread the wisdom of the Hindu spirit in foreign destiny’s. It was also a time when the great coterie of musicians, whom Chowdiah accompanied as a violinist, all seemed to emanate abundantly from anywhere but Mysore and mostly from the states of Tamilnadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

Not withstanding his own brilliance and not withstanding the genius of any of the musicians whom he accompanied during his lifetime, Chowdiah seemed, however, to loom larger than life following his own demise.