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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thyagaraja, The Saint Composer

Vid. Maharajapuram Santhanam – 1972 Ramanavami

Text by R. Sachi

We are happy to share with rasikas this concert from 1972 as a part of our Season’s greetings and best wishes for the New Year 2014. This season is auspicious for Hindus and Christians alike, being a period of prayer and holy celebration. The Margashirsha masa (Margazhi in Tamil) is considered the best month in the Hindu calendar as it instils a mood of prayer and tranquility.

In this concert, Vid. Santhanam has sung a wonderful composition of the saint composer Thyagaraja in Yadukula Kambhoji, a raga most suited to prayer. In the song (part of Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam), Thyagaraja describes his utter anguish at his separation from Lord Rama. His feelings are very similar to those of anguish in the voices of mystics Meera, Andal and Chaitanya. We give below the lyric and translation from The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja (pub. Ramakrishna Math, Chennai)

Concert Details

Ramanavami Concert 1972, Parvathi Mysore, held on 28-3 1972

Vid. Maharajapuram Santhanamm – Vocal
Vid. M.Chandrasekaran ----- violin
Vid. Palghat Raghu ------ Mridangam
Vid. Vikku Vinayakram ------Ghatam.

Song List

01-Gananathaya-Gowla-Ambi Dikshitar*** 02-Telisirama-Purnachandrika-Thyagaraja*** 03-Banturiti-Hamsanadam-Thyagaraja*** 04-Unde Yedi-Harikambhoji-Thyagaraja*** 05-Mohanam-Alapana*** 06-Mohanarama-Mohana-Thyagaraja*** 07-Chelimini Jalajakshu Kante-Yedukulakambhoji-Thyagaraja*** 08-Kandukandu-Mohana-Purandaradasa*** 09-Yochana-Darbar-Thyagaraja*** 10-Ammaravamma-Kalyani*** 11-Sarangamarugane-Ragamalika-Veeramani***

Friday, December 13, 2013

Torchbearer of a Bani and a Role-model

Sangitha Kalanidhi Designate Vid. Sudha Raghunathan

A Review from R. Sachi

We are extremely happy to offer our felicitations and best wishes to this year’s Sangitha Kalanidhi designate Vid. Sudha Raghunathan.

A busy year indeed for Vid. Sudha Raghunathan has culminated in the famed award being announced by the Madras Music Academy for 2013. It has been a splendid journey for the lady musician since the 1970’s under her tutelage with Dr. M. L. Vasanthakumari. She has been hailed as the torchbearer of the famous MLV Bani.

We feature her concert from the 1989 Parvathi Ramanavami series. In his valedictory speech (audio featured below), Sri. K. Srikantiah hails her as a worthy successor to Dr. MLV and predicts a very bright future for her. Vid. Sudha’s music has stayed at the top of the charts all these years, garnering honors year after year.

We are also happy to feature excerpts from her interview by Lakshmi Devanath, published recently in the Hindu (click the link for the full interview):

“I dedicate this award to my Mata, Pita, Guru and Devah. They made it happen,” says Sudha. Sudha’s mother Choodamani was a trained musician blessed with a strikingly beautiful voice. Circumstances stood in the way of her becoming a professional, but the tenacious lady moulded her unfulfilled aspirations into a dream that she dreamt for her second daughter, Sudha. The way the three-year-old repeated Sai bhajans after her was enough and more indication of the child’s inherent musicality. Choodamani willed to hone that talent and entreated the Supreme Grace of Sai.

Choodamani put Sudha under the tutelage of vidwan T.V. Viswanathan and later under vidwan B.V. Lakshman. With impressive perspicacity, she decided that participation in music competitions would benefit her daughter hugely. She enrolled Sudha in every possible competition and zealously sourced teachers who would teach her daughter the stipulated songs.

The decisive turn happened, however, with Sudha winning the Central Government Scholarship for music in 1977 and subsequently, MLV’s consent to teach her.

(Courtesy : ICARC Inc)

Commenting on that crucial period in her life Sudha says, “Realising that I wasn’t in control of what was happening, I took a crucial decision - to make it big, irrespective of what I did.” This fire in her set the pace of her career graph.

“I have no time for formal teaching. You have to be sharp and grasp whatever you can when I sing.” MLV was very matter of fact in her approach. Sudha just strummed the tambura in her Guru’s performances for a year, before she graduated to being her second voice. She found the experience of sharing the stage with her teacher inestimable. Every concert was worth its weight in gold. MLV’s legendary flights of imagination as she explored ragas, her intellectually-stimulating swara matrices, her brilliant RTPs …Sudha had the privilege of being exposed to them all at close quarters. Returning home, she would mull over MLV amma’s music, listen to her recordings, sit with the notations and go back the next day fully equipped for yet another enthralling session. During her musical interactions with MLV, Sudha would always be on tenterhooks, for MLV was not given to open praise. The first telling indication of her assessment of Sudha’s capabilities happened in the early 1980s after a concert of MLV in New York. The students of Stony Brook University, who had come for the concert, requested MLV that Sudha give a solo performance at their school. MLV not only graciously agreed but also spontaneously requested her accompanists Kanyakumari and Mannargudi Easwaran to join Sudha in the concert.

The Sangita Kalanidhi award (being conferred in this Dec. season by the Music Academy on her) is an important milestone in Sudha’s career. She is overwhelmed by gratitude. “I look upon this award as an opportunity for me to thank all those who have stood by me - my family, my accompanists, my rasikas, music organisations and the press.” Even as she says this her thoughts go back to her dedication.

“I have talked about the role of my mother, father and guru. In the final reckoning they are all different manifestations of God, Sai Baba, as I recognise him. It was He who named me Sudha. I sat on His lap as a child and twirled His hair in innocent frolic. He did my aksharabhyasam, my formal initiation into the world of education. The first song that I sang was a Sai Bhajan…”

Concert Details

Parvathi Ramanavami concert held at Jaganmohan Palace on 23 April 1989.
Vid. Sudha Raghunathan – Vocal
Vid. Lalgudi Rajalakshmi – Violin
Vid. Chandramouli – Mridangam

Song List

01 Vanajakshi Varna-Kalyani- Poochi Srinivasa Iyenger *** 02 Sri Mahaganapatim- Athana-Jayachamaraja Wodeyar *** 03 Shobillu saptaswara -Jaganmohini- Thyagaraja *** 04 Marugelara Jayanthashri – Thyagaraja *** 05 Raghuvara – Kamavardhini –Thyagaraja *** 06 Shankarabharana Raga*** 07 Yeduta nilachite –Thyagaraja *** 08 Rama Rama –Vasantha -Purandara Dasa *** 09 Narayana ninna - Shudda dhanyasi – Puranadara Dasa *** 10 Shanmukhapriya Raga*** 11 Marivere dikkevarayya - Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer-Tani*** 12 speech by Sri K. Srikantiah *** 13 Rama Rama- Tilang – Purandara Dasa***

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Lalgudi wave continues

As our tribute to the continuing Lalgudi legacy, we bring you a full-fledged concert from the Ramanavami series of 1997.

( Courtesy: The Hindu )


Sri Ramanavami Festival 1997, Parvathi, Mysore
Concert held on 21-4- 1997.

Lalgudi Jayaraman-----Violin
GJR Krishnan---------Violin
Bangalore Venkatram-------Ghatam.

01 Varna- Lalgudi Jayaraman (Garudadhvani)***
02 Janaki Ramana- Thyagaraja (shuddha seemantini)***
03 Sri Narada – Thyagaraja (Kaanada) ***
04 Smaraneyonde salade- Purandara Dasa (Malayamaruta)***
05 Shanmugapriya Raga***
06 Mariveredikkevarayya-Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer ***
07 Enta muddu- Thyagaraja (Bindumalini)***
08 Lavanya Rama - Thyagaraja (Poornashadja)***
09 Kamboji Raga***
10 Sri Raghuvaraprameya - Thyagaraja***
11 Tani***
12 Rama Rama – Purandara Dasa (Tilang)***
13 Manasa Sancharare – Sadashiva Brahmendra (Sama)***
14 Tillana – Lalgudi Jayaraman(Bhimplas)***
15 Mangalam***

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Remembering Srimati Rajalakshmi L. Jayaraman

In one way or another the “hand of fate” seems to seal many a thing for us as human beings. It is the last drama of our lives.

We may hear about it from a William Shakespeare in his plays, we may hear of its millions of narratives through our own Hindu texts; but it inevitably does visit all of us. We are told that the ever compassionate Buddha himself asked of his disciples to drive home a point “Bring me three mustard seeds from a house where no one has deceased”.

We can only but respond to such situations through a collectivity and in the dignity and silence of prayers.

Mrs. Rajalakshmi Jayaraman, wife of one of the greatest of modern violinists Vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman, chose to follow her husband a week before last Monday night, Nov 18, 2013 soon after his own demise on April 22, 2013. A lady devoted to partnering her husband throughout, this path may have been the most inevitable one as scripted out by Nature.

Following the news, we hid our feelings behind a picture captured a few years earlier in the late couple’s home in Chennai

The news as we heard it from someone very alert in their postings on the popular forum Rasikas.Org came as a bit of a shocker.

We turned for some sentiments from Mysore Prabha to learn why:

"Ironically, the previous day, the Maestro’s children G.J. R. Krishnan and Viji had called us. Both of them spoke to me and Anna (Sri. K. Srikantiah). When we enquired about their mother, they said she was quite alright now. But Fate seems to have had other plans! They were in Mysore then, and had to rush back to Chennai. Unfortunately there was a flight delay and it was all over by the time they reached.

Uncle Jayaraman’s house was always so full of life and people; he, his wife, son, daughter-in-law, aged mother, and about 20 disciples each day. It is very hard on Krishnan and Viji now. There was once a Grandmother in their lives who passed away and now so soon with both the parents following each other. Anna spoke to Krishnan (for whom he has great affection) at length, and advised him on coping with life’s travails into the future…."

They say that behind the success of a man stands a lady of quiet resoluteness and support. We would just like to remember Srimati Rajalakshmi that very same way.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Multi-faceted Repertoire of Carnatic Music

Chowdiah Award for Vid. M. S. Sheela

A Retrospection by R. Sachi

We congratulate Vid. M. S. Sheela on receiving the Chowdiah Award from the Academy of Music Chowdiah Awards & Sri. K.K.Murthy Memorial Music Festival 2013. She is a very popular vocalist and has received many awards in the past, including the Ganakalashree. She has just returned from a triumphant concert tour in the north American continent.

(Photos courtesy The Hindu and Deccan Herald).

The multi-faceted repertoire of Carnatic music is something to marvel at. We have over 500 years of compositional reservoir, full of absolute gems composed by saints and scholars from several parts of India. These krithis as we call them abound in languages, styles, structural variations, moods and mythological, architectural and geographical references. This mind-boggling body of work is the mainstay of the Carnatic musician. Some accomplished vocalists regularly take up a wide range of krithis including rare ones in less-heard ragas and show great felicity of presentation. Vid. M.S. Sheela is one of the foremost of such exponents.

We feature, this time, Vid. M. S. Sheela’s concert - from the 2012 series of Sri. K. Putturao Memorial festival, held at Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore.

The concert covers a wide range of compositions from a wide variety of composers spanning a gamut of ragas. Vid. Sheela is accompanied by Vid. Narasimhamurthy, Vid. Ravishankar, and Shashishankar.

Concert Details

K. Putturao Memorial Music Festival, Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore held on 3 Sept. 2012

Vid. M. S. Sheela – Vocal
Vid. H. K. Narasimhamurthy- Violin
Vid. B. Ravishankar – Mridangam
Vid. B. Shashishankar – Ghatam

Song List

01 ChalamelaJesevura- Darbar Varnam- Tiruvottiyur Thyagayya *** 02 Sr iShankara Guruvaram- Nagaswaravali – Mahavaidyanatha Sivan *** 03 OrajoopujuChedi- KannadaGaula- Thyagaraja***04 Dhanyudevvado- Malayamaruta- Patnam Subramanya Iyer*** 05 MeenaLochani Amba- Todi- Harikeshanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar*** 06 Paraku Nee Kelara Rama- Kiranavali- Thyagaraja*** 07 Bhavanuta Na Hrudayamu- Mohana- Thyagaraja *** 08 Toredu Jeevisa bahude- Kiravani – Kanakadasa *** 09 Kamala Mukhiye- MohanaKalyani- Gopala Dasa*** 10 Taa taTadimi Taka- Brindavani- Purandaradasa ***

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our Tribute to a Doyen of the Harikatha World

Sant Bhadragiri Achyut Das

A Tribute by Mysore Prabha:

The doyen of Harikatha world, Sri Achyut Das, is no more. In his passing away, he has left a void probably never to be filled.

Harikatha is one of our ancient, traditional art forms, where philosophy and life values are taught to people in a musical form. My father, Sri. K. Srikantiah, time and again says, “one can with effort become a singer, a dramatist, an orator, a scholar, a humorist, a linguist. But only a combination of all these qualifications added to excellent memory can make a person a Harikatha Vidwan. Such is the depth and merit of our Harikatha Art.”

This dying art was kept alive thanks to a few scholars like Sri Achyut Das (1933-2013). His Harikathas would have flashes of Carnatic music, Hindustani music, abhangs, bhajans, humour, bhakti , satire, navarasas and worldly knowledge. No wonder it would reach out to a large number of people and attracted a huge fan-following. Sri Achyut Das performed in various languages like Kannada, Marathi, Konkani, Tamil, Telugu, etc. Listening to 3 hours of his Harikatha would be equivalent to reading 300 hours of various books. That was the sort of knowledge that a listener would gain!

Sri Achyut Das was a very close friend to my father, K.Srikantiah. His Harikatha performance was a regular fixture in our annual Sri Ramanavami Music Festival at Mysore for the past 40 years. His pleasant countenance, the kind,loving smile on his bright, graceful face, his friendly voice, will all be etched in our memories forever. He was a 'Sadhu' in the true sense of the word. Such was his affection for my father that he, himself, would call us around December-January, give a date for his performance for our on-coming festival in April, and then start off on his far-flung tours.

And on the day of his programme, without any prior intimation, he would be at the venue of the programme in Mysore promptly at 6 in the evening- be it from Bangalore, Hassan, Maharashtra, Andhra, or even a place as remote as Chambal Valley! He used to tour all over India in his well-equipped caravan-like orange coloured van. He always had a kind word, a blessing, an ncouragement to anyone and everyone who came to him. It was my privilege and honour that he released one of my audio cassettes, 'Haridasa Vani' in our Ramanavami pandal on 19th April 1986.

Sri Achyut Das has without doubt led a worthy life - touching a lot of lives with his discourses. It was our proud privilege to honour this saintly vidwan during our silver jubilee Ramanavami Festival at Mysore in the year 1994.

Our tribute to this great soul is in the form of presenting one of his Harikathas, "Seetha Kalyana" at Parvathi.

May his soul rest in peace.


Sant Bhadragiri Achyut Das - Harikatha ‘Seetha Kalyana'
on 19-4- 86 at "Parvathi" , Ramanavami Festival

01 Seetha Kalyana - Katha commencement*** 02 Seetha Kalyana - Rama Dhyana*** 03 Seetha Kalyana - Bhajana Shravana*** 04 Seetha Kalyana - Ma Nishaada*** 05 Seetha Kalyana - Sri Rama Janana*** 06 Seetha Kalyana - Vishwamitra-Rama Vanavasa*** 07 Seetha Kalyana - Ahalya Shapavimochana*** 08 Seetha Kalyana - Shiva Dhanurbhanga*** 09 Seetha Kalyana - Seetha Swayamvara*** 10 Seetha Kalyana -Mangalam***

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Master class in Carnatic Vocal Music

Prof. T.R. Subramaniam, Parvathi 1972

A Tribute by R. Sachi

Through sharing this concert with rasikas worldwide, we offer our respectful remembrance of the late Prof. T.R. Subramaniam (1929-2013). Over the years, Prof. TRS came and performed many times in Parvathi.

(Photo from one of several TRS concerts in Parvathi)

While we were reading the various tributes and obituaries on his recent passing away, and preparing this upload, the title for this posting suggested itself. You have here a master class in how to sing a great Carnatic vocal concert. A master class from a vidwan who was always a student and a teacher, one who earned a devoted following among rasikas, fellow artistes and students for several decades.

We quote Vid. Chitraveena Ravikiran on Prof. TRS:

" Few people have brought to the Indian music field as much innovative spirit, intellectual merit and more than all these, a positive attitude as Prof T R Subramaniam has done for several decades. His story reveals that he has not only done different things but also done things with a difference. Right from the beginning, he carved a special path for himself, one that several others are following today.

Prof TRS has made wonderful use of the gifts he possessed – an analytical and objective brain, exposure to several great styles, creativity and strong laya sense. He combined these to create a style of his own that wafted into the music field in a refreshing manner. It goes without saying that his approach and all too well known musicianship have accorded him a great status today "

Prof. TRS was active even on the last day, teaching in the Music Academy (4 Oct., 2013). For many decades, he had been a music professor in Vijayawada College, later Delhi University , finally settling down in Chennai where he set up the Music Education Trust to implement his ideas of creative musical exploration and developmental pedagogy. His Lec-dems on RTPs and other subjects are very well known and available through several DVDs.

Importantly, the concert opens uniquely, with three consecutive pieces offered as a tribute to Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar (MD), youngest of the trinity and often cited as the most accomplished vaggeyakara in Carnatic music. The first one is MD’s Malahari krithi in praise of Ganesha, then follows a rarely heard MD composition in Hindola in praise of Saraswathi; the third being a tribute by the famous Tanjavur Quartet in raga Purvi Kalyani to their incomparable guru, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar.

Then there comes a another major item to cherish- the Abhogi exposition and the krithi Nikeppudu daya by Mysore Sadasiva Rao.

Prof. TRS is well known to be masterly in rendering Kannada compositions, especially rare Dasarapadas, with impeccable diction and with his own original musical score. In this concert he has sung a Purandaradasa krithi, in which the saint composer is himself giving a master class in how a musical concert should be!
tāḷa bēku takka mēḷa bēku

Ollē vēḷe bēku gāna kēḷabēkembuvarige

gaḷa śuddavirabēku tiḷidu pēḷabēku
kaḷavaḷa biḍabēku kaḷe mogavirabēku

yatiprāsavirabēku gatige nillisabēku
rati pati pitanoḷu ati prēmavirabēku

aritavarirabēku haruṣa heccalubēku (sabheyalli)
purandara viṭhalanalli sthira bhakti irabēku

Here is a free –style translation:

For a great musical experience, there should be “Tala” and appropriate accompaniment. One should find a quiet time (without hurry!). The lyrics should have poetic graces like Yati and Prasa (alliteration, rhyme); and the right tempo and time sense. Both the musicians and the listeners should harbour great love for the Lord (Vishnu=Ratipatipita). The singer should sing with a clear voice and be knowledgeable (like Prof. TRS!) He should cast aside worldly cares, and have a happy countenance. The listeners should be knowledgeable too (both musically and spiritually). The concert should spread joy all round. And one should have firm devotion to the supreme Lord, Purandara Vitthala.

After singing this beautiful song in Sriranjani, Prof. TRS takes up Mohana and later the Natabhairavi RTP, both highly cherishabe renditions. The concert concludes with some lovely Kanakadasa and Purandaradasa compositions and a Lalgudi tillana. Throughout the concert Prof. TRS motivates the accompanists to give of their best.

So dear rasikas, come, let us sit in the master class of Prof. T.R. Subramaniam and listen to some divine music.

Concert Details

Vid. T.R. Subramaniam ------------ Vocal
Vid. V.Sethuramiah ------------------ Violin
Vid. Tanjore Upendran ------------- Mridangam
Vid. ??? ---------------------------------Khanjira

on 2 April 1972 at " Parvathi " during Ramanavami.

Song List

01-Panchamathanga-Malahari- Muthuswami Dikshitar*** 02-Saraswathividiyuvathi-Hindola-Muthuswami Dikshitar*** 03-Satileni-Purvikalyani-Tanjavur Quartet*** 04. Nikeppudu daya – Abhogi – Mysore Sadasiva Rao *** 05-Varanarada-Vijayashree-Thyagaraja*** 05a-Talabeku-Sriranjani-Purandaradasa*** 06-Mohanarama-Mohana*** 07-Yarukkum Adangada Nilli-Begada-Muthiah Bhagavatar*** 08-Thathwameruga-Garudadhwani-Thyagaraja*** 09-RTP-Natabhairavi (+Ganamurthi )*** 10-Haribhaktisara stanzas-Behag, Valachi- Kanakadasa*** 10a-Vasudevana nenedu - Valachi-Purandaradasa*** 11-Tillana-Bageshri- Lalgudi Jayaraman***

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Charge of the Youth Brigade

Vid. Sanjay Subrahmanyan
1993 Ramanavami Concert, Parvathi, Mysore

Narration by R. Sachi

They say nature abhors a vacuum. There’s proof for this statement in Carnatic music. Just as the great doyens of the 1930’s-1950’s were winding up their act on Planet Earth, God decided to bring forth a new brigade of Carnatic stars. Between 1965-1975 (arbitrary dates), a number of future Carnatic stars were born, in different parts of India, all to converge towards great teachers of Carnatic music, hone their skills with great perspicacity, and climb on to the concert stage early and attraction attention.

This youth brigade have gone on to prime time slots in all major Vizhas and festivals. They have forayed into film music to garner Oscar nominations. They are beginning to win the Sangeetha Kalanidhi titles ahead of much older musicians. They have inspired alternative film makers. They have gone and performed in war-ravaged Sri Lanka. They criss-cross the globe, publishing their “Fall” and “Spring” tours on websites and microblogs. They explore multi-lingual repertoire. They enthusiastically feature in CM-HM_Jazz jugalbandis. They sing four-plus hour RTP concerts. In other words, they drive home the point that all’s well in Carnatic music.

A leader of this “who’s who” youth brigade is Vid. Sanjay Subrahmanyan. Mr. K. Srikantiah recognized his talent early and is highly impressed by Sanjay's style of singing, with his depth of classicism and brisk flow of creativity. Sanjay has sung 3-4 times during Parvathi Ramanavami celebrations. Mr. Srikantiah still remembers the 'Sahana' which he has sung in the 1993 concert we feature here.

[ Courtesy: The Hindu ]

In a recent profile, the Sruti magazine states that Sanjay was first sent to learn the violin from Vid. V. Lakshminarayana, at the age of seven. A bicycle accident and a broken wrist later, he took up vocal music. Thereafter, his grandaunt, Rukmini Rajagopalan (student of Parur Sundaram Iyer and Papanasam Sivan) shepherded and nurtured him. He later came under the dynamic guidance of the renowned musician-teacher Calcutta K.S. Krishnamurthi, who stoked Sanjay’s creative urges and groomed him to become the kind of free spirited performer he is today.

Sruti also states that interestingly, Sanjay never had the experience of a traditional gurukulam (and the resulting pathantharam or style imbibed during such an experience) for any prolonged period of time. By his own admission, he was drawn to the music of some of the most legendary musicians of earlier generations. One can sense the influences in his music – G.N. Balasubramaniam, Madurai Mani Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M.D. Ramanathan, Ramnad Krishnan, S. Kalyanaraman, and at times, even T.N. Seshagopalan. Nevertheless, there is not a hint of imitation in his music, only an original amalgamation and recreation of the styles which inspired him. Sanjay has of late been learning from a nagaswara exponent Semponnarkoil S.R.D. Vaidyanathan.

It is no exaggeration to say that Sanjay commands a huge and devoted fan following of three generations of Carnatic rasikas around the world.

Concert Details

Sanjay Subrahmanyan ------------- Vocal
T.T.Srinivasan ------------------ Violin
P.G.Lakshminarayan -------- Mridangam

Held on April 7, 1993 during Ramanavami festival in Parvathi, Mysore
(we regret we can’t find a photo from the concert)

Song List

01. Sarasuda (Varna)- Saveri- Kotthavasal Venkatarama Iyer *** 02. Samayamide -Kedara-Patnam Subramanya Iyer *** 03. Brochevarevarura-Khamach – Mysore Vasudevachar *** 04. Needu chranamule- Simhendramadhyama-Thyagaraja *** 05. Vandanamu- Sahana – Thyagaraja *** 06. Kaddanuvariki-Todi – Thyagaraja *** 07. Sapashyat Kausalya - Jonpuri -Panchapakesha Sastri*** 08. Jinjhuti Tillana- Veene Sheshanna *** 09. Thrippugazh - Harikambhoji- Arunagirinathar *** 10. Pavamana - Saurashtra- Thyagaraja ***

SPECIAL NOTE : We record our heart-felt condolence on the sad passing away of the great musician and teacher Prof. T.R. Subramanyam. His concert held in Parvathi in 1973 that we have shared here earlier is an all-time favourite.

We intend to post shortly another great concert of this wonderful scholar-musician. May his soul rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Establishing the Instrumental Solo Concert in Carnatic Music

N. Ramani, Ganesha Festival 1972

Text Courtesy: R. Sachi

We are happy to feature here another lovely concert of the evergreen favourite Dr. N. Ramani. Held during the Ganesha festival in 1972, the concert offers delectable fare typical of the golden years of instrumental concerts in Carnatic music.

Vidwans (L to R): Vellore Ramabhadran, K.S. Manjunath, N. Ramani, M.Chandrasekharan

There have been several narratives of the way instrumental music concerts made their impact on the Carnatic music scene from late 1950’s. Of course there were many stalwarts wielding the bow, or flute or veena, even before, who had established themselves as path-breakers. Then of course there were the Nadaswaram vidwans who not only commanded respect but were emulated in several major Banis of vocal and instrumental music - especially for their raga elaboration and swara rendering.

But we can clearly see a golden era during 1960’s and 1970’s when instrumental solo concerts commanded audiences and appreciation from connoisseurs. Today, there is no dearth of young talent among solo instrumentalists. But somehow they seem to have yielded ground to vocalists for a number of reasons. In any case, the home of Parvathi was witness to many stellar concerts of doyens performing instrumental solos, starting with Mahalingam, Lalgudi, Ramani, Doreswamy Iyengar, Emani, Chittibabu, TN Krishnan, M Chandrasekharan, KS Gopalakrishnan, Sikkil Sisters, Mandolin Shrinivas, Mysore Manjunath and Nagaraj, and so on. Even in this year’s K. Puttu Rao festival, there were two instrumental concerts - the Lalgudi siblings on the violin and Chandan Kumar on the flute - to regale audiences. This Parvathi site is already a treasure of over 25 instrumental solo concerts and more are coming!

In this concert, we can sense the enthusiastic mood of the artistes right from the word go. The two songs on Vinayaka are rendered with aplomb. The rare Mandari krithi is presented with panache. In Mohana, the opening phrases are clearly from the Lalgudi Bani, which Ramani holds in high regard. Chandrasekharan is full of anticipation. Throughout this concert, his violin sings so sweetly that Ramani rises to even greater heights. Ramani suffuses each song with superb raga bhava. The listeners are treated to excellent renderings of Bhavanutha, Palinchu Kamakshi and then a fine Kambhoji RTP. There is a Tani in Vellore style also. The audience appreciation can be clearly heard in many places, especially during the ragamalika swaras and the lighter items.

We are sure you will immensely enjoy this offering, and we promise you more stellar concerts soon!

Concert Details

N.Ramani --- Flute
M. Chandrasekharan---Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran --- Mridangam
K.S. Manjunath ---- Ghatam

Held on Sept 12, 1972 at 'Parvathi" during Gowri-Ganesh festival

Song List

01-Viriboni-Bhairavi- Pachimiriyam Adiappayya*** 02-Vatapi-Hamsadhwani- Muthuswami Dikshitar*** 03-Gajavadana-Sriranjani- Papanasam Sivan*** 04-Endukitu Chapalamu - Mandari - Patnam Subramanya Iyer*** 05-Bhavanutha-Mohana- Thyagaraja*** 06. Palinchu kamakshi – Madhyamavati – Shyama Shastri*** Excellent Tani!!! 07-Evarani-Devamruthavarshini- Thyagaraja*** 08-RTP-Kambhoji ( ragamalika swaras -Shahana. Nilambari, Bowli, Darbari Kanada)*** 09-Tillana - Tilang - Lalgudi Jayaraman*** 10-Bhajan- Madhuvanti*** 11-Ashtapadi-Desh- Jayadeva*** 12-Thiruppugazh- Kannada _Arunagirinathar*** 13-Mangalam***

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Spreading the Fragrance of Haridasa Literature

Vid. Vidyabhushana – K. Puttu Rao Memorial Concert 2011

We are happy to share a special concert focussing on the compositions of Haridasas, from the 2011 festival. Aptly, the concert features the inimitable Vid. Vidyabhushana, in the company of Vid. H. K. Narasimha Murthy (Violin), Vid. Shivashankaraswamy (Mridangam), and Vid. Ramanujam (Ghatam).

We share the following information from Wikipedia:

Sri Vidyabhushana is a vocalist from Karnataka. He sings devotional songs, chiefly Haridasa compositions, and carnatic classical music. He has hundreds of albums to his credit, mainly devotional songs in Kannada, and has given many concerts all over the world. His first album was the extremely popular "Dasara Padagalu" and the 100th - "Tanu Ninnadu Jivana Ninnadu". Performing for more than 20 years, he has traveled to many countries including a successful tour across the length and breadth of USA in 1999. He was honoured with the title of Sangeetha Vidya Nidhi in 1994. He was also conferred an honorary doctorate by Hampi University.

Sri Vidyabhushana began to learn music when yet very young, from his father late Sri Govindacharya , and for several years was an ardent disciple of Sri B. V. Narayana Aithal of Udupi. In the later years he got training from the famous musician, Sangeetha Kalanidhi Sri R. K. Srikantan and then from the well known exponent T. V. Gopalakrishnan of Chennai.

He continues his constructive activities in music, and the spread of devotion and service to the community through "Bhakti Bharathi Prathistana", a trust for which he is the founder trustee. This trust conducts extensive musical programs to commemorate Shri Purandara Dasara Aradhana and other events.

He is a native of Dakshina Kannada district. He lives with his wife and two kids in Bangalore. He was the pontiff of Subrahmanya Matha, before becoming a full-time singer.

Concert Details

Held at Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore on 2 Sept. 2011 during the K. Puttu Rao Memorial Festival.
Vid. Vidyabhushana – Vocal
Vid. H. K. Narasimha Murthy – Violin
Vid. Shivashankara Swamy – Mridangam
Vid. Ramanujam - Ghatam

Song List
01.AdiyaliGajamukhana -Mohana-Purandaradasa ***02. Sarasiruhanayane Sarasijasane –Amritavarshini- Thyagaraja *** 03-NeenupeksheyaMadi –Charukeshi-Kanakadasa*** 04.Dangurava Sarihariya- Aarabhi-Purandaradasa *** 05. NijaDasavarada- Kalyani-Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer *** 06. Chanchalisadiru- UdayaraviChandrike- Madhva *** 07. IshtuDinaEeVaikunta- Shuddha Dhanyasi-Kanakadasa *** 08. LokaBharitano- Mand- Vadiraja*** 09. IsabekuIddu- Amritavarshini- Purandaradasa *** 10. RamaNamavaNudiNudi- YamanKalyani- Purandaradasa *** 11. RogaharaneKripaSagara-Revati- Jagannathavitthala Dasa*** 12. KavaDaivavu- SindhuBhairavi- Purandaradasa *** 13. BhagyadaLakshmi- Madhyamavati- Purandaradasa ***

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thyagaraja shows the Right Royal Way

Vid. Neyveli Santhanagopalan
K. Puttu Rao Memorial Festival - 2012


As the K. Puttu Rao Memorial Festival 2013 gets under way in Mysore, we are happy to share here the concert from the 2012 series of Vid. Neyveli R. Santhanagopalan.

Vid. Santhanagopalan (b. 1963, Tiruchirapalli) pursued musical training under many distinguished musicians including Chembai Anantharama Bhagavatar, Vid. Srirangam Ranganathan, Vid. Tanjore Sankara Iyer, and Vid. T. N. Seshagopalan. In 1985 he toured Russia along with Vid. Seshagopalan. His music is in great demand in India and abroad, as he is known for the purity of tradition, creativity and an attractive presentation style (* Ref 1) He is proficient on the veena and is a composer. He is also active as a panel judge in televised talent shows.

In this concert he is ably accompanied by Vid. Govindaswamy, Vid. Shivashankaraswamy, and Vid. Manjunath. Vid. Santhanagopalan presents Kamavardhini and sings “Sada Enna Hrudayadalli” in a very emotive way. This concert garnered a rave review that we had featured in the last year’s report ( * Ref 2 ). The main piece presented in the concert is the famous song “Chakkaniraja”in the ever-popular Kharaharapriya. In this song, Saint Thyagaraja extols the right royal way to salvation and says ( * Ref 3 ),

Thyagaraja also states how he shuns serving those on the evil path in “Durmargachara”. This Ranjani song is also featured in this concert.

Concert Details

K. Puttu Rao Memorial Music Festival, Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore – Sept. 2, 2012

Vid. Neyveli Santhanagopalan – Vocal
Vid. M. S. Govindaswamy – Violin
Vid. Shivashankaraswamy – Mridangam
Vid. Manjunath – Ghatam

Song List

01 Vanajaksha-Atatala Varnam – Kalyani – Pallavi Gopala Iyer *** 02 NadaTanumAnisham-Chittaranjani- Thyagaraja *** 03 Saadinchane-Aarabhi- Thyagaraja *** 04 SadaEnnaHrudayadalli- Kamavardhini- Vijaya Vitthala Dasa *** 05 Ramabhadra Rara-Anandabhairavi- Bhadrachala Ramadasa *** 06 Durmargachara-Ranjani- Thyagaraja *** 07 RamanakkuMananMudi-Hindola – Arunachala Kavi *** 08 ChakkaniRaja-KaraharaPriya- Kharaharapriya *** 09 Tillana-Behag - Papanasam Sivan


1. Karnataka Sangeetha Vishaya Vishwakosha – Dr. V. S. Sampathkumaracharya, (pub. D.V. K. Murthy, Mysore)

2. Report-on-Sri-K-Puttu-Rao-Memorial

3. The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja- C. Ramanujachariyar (pub. Ramakrishna Math, Chennai)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

2013 - K.Puttu Rao Memorial Music Festival

Inviting all 'Rasikas'

Respected Rasikas,

We thank all of you who honor us with your kind presence day in and day out on this blog. We wish through you, to include many others.

We further request you to make your kind presence felt at the observance below:

We also wish to thank many of the Vidwans and Vidushis who will be performing with their virtuosity and learning, in truth to their great tradition. We wish to thank many of their great lineages, in parents, grandparents and teachers who have imbibed in them.

As this occasion is for the remembrance of a great music connoisseur, the 'Pitru'( ancestor ) of our Host Mr. K. Srikantiah, we also invite remembrances of many of the great musical 'Pitru(s)', who were once with us, and who commandeered the very same platform.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Vibrant Musician from Andhra – Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana

The year 2013 has witnessed already the passing of many doyens of Carnatic music. Vid. Satyanarayana passed away recently and we quote excerpts from The Hindu below.

Mahamahopadhyaya Padma Bhushan Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana was born in 1923 at Anakapalle in Andhra Pradesh. Nookala was spotted as a young talent and came under the initial guidance of Vid. Balamuralikrishna’s father, Vid. Mangalampalli Pattabhiramayya. At Vizianagaram he learned to play the violin from renowned musician Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu. But the influence of Dr. Pinakapani made him take up Carnatic vocal. Nookala’s personality changed as a musician under Dr. Pinakapani’s tutelage.

Over the years, Nookala became an icon in the field of Carnatic vocal. His analytical approach to music was stupendous and he passed on the same to his students, making their knowledge of musical science complete. Ahead of his times, Nookala was engaged in comparative studies of western and Hindustani music, and was an active author and even teacher on Skype to his overseas students.

Sri K. Srikantiah draws our attention to a special quality of attractiveness in Nookala’s music and also his impeccable diction in Telugu and other languages. Indeed Nookala is a vibrant musician from the great land of Andhra Pradesh.

In this concert, we also feature Vid. M. A. Krishnamurthy on the Ghatam. This artiste also passed away recently. He was a very popular ghatam artiste and played with all the stalwarts of Carnatic music. Trained under Vid. P.G. Lakshminarayana, he played the mridangam as well as ghatam.

Sri K. Srikantiah recalls fondly his association with Parvathi and mentions that he must have performed over 60 times in Parvathi concerts over many decades. Vid. Krishnamurthy also served as a staff artiste on AIR, Bangalore.

Vid. Krishnamurthy’s cheerful presence on the concert stage will be missed by many.

The other stars featured in this concert are Vid. Palghat Raghu and Vid. T. Rukmini.


Parvathi Ramanavami Concert, Mysore (12 April 1976)
Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana ------ vocal
T.Rukmini ------------------ Violin
Palghat Raghu ------------ Mridangam
M.A.Krishnamurthy ------------ Ghatam


01. Vatapi –Hamsadhvani- Muthuswami Dikshitar 02. Bantureethi – Hamsanada – Thyagaraja *** 03. Brovabhaarama – Bahudaari – Thyagaraja *** 04. Nee pogadakunte- Shubhapantuvarali – Thyagaraja *** 05. Anaathudanu kaanu – Jingla – Thyagaraja *** 06. Ranganaathude – Sowrashtra –Ponniah Pillai *** 07. Kaddanu variki – Todi – Thyagaraja *** 08. Undedi Ramudu- Harikambhoji – Thyagaraja *** 09.Chellare – Ahiri – Thyagaraja *** 10. Ramakatha Sudha – Madhuvanti – Thyagaraja *** 11. Sri Ramachandra Kripalu – Tulsidas Bhajan *** 12. Kapi Madhuripunaa – Jayadeva Ashtapadi *** 13. Dooru Maduvarene – Behag – Purandara dasa ***

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Core of Carnatic Music’s Appeal is the Krithi



We feature this time a typical ebullient concert of Vid. Maharajapuram Santhanam. Vid. Santhanam established himself as a classical concert crowd puller in the ‘70s and ‘80s with his virtuosity, voice timbre, and concert repertoire. He was particularly popular in rendering the songs with sowkhyam and madhuryam, especially the ragamalikas. In this concert, we have a major example, Nalinakanti-mati, with a huge bouquet of ragas.

Gurvayoor Dorai, H.P.Ramachar, Maharajapuram Santhanam, M.Chandrasekharan

We feel that the principal appeal of Carnatic music lies in its ocean of krithis or lyrics. The krithis, especially of the Trinity, Purandara Dasa and other great composers, provides an incomparable fund of joy, with devotional meaning as well as musical richness. Many musicians confess that to master a raga, what they must do is learn and practice well the major krithis in that raga. So the krithi goes beyond just wordy delight. The krithi is in fact the infrastructure of Carnatic music.

Vid. Santhanam covers a wide array of krithis in this concert. From his favourites like Mohana and Garudadhwani, he also forays into many other popular numbers. His obvious delight in rendering the “Nalinakantimati” ragamalika is infectious. The accompanists- Vid. M. Chandrasekharan and Vid. Guruvayur Dorai, have provided spirited, innovative accompaniment. As we have said in this blog elsewhere, it is not difficult to understand why Vid. Chandrasekharan has been a perennial favourite for violin accompaniment. His totally committed, virtuosic, tonally nectarine, accompaniment has made many a concert in Parvathi memorable. Similarly, Vid. Dorai is a very solid mridanga vidwan and his deep and measured strokes always enhance the musical impact.

We also want to quote the translation from The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja for the Garudadhwani song. Like many others, this song’s musical appeal somewhat hides the deep spiritual import of the saint composer’s thoughts:

It is only fitting that Saint Thyagaraja’s image adorns the stage in the photo of this concert.


Ramanavami Festival, Parvathi (3 April 1977)

Vid. Maharajapuram Santhanam – Vocal
Vid. M. Chandrasekharan – Violin
Vid. Guruvayur Dorai – Mridangam
Vid. H.P. Ramachar – Khanjira

Song List

01. Seetapate----- Khamach- Thyagaraja *** 02. Samajavaragamana-Hindola- Thyagaraja *** 03. Tatvamerugatarama-Garudadhwani- Thyagaraja *** 04. Evarura-Mohana- Thyagaraja *** 05. Sloka & Lalgudi Tillana – Brindavani*** 06. Nalinakantimati-Ragamalika- Madurai T Krishnaswamy *** 07. Ragamailka – continued *** 08. Tungateera- Salagabhairavi – Kamalesha Vitthala Dasa*** 09. Bansiwale – Mohanakalyani – Swati Tirunal *** 10. Mangalam ***

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The one who enjoyed Sangita as well as understood the meaning of Gita



This time we feature a Harikatha by Smt. Vishakha Hari. She is a lady of many accomplishments, including a distinguished career as a chartered accountant, and is now focussing full-time on musical discourses in the best traditions of the Harikatha Kalakshepa. As we have already mentioned before, over the years, the home of Parvathi welcomed Harikatha exponents as well as musicians and other artistes.

In the 2012 Puttu Rao Memorial Music Festival, Mr. Srikantiah wanted to feature this famed artiste Smt. Vishakha Hari, and this turned out to be her first public performance in the city of palaces. The subject of Ramayana is also a speciality for her as well as a subject of perennial appeal to all rasikas. Therefore we have this lovely offering this time.

The musical fare included speaks volumes for her training under Vid. Lalgudi Jayaraman and her musical repertoire is matched by her narrative skills honed under her guru Sri Sri Anna (Paranur Sri Krishnapremi). The accompanists have also done a commendable job in adding to the musical impact. They have tucked in a neat RTP in Kharaharapriya, giving ample scope for their musical expression.

Now a few words about the hero in Sundarakanda: Hanuman. Hanuman is one of the most popular deities all over India and even South-east Asia. Devotees extol him for his divine qualities of valour, devotion, and wisdom. As Saint Thyagaraja says, Hanuman was twice blessed in a unique way: he understood the import of the Bhagavadgita, and also thoroughly enjoyed true music offered as a prayer to Lord Rama.

We feel inspired to quote an extract from Sri Ramayana Darshanam, the epic poem by Dr. K.V. Puttappa ( Rastrakavi Kuvempu). When Hanuman meets Sita and he narrates to her the situation in Kishkindha and stresses Rama’s anguished sense of urgency to come and rescue her, Sita exclaims:

“Oh Hanuman, I bow down to you with folded hands. My thanks to your mother, Oh son of Anjana! May your parents be blessed. May your tribe be acclaimed. Let your noble reputation shine everywhere, forever! By telling me how my lord yet pines singularly for me, you have given me ambrosia. But by telling me how grief-stricken he is, you have given me poison, so you’re both kind and cruel! Fate that drove Rama and Lakshmana to this distress is surely unkind, and yet is it not Fate’s kind act o have arranged this happy encounter between us? Oh best among simians, forget not to narrate in detail all that you have seen and heard, and how the Solar dynasty’s scion’s dear wife is subjected here to utter wretchedness everyday. It was only Ravana’s wife Mandodari’s kind intercession that got me a year’s respite from death. Ten months are gone, and only two are left. Tell Rama to come at once and save me within these two months. This is my plea to Rama, and gifted orator that you are, may your message be fruitful”.

Sundarakanda is the most recited and loved portion of the immortal epic of Rama. And in this Harikatha, we have a real treat. Let us enjoy it!


K. Puttu Rao Memorial Festival, Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore on 4. 9. 2012

Vid. Vishakha Hari – Harikatha on Sundara Kanda
Vid. Ananthakrishnan – Violin
Vid. Arjun Ganesh – Mridangam

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Mojo of Laya in Carnatic Music

Vid. Abhishek Raghuram, Parvathi 2012

In a recent DD-televised panel discussion featuring notable Carnatic and Hindustani musicians, a statement was made how Carnatic music has created a special place for laya. The important role played by mridangam and other percussion instruments, the special place for tani avartanam, and the matchless treasure of krithis that embody the best confluence of melody and rhythm in myriad ways…all this gives a unique mojo to Carnatic music. There is no wonder that mridangam vidwans and other laya vidwans occupy a special place in our hearts. Vid. Abhishek Raghuram has taken this a step further, transitioning from the role of a percussionist to a leading young vocalist today, and creating a new brand of Carnatic vocal music suffused with laya ornamentation. Abhishek recently won the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

L to R: Tumkur Ravishankar, Tumkur Shashishankar, Abhishek Raghuram, Charulata Ramanujam

Abhishek comes from the “garadi (akhada)” or percussion school of the incomparable late Vid. Palghat Raghu, his grand-father. When Vid. Raghu was conferred the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title in 2007, his since-famous lec-dem on aspects of rhythm featured his two young grandsons Abhishek and Anand in performance. Abhishek has also honed his music skills under the tutelage of Sangeetha Kalacharya Vid. P.S. Narayanaswami.

This time we are happy to feature Abhishek’s concert from the 2012 Putturao Memorial series held at Mysore.

The accompanists have ably travelled the scintillating course of the concert with Abhishek. After a delightful “Ee Vasudha” in Shahana dedicated to the Kovur Sundareshwara by Saint Thyagaraja, he takes up Poorvi Kalyani for a most elaborate treatment. He paints its contours in a kaleidoscope of colours, much like a Windsor Manor Mango Festival featuring a surprising variety of dishes all with the mango theme (including one with mango marinated in champagne!). We can infer its overall impact on the audience when we read the critic Mr. Krishnamurthy’s words in his review for the Star of Mysore, ”the unprecedented Birkas, unimaginable sancharas were the highlight of Ragalapane”. The following song Parama Pavana Rama gives full rein to Abhishek’s laya prowess, and the violinist Charulata and the percussion duo of Ravishankar and Shashishankar as well, acquit themselves creditably.

In fact this song is mentioned in an incident narrated by Mysore Vasudevacharya in his memoir of his visit to the house of Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar (his guru bhai). It was a meeting between two vaggeyakaras, and the occasion was graced also by the presence of Veena Sheshanna and Subbanna. Vasudevacharya writes how Poochi (nickname) looked after his students and made sure they mastered each song. Once, Poochi’s student Salem Doreswamy Iyengar was reprimanded by the guru for not rendering Parama Pavana Rama perfectly. That night, with Vasudevacharya looking on as a guest at his home, Poochi discovered that the student was not asleep but gone missing from his room. An alarmed guru went in search and finally discovered him beside the pond at the back, practising the song fervently through the night. The guru ran down the steps and placing his hands affectionately on his pupil's shoulders, exclaimed: "Dore! What is all this?" Doreswamy Iyengar was totally immersed in his singing, not aware of anything else. He was singing his guru's composition in Poorvi Kalyani, Parama Pavana Rama, his voice filling the serene night with ineffable sweetness, each note of the raga throbbing with life.

After the main item, we have a real feast of manodharma-soaked melodic pieces – in Kapi, Yamuna Kalyani and Sindhu Bhairavi. Abhishek offers his tribute to his grand-father (as well as grand-uncle Lalgudi) in his rendition of Krishna Nee Begane, in the typical Lalgudi style.

So welcome to a great concert!

Details – K. Putturao Memorial Concert, Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore – Sep. 1, 2012

Abhishek Raghuram – Vocal
Charulata Ramanujam – Violin
Tumkur Ravishankar – Mridangam
Tumkur Shashishankar – Ghatam

Song List

01. Abhogi varnam – Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer*** 02. Tulasidala – Mayamalavagowla-Thyagaraja *** 03. EE Vasudha – Shahana- Thyagaraja*** 04. Parama Pavana Rama – Poorvikalyani-Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar *** 05. Janaki Ramana – Kapi – Vanamaamalai Jeeyar **06. Krishna Nee Begane – Yamuna Kalyani- Vysasaraya *** 07. Bhavani Dayani – Sindhu Bhairavi *** 08. Piraviyalai – Thiruppugazh Sindhu Bhairavi and Mangalam ***

Monday, May 13, 2013

Music's Bylanes VI – Interludes with a Maestro

A memory in B&W – Vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman

It has been a grieving few weeks for the multitudinous fans of the maestro Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman.

While the grief phase might be somewhat on the wane, we presume many would still be reaching out somewhere for a few quick clips of the great man, or indulging in some quick minutes of a strapped life for a favorite portion of his music, or even doing a quick scan of news items to see what might have been missed out on his life.

It is sort of hard for a human to reconcile themselves to a situation on someone, who till just yesterday was such a living presence and who by some quirk turn of fate, we are now told, is no more.

While this writer has had no competency in going to the forum groups and rejoicing with the many astute Rasikas who linger there with their finer impressions of his playing, he did savor the few precious moments afforded to him as a young teen, when he could wander freely in the house armed with a somewhat effortless Kodak Brownie.

That simple contraption would yield for contemplation, half a century later, a couple of black @ white moments of frozen time (re-posted above) with the Vidwan in the company of the other giants - UKS, AR and some of “Parvathi's’ own elders held young by time. They had found themselves coming together on a particularly memorial Puja day dedicated to the Goddess Gayatri.

And then that momentary interlude, also framed in time, by the same teenager who happened to express a certain regret to the great man (having been mesmerized earlier by the violin play) that he had never been lucky in visiting the sacred Thiruvaiyyaru. He subsequently found himself gazing into two mirthful liquid pools that surprised him somewhat with their answer “Why don’t you come with me. Stay with me. I will look after you”.

Even after so many years, there never has been cause for doubt that those words were uttered by a man evolved in abject sincerity.


In speaking of things “Parvathi”, ours has been a metaphor only to capture a certain era.

To some of us, the fortunate few, who were present then and who are present today amidst the newer generations, it provides for contrasts. The word ‘value’ has a certain value only when you can compare things in light of contrasts.

That such an era is passing us by, continuously, has come about more as reminders in recent times , as we have stood by in homage through these pages to a Parur M.S. Gopalkrishnan, a Vellore Ramabhadran, a beloved actor in Karnataka’s Vishnuvardhan or the V. Shantaram documentary producer winner M.V.Krishnaswamy. Also, included in this circle as a finger count have been some of Parvathi’s own members.

The K. Puttu Rao tree – branching off into five generations

At home to the MahaSwamiji of Sringeri

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bon Voyage, Maestro!

A Tribute to the Carnatic Music Legend Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman (1930-2013)

When Vidwan Mysore T. Chowdiah ruled the Carnatic stage with his leonine presence, his resounding violin, and his large-hearted nature, the main artistes keenly competed to have him on their side and audiences thronged the concerts for unforgettable musical delights as well as delectable Kutcheri moments. Aptly called Pakkavadya Chakravarthy, he provided, in one scholar's expression, Krishna Sarathya - a sure formula for success - and underlined the primacy of the violin as an accompanying instrument. Thus, for the violin, its Carnatic journey reached a landmark; a journey which began with Sri Baluswami Dikshitar (brother of Muthuswami Dikshitar) and progressed over many decades in the capable hands of stalwarts who wielded the bow and tamed a western instrument to Carnatic mores. Using tennis analogy, this journey was like the transition from the Rod Laver wooden racket amateur era to the Boris Becker carbon composite professional era.

After Chowdiah, naturally, several young stars emerged. The term Violin Trinity was coined. Along with T. N. Krishnan and M. S. Gopalakrishnan, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman formed the new triumvirate of violin greats who brought a new lustre to Carnatic concert. All three came on the concert stage before their teens. However, it is interesting to note what Chowdiah said about Lalgudi: "All of us must stop playing now that this boy has appeared."

Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman, so dear to all music lovers world over, has finished his earthly journey (1930-2013). We pay our humble tribute to him and wish him Bon Voyage for his heavenly sojourn, filled as it surely will be, with ethereal music.

The Mysore Connection

Lalgudi Jayaraman comes from a family tracing direct discipleship to Saint Thyagaraja. After gurukula vasa, Thyagaraja's disciple Raman returned home, to live in Tapastheerthapuram (also called Lalgudi) across Cauvery from Thiruvaiyyaru. The saint later came to Lalgudi and stayed there at his home for some time, composing his Lalgudi pancharatnam kritis there in praise of the local deities Saptarisheeshwara and Pravirddha Srimati. Sri Rama Iyer has been mentioned as a direct disciple in Thyagaraja's biography by Walajapet Rama Bhagavatar. Rama Iyer later went to the court of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar in Mysore, as the asthana vidwan there. He once won plaudits for singing an elaborate four kalai trikala pallavi. He features in courtly attire in one of the palace paintings displayed in Jaganmohan Palace. Sri Jayaraman did research and managed to obtain a photograph of the vidwan's portrait which we reproduce here (from Sruti magazine).

Rama Iyer's son Radhakrishna Iyer resided in Ramanathapuram, and established himself as a famous violin vidwan. His second son Gopala Iyer was a multifaceted genius and had an interesting journey in matters of the spirit and music before he eventually settled down in Madras. His illustrious son and disciple is Sri Jayaraman. As they say, the rest is history.

Vidwan Lalgudi Rama Iyer – Disciple of Thyagaraja –Jaganmohan Palace Mysore Painting
(reproduced from Sruti magazine)

Mr. K. Srikantiah’s Tribute

I first met Lalgudi Jayaraman in 1950. My father had heard about this talented youngster and he had invited him to accompany GNB at Bidaram Krishnappa Rama Mandiram. However, GNB had brought along T.N. Krishnan to play the violin. So Lalgudi could not take the stage. Despite this setback, he decided to attend the concert and sat in the audience enjoying the concert, next to me. He was about 20 years then and sported a kudumi. We soon introduced ourselves, one as the violinist, and the other as the music-crazy son in the Putturao family, Srikantiah. Thus began a friendship which saw its diamond jubilee recently.

I was invited but could not attend Lalgudi's wedding at Hyderabad. However, 1958, Lalgudi accompanied Sri T.K. Rangachari in my wedding concert ( to be precise on 11 June, held inside Parvathi premises). I used to visit Lalgudi’s family at 9, Jones Road, Saidapet for many years. I have met his father and mother also. I reproduce below Lalgudi’s photograph from 1946, which he gave me, as well as my wedding concert photo. When the Chowdiah Memorial Hall was built, they also instituted the Chowdiah National award. The first national award was to be presented in 1982. I attended the selection committee meeting, where stalwarts like Veene Doreswamy Iyengar, Sri BVK Shastry and Sri Natarajan (GM, SBM and a musician) were present. I made a strong case before the awards committee that there was only one name worthy of the first ever Chowdiah National award - Lalgudi. The committee were more than convinced. Recall what Chowdiah had stated long back, that "all of us must stop playing now that this boy has appeared."

Later, in 1986, Krishna Gana Sabha honoured Lalgudi in a big function, celebrating an unbroken series of 50 violin solo concerts there. There were many dignitaries on the dais, viz. Sri Semmangudi Srinivasaiyer, the Travancore Prince, Dr. Pinakapani, Miss Lata Mangeshkar, Mrs. M.S. Subbulakshmi, and Maharashtra Housing Minister Dr. V. Subramanian. I had the honour to take the dais representing Karnataka. My speech felicitating Lalgudi was later quoted in the Hindu newspaper. Lalgudi also was gracious to mention, during his acceptance speech, our family’s long association with Carnatic music and our role in establishing a unique memorial, viz. The Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore.

Lalgudi has come and performed in Parvathi more than 30 times, giving a few solo concerts and donning the role of violin accompanist to many stalwarts. Several of these concerts have been shared in this blog. We share in this tribute some selections from these concerts.

I state here what I have said in several interviews about Lalgudi to reporters, authors and documentary makers: I have closely interacted with violin vidwans and Carnatic music stalwarts from the era of Rajamanickam Pillai and Chowdiah, Krishnan, Parur and Lalgudi, and several youngsters of today. I would like to sum up my assessment of Lalgudi. When it comes to the violin, we must first place Lalgudi aside. All other violinists form one group, Lalgudi stands separate. We can discuss others' relative merits and greatness. But Lalgudi is beyond comparisons, labels and definitions. He is the greatest as regards the violin in Indian music – as an accompanist, soloist, composer and teacher. I am glad his children and disciples are preserving the Lalgudi bani well.

Lalgudi was fond of visiting the calm and beautiful Nandi hills in summer with his family. I once accompanied him with my family. We thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenic setting, walks amidst the greenery, and talks about music. In fact he used to walk for one hour in our sprawling lawns between 6 and 7 AM every morning when he came over to Parvathi. He used to say it is good for one’s eyesight. Lalgudi always stayed in Parvathi during his concerts. In fact, after the concert, he used to look forward to the family feast, especially my mother’s “thatte idli”and “gasgase payasa”.

When Lalgudi won worldwide recognition in an honour from the International Music Council, Paris and the Asian Pacific Forum which judged him to be the best musician from 77 international entries, the result was announced over the national radio. I was delighted to hear the good news and I was the first one to congratulate Lalgudi and give him the extremely happy news over the phone. I visited him in Chennai as recently as 2010. He was physically not at his best but I was happy to see that he had continued to give music lessons and also compose new kritis.

We have posted a number of photos in this tribute, recalling so many special moments. We at Parvathi will always cherish our close association with a legendary vidwan and a great human being.

I am saddened that I have lost such a close friend. I cannot express my feelings any more. I can only say, without any hesitation, that Lalgudi’s passing is the end of an important era in Indian classical music. May his soul rest in peace and may he continue his musical pursuits for ever.

Recollections of Mysore Prabha

“The first thing that comes to my mind at the mention of Jayaraman Uncle's name is that he was a person very close to my father's heart.

I have several times heard my father say - "When you speak of violin-playing, keep Lalgudi Jayaraman apart, and then talk about it ".

This was not to bring down the virtuosity or merit of other veteran violinists in any way. It was just his unbounded adoration for his friend's violin-playing, particularly as a soloist."

As a young person, I always used to wonder how a person with such name and fame as Jayaraman uncle could be so simple and down-to-earth. I never heard him speak ill of anybody. He was never arrogant or boastful about his own art.He just used to smile happily with child-like pride whenever one praised his violin-playing or his compositions. And why not ? Only a jeweller knows his gems' worth ! "

Uncle Jayaraman always tremendously admired Lata Mangeshkar and her singing. (From what we have heard, the admiration was fully reciprocated by Lataji). I distinctly remember him telling me -"Every swara has a certain slot of it's own. Whenever a person sings, each and every swara should automatically go and fall into it's particular slot - like Lata Mangeshkar's singing ".

Whenever he used to visit our house, after the concert, he would ask me to sing some old Hindi film songs, Meera Bhajans, and would greatly appreciate some "Sangatis" in them.

One of my most cherished treasures is the notation and script of his Dhanasari tillana which uncle wrote for me in his own hand-writing, and an autographed book of his compositions.

During every visit he would without fail bring a gift for me - be it a tape-recorder, a box of sweets or a book on music.

Uncle had insisted that I stay in Madras for a few months and that he would fine-tune my singing. I regret that I did not pay heed to his suggestion. "

With a heavy heart, we have to accept the inevitable. The sound of his violin will always echo, but the platform would be empty now !

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eternally in our Collective Memories

Vidwan Lalgudi G. Jayaraman

September 17, 1930 - April 22, 2013
[Courtesy The Hindu – Slideshow compilation by T. Arvind]

We join in with the manifold mourners throughout this world, who are in prayer to this great soul’s journey.

He meant so many things to the so many – a dignified friend, a laudable human being, an extraordinarily respected teacher, a par-excellent musician, a brilliant composer, a loving family man and as the countless Rasikas would like to echo within their own minds – a man who could make the instrument ‘sing’.

Through these pages, in our blog, we have shared with you all, all that could be said – while he was living.

We believe our ‘Kartavyam’ (dutiful obligation) now, is to join in with you to keep those memories alive in every way.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Transmitting the Guru - Shishya Tradition

Sangeetha Kala Acharya P.S. Narayanaswami

(courtesy rsmridangam.com)

Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswami was a welcome guest at Parvathi over many years when he came along with his illustrious guru Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Sri K. Srikantiah remembers him as a very dedicated disciple of his guru. Sri PSN, as he is fondly called by rasikas, used to play on the tambura and give vocal support to Sri Semmangudi. On this occasion, however, we are happy to feature a full-fledged vocal concert of Sri PSN in the company of Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin and Sri Vellore Ramabhadran on the mridangam. The concert took place during the Ramanavami festival of 1976.

We glean from The Hindu and Carnatica these biographical details:

P. S. Narayanaswami is one of the most prominent among the several famous disciples of Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Sri PSN is hardly known by his full name. He is so popular as a teacher of music in Chennai that most of the young musicians of today would have had a period of training under him. Certainly, this speaks volumes about his capacity and reputation as a great concert teacher.

Born on February 24, 1934, at Konerirajapuram, to Dr. P. N. Subramaniam, a medical practitioner, Sri PSN exhibited his talent in music at a very tender age and his parents put him under Thirupampuram Somasundaram Pillai, a nagaswaram vidwan, for his music lessons. Sri PSN made rapid progress and later came under Sangita kalanidhi Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, and then under Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Under the gurukulavasa system, he joined Semmangudi in the early 1950s.

Sri PSN had started giving concerts, both public and through All India Radio, at the age of 15. He has received a number of awards starting from when he was just 12 years old! To name some of them: Bala Gana Ratnam (1946), Sangeeta Sikhamani (1972), Sangeeta Nadakkanal (1991), Sangeetaacharya (1992), Madhura Gana Mamani (1994), Sangeeta Kala Sagaram (1996), Isai Selvam (1997), Innisai Chakravarthy (1999), Gana Kalanidhi (1999), Sangeeta Kala Acharya (2000), Sangeetha Choodamani (2003) and Padma Bhushan (2012). He was also made the Asthana Vidwan of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham in 1990.

Vellore Ramabhadran, P.S. Narayanaswami, Lalgudi Jayaraman - 1976

Today Sri PSN is well known as a teacher of many star disciples. He is known to attend his disciples’ concerts regularly and give them much encouragement. He talked to Carnatica some years ago about his methods of teaching and his views. He trains aspiring professionals in around 40 ragas, and makes them work on those for rendering in concerts. He does not encourage his students to follow his own style but leaves it to their intelligence to develop their own style and maintain it. He states that in order to achieve a certain proficiency, each song should be sung at least 100 times!

Coming to this concert, we feature some elaborate renditions in Shankarabharana, Kamavardhini (MD: Kashiramakriya), and Mohana. After a vibrant Viriboni, the not-so-common Neranammithi in Chakravaka receives vigorous treatment. The Shankarabharana main piece- alapana, rendition of Enduku Peddala and the swara exchanges- is the highlight of this concert. It is a delight to feel the camaraderie and mutual appreciation among these three contemporary stalwarts. The tempo of the song as well as the solid vidwat on display gives an insight into Sri PSN’s musical values that eschew vocal callisthenics as well as overworked manodharma. The overall feeling is one of a very satisfying concert experience. The violin and mridangam accompaniments carry the hallmark of genius.

Details (Parvathi Ramanavami festival, 10.4.1976)

P.S. Narayanaswami – Vocal
Lalgudi Jayaraman – Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran – Mridangam

Song List

01. Viriboni – Bhairavi Ata Tala varna – Pachimiriyam Adiappayya *** 02. Neranammithi – Chakravaka – Mysore Vasudevacharya *** 03. Ramanatham Bhajeham – Kamavardhini – Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 04. Paripahi – Mohana – Swathi Thirunal *** 05. Enduku Peddala – Shankarabharana – Thyagaraja *** 06. Ramajogi – Khamach – Bhadrachala Ramadasu*** 07. Shloka – Saveri, Bilahari, Sindhu Bhairavi *** 08. Bhaja Bhaja Manasa – Sindhu Bhairavi – Swathi Thirunal *** 09. Thillana – Darbari Kanada – Lalgudi Jayaraman *** 10. Mangalam ***