/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": January 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Music's Bylanes VII: Sweet Notes

It has been our practice for a while, that as we wait for our team members to prepare a concert, we offer you insights into some peripheral themes in connection with “Parvathi”.

Somewhere, in our belief system, raised as we were, we have this tendency to adulate a past. As time moves on, we still like to keep tabs on some of the great ones that were once with us in a contribution of our Heritage.

Lest people get bored in these times of things that are not quick, we offer you our thoughts encapsulated only in the form of some short notes.

The very much revered MS once again caught our eye amongst many assorted “Parvathi” collections.

When you consider, it is rather strange that any American film director, in those days, would make a journey to Madras to make films, let alone one not in one’s native tongue (English), but also without knowing anything of an other’s customs or ways of life given worlds away. But this is precisely what happened when a man called Ellis R. Dungan picked himself up in moving himself all the way from a Barton, Ohio to India in 1935.

Besides an amazing directing debut in Sathi Leelavathi which cast a future Chief Minister and swashbuckling hero M.G. Ramachandran for the first time, he also directed a movie called Meera with M.S. Subbalakshmi, creating a sacred trough called “Meera Bhajans” which made many a South Indian family to hold MS dear to their heart for the rest of their lives.

In Dungan’s bag was also a much heralded direction of Carnatic Music’s greatest pairing MS-GNB in “Shakuntalai”. This was under the banner of Royal Talkies, a Subbulakshmi and husband T. Sadasivam’s own venture into films. As everyone knows the movie was a runaway success and created an aura of its own for MS and GNB, even to this day.

Music's Bylanes VIII : By Ganesha's Grace

There was a reason for our picking up the jacket of the album (below). This is one of "Mellisai Mannar" M.S. Vishwanathan’s exploration to see how far his musical genius would take him. He provided music for the Kannada Movie industry, too, through a film called “Ganesh Mahimae”, which was a financial success.

He was kind enough to call for the vocalization to be provided by a member of “Parvathi’s own family - Mysore Prabha, Sri K. Srikantiah’s daughter.

Music's Bylanes IX: Shri Tattva Nidhi

What sets Mysore Maharajas so distinguishably apart?

We show you the cover of the first Volume of a Nine volume set.

This is a magnum opus of one of the Wodeyar Kings of great esteem, H.H. Sri Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868). It is an encyclopedic work in “Samskruta” (Sanskrit), of an immense study on the ancient Hindu Texts that talk of all the subscribed “Nidhis”. It is one of the rarest books in the annals of Indian Literature and speaks of fundamental aspects of traditional knowledge, which were unique to India in terms of its towering civilization.

His Highness showed a remarkable memory and capacity for education and dealt with many a subject of his heritage, in his attempts to be a great King and to govern as such. His range of interests included Philosophy, Astrology, Medical Science, mathematics, dance, music, puzzles and even game theories.

The compilation of his remarkable work comes from The Oriental Research Institute, Mysore, a stone’s throw from where “Parvathi” held its music performances. This was an Institute that his adopted son and successor H.H. Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar bequeathed to the nation of India in 1891. This is the same Institute that published the renowned work “ArthaSaastra of Kautilya” by Dr. R. Shyamashastry which drew international attention on some of the great thought processes that once existed in India. The Institute now boasts of a collection of 80,000 of the rarest manuscripts in India.

Music's Bylanes IX: Shri Tattva Nidhi (....continued)

In many places we have alluded to the Mysore Maharajahs as great benefactors of art, culture and of people. We have particularly mentioned his Highness Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar in many contexts.

We have also talked of Durbar Bakshi’s (Palace Secretaries) with whom our host Sri. K. Srikantiah would facilitate many a help from the Palace for some of the great music doyens.

We turn our minds to the great composer Muthiah Bhagavatar in such a context.

As our very many of our Rasikas know, Muthiah Bhagavatar, is one of Carnatic Classical music's most famous twentieth-century composer. He is credited with a mammoth 400 musical compositions and about 20 ragas. He was also known to be a Harikata Vidwan and adept at playing many an instrument. At times, some of the great Carnatic Vidwans including Madurai Mani Iyer, T. Chowdiah, Veena Chitti Babu would play a rare tune to an encore called “English Note”. This too was one of the creations of this great composer.

The rare photograph (above) shows him as a Mysore court musician. During his tenure at the Mysore Palace he was known to have composed 115 kritis in Kannada all in praise of Chamundeshwari Devi, the Ishta Devi of the Maharajas and the protective Mother of the city called Mahishasura-uru (Mysuru as rendered in the native).

[ We are very obliged to Heritage Objects of Mysore for preserving and publishing such photos. Heritage Objects of Mysore can be found on Facebook, with permission. It is to their credit that they have created a virtual museum on the life and times of the great Mysore Kings with some very rare photographic displays and narratives. ]

Ah, is it just Coimbatore ?

The city of Coimbatore in Tamilnadu is also connected in more ways than one with the family of “Parvathi”. As a musical center, it would often find Sri. K. Srikantiah making many a sojourn there for the cause of music along with T. Chowdiah or many an eminent other (things that we have mentioned before).

It was also a city recognized as a home for some cherished sweets, thanks to Messrs. “Krishna Sweets”, whose very fine creations would bring many a famous Carnatic Musician such as an MMI or GNB craving for the same while thinking of a simultaneous performance there.

Somewhere, in the passage of time, it also became a city of “Sambandhi”, as “Parvathi’s” extended family found itself with “in-laws” there.

We show you a rare photograph (below) of Parvathi “Sambandhi”, the late Shri. S.R.Nanjundan of Coimbatore as seen with his late Highness Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar. Throughout his life Mr. Nanjundan would have cause to remember his very close and honorable friendship with H.H. and their families.

Mysore’s famed Parliamentary building, the Vidhana Soudha, even as of today, carries many a tile installed from the Coimbatore factory of Shri S.R. Nanjundan.

Continuing with our Wodeyar Kings, we show you His Highness JCW, greeting a young Mr. M.V. Krishnaswamy of Documentary fame (we’ve spoken of him elsewhere in our pages).

Now, how many do we know that can show us such a photo (below) for their Bio data?

" This Mysore-born film maker assisted Roberto Rossellini on the sets of Viaggio in Italia starring Ingrid Bergman and once "made" Satyajit Ray stand in a queue for a cinema ticket...But he makes such facts appear like that serene illumination in the verandah which does not blind your eyes...."
- Sugata Srinivasaraju on M.V. Krishnaswamy

Finally, as we went into print, we heard the heart warming news of a person who made the distinguished PADMA BHUSHAN rolls for 2014.

As all the B&W photographs on this blog reveal, in a rare collection of his much younger days, we are provided with the glimpses of a genius who provided magnificent accompaniment for the greatest of the Carnatic vocalists of those times. This was much earlier to his departure onto a world platform, with the group “Shakti” or with the Grammy.

How do we best like to remember our famous Ghatam Vidwan artist T.H. “Vikku” Vinaykram?

Just as he is shown below.

[ Courtesy: Experience with Mahaperiava ]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Respecting the Tradition

Sri K. J. Yesudas, 1998 Ramanavami Concert

Text by Mysore Prabha

No traditional Carnatic music concert is complete without Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi. It is said to be the centre-piece of the concert. Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi is an elaboration of a specific raga, generally a melakarta raga, and is completely creative with a huge scope for improvisation. Any musician is said to have reached a level of excellence only when he/she is able to perform a RTP on stage. It is the perfect item for the artist to show his/her skill and mastery. Yesteryear musicians were all adept at singing RTP and would invariably perform it in all their concerts. Mysore Vasudevachar, the well-known composer, was a master in singing Tana in trikala.

In the concert that we feature here, Sri K.J. Yesudas has performed a RTP in a rare raga -Ramapriya. It is to be highly appreciated that despite being a top name in film playback singing for five decades, Sri Yesudas has not compromised in traditional canatic singing. He generally performs RTP in his classical concerts.In fact, in this concert, he has spoken a few words to the audience on the importance of RTP, which is also presented.

Kannada films superstar, Vishnuvardhan, was one among the audience for this concert. His words of praise for Yesudas and his singing is also featured here.

We hope that you will enjoy the concert.

Concert Details:

Ramanavami Festival at Parvathi, Mysore, concert held on 11 April 1998.

K.J.Yesudas ---------- Vocal
T.G.Tyagarajan -------violin
T.A.S.Mani ------------Mridangam

Song List

01 Valachi (Varna-Navaragamalika)- Patnam Subramanya Iyer *** 02 Vatapi (Hamsadhvani)-swara- Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 03 Guruvina gulama(Hamsanandi)- Purandara Dasa *** 04 Ksheerasagara(Devagandhari)- Thyagaraja *** 05 Nagumomu(Abheri)- Thyagaraja *** 06 Shankarabharana Raga-Yenduku peddala-swara- Thyagaraja *** 07 Hanumana matave(vagadheeswari)-swara- Purandara Dasa*** 08 Ela Nee Daya(Athana)- Thyagaraja *** 09 Talk by Yesudas*** 10 Ramapriya Raga-Tana-Pallavi-Swara*** 11 Tani avartanam*** 12 Speeches by KS,Vishnuvardhan,Shivram*** 13 He Ram tumhare(Hindi bhajan)*** 14 Yellellu Sangeetave(Saramati-Malayamaruta film)*** 15 Mangala darshana(Ananda bhairavi)*** 16 Ramakatha(Shubhapantuvarali)*** 17Harivarasanam(Madhyamavati)*** 18 Alaipayude (Kanada)- Oothukadu Venkata Kavi*** 19 Krishna nee begane(Yamunakalyani)- Vyasaraya*** 20 Yogeendranam(Narayaneeyam)*** 21 Mangalam***

Friday, January 10, 2014

Music Critic S.R.Krishnamurthy : An Euology

As with many things, this blog was meant to be a celebration in life – to a joy that heralded music, its saints, its composers, its participants, all in an ode of worship to some supreme power above.

Of course, in-between, we were forced to contend with a certain reality; a significant reality as portrayed by of one of the hands of a symbolically multi handed God in Hinduism; the hand that can sometimes strike you with a sheer, intense warning reminding you of the one who will always be in absolute control.

It’s just that we were not ready for the hand to strike this type of a blow.

As the rest of a world braced itself to wish each other the Season’s Greetings and to a New Year of a Western calendar, there was, tragically, a certain corner of our own world where people were caught up in a devastation of the most horrible kind imaginable.

[ 2013 Puttu Rao Memorial Festival - SRK as seen front row, third from left ]

Sri. S.R. Krishnamurthy ( SRK ) 70, redoubtable Music Critic from Mysore, was on his way as Chief Guest to a school's silver jubilee function in the city of Raichur. He along with scores of others happened to take an ill fated journey in the very bogie of the Bangalore–Nanded Express that caught fire in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh on Dec 28, 2013. He was one of the twenty-six people who were charred in the inferno, and in the aftermath it was an even more of a grueling ordeal for members of families as they waited in anguish for news of their loved one(s) and a formal verification based on DNA testing.

As we pray for a solace for Sri S.R.Krishnamurthy’s grieving family ( his 90-year-old mother Annapoorna, wife Amritamayi, son Wing Commander S.K. Vinay  Indian Air Force, son S.K. Sanjay Professor, National Institute of Engineering, daughter Anupama and his daughters-in-law ), we would like to remember him as he exactly lived his life, full to its brim.

[ Courtesy: Star of Mysore Jan 3, 2014 ]
[ Paying respects to the departed at Veene Seshanna Bhavana, Mysore ]

He was a very versatile man who along with his equally well known brother S.R. Ramaswamy, shared a passion for journalism between them. He had a great love for music, and was a popular music critic who wrote for many distinguished newspapers including the Star of Mysore, where he reported on the cultural scene.

Felicitated and welcomed to many a function in the state of Karnataka, he would lend his support to many a varied cause; at the Gurudeva Lalithakala Academy he could be seen lending his weight behind the traditional arts of Yakshagana and Bayalata as the prominent folk art of Bhakti sect, and he would bemoan the fact that they were not granted the status of traditional art; at the 125th anniversary celebration of the Bharathi Vidya Bhavan to which he was attached ever since his student days, he could be seen suggesting that the students should be groomed to develop interest in art right from a tender age.

His most defining moments came as the Secretary of “Ganabharathi”, a very well known music academy, where he undertook the formation of a huge digital music archive where a Rasika could choose and listen to favorite ragas from the vast collection of classical music from 1935. He was behind the popularizing of classical music and the much needed help for music lovers, researchers and students. In this he had to collaborate with many well wishers. The facility was donated by Tiruvengadachari and Gopalan Corporation ( TAG) and Madras Music Academy ( MMA). Other notables were the Departments of Music University of Madras and University of Hyderabad, the Gayana Samaja in Bengaluru and the Indian Fine Arts Society, Singapore. The project was the brainchild of industrialist and music lover R T Chari from Chennai.

He was a close friend to “Parvathi” and we mourn his loss deeply. Just a month before his demise he was in consultation with Sri K. Srikantiah on notes to a music book he was writing. Year after year, he would faithfully review the K. Puttu Rao Memorial Music Festival. We shall present his 2013 review in a subsequent post.