/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": "Ingeetham should come before Sangeetham” : Vidwan Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Ingeetham should come before Sangeetham” : Vidwan Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy

Those who have been following the annals of Parvathi would have asked in their minds, “What about KVN ? Did he not perform at Parvathi ?”

Well, as we delight our listeners with more and more fascinating concerts, we now come to KVN, as Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy is universally known.

April 23, 1970, "Parvathi", Mysore
Vidwans: KV Narayanaswamy (Vocal)- T.N. Krishnan (Violin)- Umayalpuram Sivaraman(Mridangam)- K.S. Manjunath (Ghatam)- H.P.Ramachar (Kanjira)

Who doesn't know KVN among the Carnatic music aficionados? Just three coordinates will do.

1. KVN is universally acclaimed to be the inheritor of the Ariyakudi legacy. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar was hailed as the crest jewel in Carnatic music (Sangeetha Shikhamani).

2. KVN enjoyed the admiration of many musical greats – let us just mention Pandit Ravi Shankar, Yehudi Menuhin and of course KVN's own guru Palghat Mani Iyer.

3. Rasikas who have a penchant for specific composers all claim that KVN's renditions are truest to their tradition... and most notable for this are the Travancore royal family and KVN's mastery over the compositions of Swati Tirunal.

KVN was born in 1923 into a musical family in Palghat. This chronicler knew him closely in the '80s. He heard directly from the master how he would be bribed with four annas just to practise music as a young boy. The same boy later would have great teachers: C. S. Krishna Iyer, Palghat Mani Iyer, Papa Venkataramiah, and Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. It was Palghat Mani Iyer who taught KVN how to actually “sing”- be it alapana, compositions, and swaras – the actual intonations, and the embellishments, without the rough edges and idiosyncrasies one normally finds in any busy performer. That is why you will find in KVN a perfect balance of everything, and no quirks like nasal twangs or too much gimmickry. He always remembered the words of Ariyakudi, that one should have immense understanding and common sense before musical sense. He would quote Thyagaraja, “Ingitham should come before Sangitham”. That is why all rasikas found in KVN the true expression of “mot juste”.

KVN was reverence personified when speaking of Ariyakudi, whom he called “Gurnathar”. In many interviews, he has spoken in a hushed awe about his Guru. It is a bit like Swami Vivekananda's relationship with Sri Ramakrishna. Once, when Swamiji was asked to speak about his master in America, with tears in his eyes he said that he could not do justice to the topic at all.

KVN used to sing a song in memory of his Guru, composed by T.S. Balakrishna Shastrigal. On the suggestion of the famous critic Subbudu, KVN had set it to a languid tala scale and a lovely ragamalika. He would pause with awe when he came to the words, “Nija-guru-pada-sevitha- shishya-vrindam”.

KVN spent time in Mysore with Ariyakudi, who was the guest of the Mysore Palace. This chronicler believes that was the time when Ariyakudi would sit on a swing in a veranda and enjoy the salubrious hospitality of the princely city. He would begin to compose the music for one of the songs in Andal Thiruppavai. KVN the scribe would write it down. And it would be finally polished into shape. Everyone follows the Ariyakudi tradition for singing Thiruppavai and you hear these lovely songs not only in concerts but also during the Margazhi season on AIR.

Once KVN sang a delightful composition in raga Ranjani. This chronicler asked him later whose composition it was. He said it was that of Mysore Ganapathi Sacchidananda Swamiji and KVN himself had set it to music.

KVN taught many university students in India and USA. He was for many years a professor at the Music Teacher's Training College in Madras. He also had many stints at the Wesleyan University in California.

Someone once mused, “what if KVN had a powerful resonant voice?” This chronicler replied that KVN's musical armamentarium is like a BMW or Mercedes engine. So much power would not suit a ceremonial golden chariot, known more for its glitter than as a conveyance. The chariot would hardly cope with performance of a BMW or Mercedes engine. That somewhat explains how KVN had honed his vocal equipment to produce perfect Carnatic music aligned to the resonance of a tambura. And consequently was the supreme vocalist in Carnatic music for many generations of rasikas. And both God and the gifted composers of Carnatic music listened to KVN in thrall.


An Assembly of the Giants in Tiruvayyaru![ Annaswamy Bhagavatar- Kumbhakonam Rajamanickam Pillai - Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar - Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer - Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar ]

“… you know I had such a lot of respect for KVN …. he performed so many times in our house “Parvathi”…sometimes with Lalgudi, sometimes with Parur (Gopalakrishnan) … sometimes with T.N.Krishnan … with Shivaraman … Ramabhadran …with Raghu … very, very chaste concerts … always a crowd favorite…”
“… but whenever his name comes up …somehow, immediately, Sri Ariyakudi’s (Ramanuja Iyengar ) name also crops up in me …you know when my father Shri K.Puttu Rao died in 1959, Shri Ramanuja Iyengar came all the way to “Parvathi” to extend his personal condolences … during one of my visits to Tiruvayyaru for the Thyagaraja Utsavam, I attended a concert of Dhanammal sitting next to Ariyakudi, and Ariyakudi was so very happy about it”
“... you know there is also that time in 1963 …when a public function was arranged in Rajaji Hall in Madras to honor Sri Ariyakudi as architect of our modern Carnatic music … now in this connection, one fine morning, KV Narayanaswamy shows up in “Parvathi”… and guess who he has brought along with him? Sriyuts Madurai Krishnan and Rajam Iyer … now they all want His Highness Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar to preside … so they wanted my help … how could I say “No” ?... I arranged for an interview through the Durbar Bakshi of the Palace … and they were all very happy when the Maharajah gladly agreed … I remember the commemoration committee was chaired by Justice P.V. Rajamannar ... they also included my name in their committee … overall it was a very grand function… the Maharaja had earlier conferred the honorific 'Gayaka Shikhamani' on Shri Ariyakudi ..."
K. V. Narayanaswamy -----Vocal
T.N Krishnan ------- Violin
Umayalpuram Sivaraman ------Mridangam
K.S.Manjunath -----Ghatam
Performed on 26-3-1972

[ 1. Era napai–Todi varnam–Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer 2.Evarani–Devamrutavarshini-Thyagaraja 3.Ninne nera nammi naanu raa-Pantuvarali–Thyagaraja 4.Enta rani–Hari kambhoji–Thyagaraja 5.Ora jupu–Kannada Gowla–Thyagaraja 6. Manasu Swadhina–Shankarabharana–Thyagaraja 7. Brochevarevarura–Khamach–Mysore Vasudevachar 8. Janaati Rama–Shloka Ragamalika–Traditional 9. Thiruppavai–Sindhu Bhairavi–Andal 10. Tillana–Paras–Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar 11. Mangalam ]

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