/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gamanashrama sung by Ganavisharade Dr. M. L. Vasanthakumari

To our community of listeners, we bring again another stellar concert from the redoubtable Dr. MLV. A musician hailing from the classical mould, she combined outstanding creativity with excellent voice control. The result was quite often deeply memorable raga elaborations, rare krithis mined from the repository of compositions going beyond the trinity, and a brisk technique of delivery that gripped the audience from the word go. It is no exaggeration that today, as we listen to fast paced "modernist" Carnatic music, we often recall the GNB bani and the unique place held in our hearts by Dr. MLV.

In this concert, we are treated to elaborate renderings of Madhyamavati and Kharaharapriya. The recording quality is not good in quite a few places. But there is a persuasive argument why we share this concert - there is a brilliant, yes brilliant, rendering of Gamanashrama in the Ragam, Tanam and Pallavi. Dr. MLV is quite at home giving us the rich fare of a rare raga more remembered as the 53rd Melakarta whose Janyas are Purvi Kalyani and Hamsanandi. There are very few compositions in this raga which was called Gamakakriya by the Dikshitar school. There are also only a handful of recordings of RTP in this raga in Carnatic music archives. We could translate literally Gamanashrama to 'tough going'!

The concert has many fine Bhajans, Dasa compositions and ragamalikas. Overall a rich experience that one associated with Dr. MLV in Parvathi concerts.

April 1, 1972

Dr. M.L. Vasanthakumari --- Vocal
Smt T.M. Prabhavathi --- Pinpattu
Sri Tiruvallur Subrahmanyam --- Violin
Sri Tanjavur Krishnamurthy Rao --- Mridangam
Sri H.P.Ramachar --- Khanjira.

01_Varnam- Shuddha Todi- Kothavasal Venkatarama Iyer 4:37
02_Srimahaganapathe_Abhogi - N.S. Ramachandran 4:22
03_Swaminatha_Natai_ Muthuswami Dikshitar 7:44
04_Nadupai_Madhyamavathi_ Thyagaraja 19:12
05_Kalayami Raghuramam_Begada_Swathi Thirunal 20:03
06_Mariyadagadayya_Bhairavam_Thyagaraja 5:55
07_Ramaneesamana_Kharaharapriya_Thyagaraja 29:25
10 Gamanashrama RTP ( Kanada Hindola) 43:08
11_Yadavaraya_Ragamalika_Kanakadasa 5:31
12_Yakenirdaya_Ragamalika-Purandaradasa 5:47
13_Abhang_Devaranama 8:11
14_Payoji Maine Ramratan_Mishra Pahadi_Meera Bai 4:35
15_Ragamalika Shloka Mamava Pattabhirama_Manirangu_Dikshitar9:33
16_Barokrishnayya_Ragamalika_Kanakadasa 4:55
17_Mangalam 0:39


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Lord Sri Raama as Kubera

As we waited on our very learned friend in music R.Sachi to extol the virtues of the next concert from "Parvathi", we found ourselves engrossed in a few serious issues concerning our own would be 'Identities'; and they came simultaneously from three very different sources.

The first, on the seriousness of 'Identity' was brought home by a very powerful representative of the Hindu community here in the USA, who has made this his home over several decades. He is a man who has been given to some tremendous world wide charities, who is a very distinguished scholar in his own right, and who takes away ones breath in a most dynamic manner when he is on the podium relating to this very intriguing subject. In two very rapid successions this year, he has penned two extraordinary books "BREAKING INDIA" and "BEING DIFFERENT" and is currently riding on the crest of some very thought provoking meets both in India and in the USA.

He is also currently involved in some very serious discussions with the senior members of India's government, bringing home issues facing India's integrity, its security and above all a 'lost' IDENTITY, far from the pale of issues that India's media can either comprehend or discuss with their public, other than the feeding of salacious material for some immediate end.

With just this introduction we leave you to your own devices to discover him for yourself, either through Google/Bing, through YouTube, Facebook or through a publishing entity such as the Huffington Post.

For those in India, who wish for a face to face meeting, here is your opportunity! (Click)

"Life in the 70s!"
Cherished patron and very popular Karnataka Chief Minister
Devaraja Urs, and F. K. Irani builder of Ideal Jawa
preside at an event in "Parvathi".
Seen also is Gowri Kuppuswamy rendering the invocation.

Our other absorption, came from some of those innocuous but precious moments relating to a life, spent with the very respected octogenarian Sri. K. Srikantiah.

Of particular note and leading inevitably towards contemplation, were those words wherein he spoke of 'mystical forces at work' in his life

"... you know, all these years, any time I became involved in this 'Karya', I would be besieged with hundreds of responsibilities and problems... sometimes these problems would become huge obstacles, all created by all sorts of people and their agencies. It seemed so petty and incomprehensible and here I was providing the Lord's music free to all of them!... I felt, many a time, of giving all this up,...but there was always that one thought with Lord Raama! that held it all together... some inexplicable force would always make all these problems go away...the solutions were all beyond me...and in the end, each occasion would be a success leaving everyone feeling happy ..."

The ever smiling legend of Bollywood - Dilip Kumar- during a visit
in the early 70s!

A final urge to examining our own identity came in the light of reading the Ramayana, in its very first section where Valmiki asks the sage Narada:

"Who can possibly be full of virtues in this present world?"

Narada thrusts upon him the description of a Sri Raama.

One of the descriptions he provides is in comparing Raama with Kubera.

While reading this, we were made conscious of the very ignoble way in which we ourselves think of the word Kubera. When we have occasion to use the name, we often use it as a term, in comparing someone as 'Avan Kuberan' or 'Avanu Kubera', and we allude to it singularly as someone who is possessed of wealth.

So, where is the virtue in this?

Narada, however, in emphasizing Raama with Kubera, has a message for all us. Raama the Prince is a 'prince of the heart', to be emulated by us as a model of bountiful-ness; a 'Kubera' in the distribution of his own wealth towards the welfare of people around him.

In a very refined way (and these books of human heritage are indeed so beautiful) we are pointed to the very gross ways in which we color our very own minds!

It all comes from the theater that we subscribe to!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Venu Gaana Praveene – Sikkil Sisters

To introduce the artistes we feature in this concert, we cannot do better than to quote the article that appeared in the Hindu in 2002 when they were conferred the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title by the Madras Music Academy:

"Indeed, the Sikkil sisters, as they are popularly known in the music fraternity, have perfected the `gayaki' style of playing on their musical instrument-the flute-certainly no mean achievement for, in Carnatic music unlike in the West, there are no separate scores for musical instruments. ``To us the audience is of prime importance. We sincerely try to please them. That is the aim of our music," declares the elder of the sisters, Kunjumani. An unassuming artiste, she talks, on their music, in a manner totally devoid of any frills and artifices. Her sister Neela seemed content to allow her sister to narrate their story. As Kunjumani began her narration, we travelled back in time just sixty years to the place of their birth - Sikkil, a small village in Thanjavur district.

Back home at Sikkil, the sisters plunged heart and soul into their chosen field. They gave many concerts together. They were guided in their every move, not only in their career but also in their music by their father. With careful monitoring was shaped the `style' of the Sikkil sisters. A slow and gradual revelation of the colours of the raga, well within the rules of grammar, delicate swara volleys, a firm eschewal of populist trends in classical music and with several other attributes in their music, the Sikkil sisters firmly entrenched themselves both in the hearts of the listening lay public and the discerning connoisseur. Recognition came in the form of several concert assignments both in different parts of India and abroad. As a natural corollary to their music also came awards aplenty. The earliest was the Venugana Praveena awarded to them as early as 1942, by the Mysore samsthanam. The latest is the ultimate aspiration of any musician, `Sangeeta Kalanidhi,' to be conferred on January 1, 2003."

Mysore is here again shown as a great centre for the promotion of fine arts, and the Parvathi concert by the sisters Sikkil Neela and Sikkil Kunjumani in 1976 is a feast for the ears. Two interesting aspects…we have always said that Kharaharapriya was a favourite of the Parvathi audiences. And also we have featured some great flute concerts (of Vidwans Ramani, Mahalingam and Gopalakrishnan). So the tradition continues as we feature an elaborate rendition of Chakkaniraja on the flute this time by the Sikkil Sisters.

The Concert Details
( held at at Parvathi on Aug 29, 1976 )

Sikkil Sisters (Neela and Kunjumani) ---- Flute
Mysore Nagaraj -------------- Violin
Tanjore Upendran ------------ Mridangam
M.A. Krishnamurthy -------- Ghatam

Song List
01. BrOcEvArevarurA – Khamach- Mysore Vasudevacharya*** 02. Durmargachara – Ranjani- Thyagaraja *** 03. Chakkani Rajamargamu – Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja *** 04. Baro Krishnayya – Raga Malika –Kanakadasa*** 05. uyyAlalUgavayya – Nilambari – Thyagaraja*** 06. Enna thavam seidanai – Kapi – Papanasam Sivan*** 07. Shloka – Kalyanavasantha, Darbari Kanada *** 08. Govardhana giridhara – Darbari Kanada – Narayana Thirtha***

(We regret the poor audio quality in some parts)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's all about balance - Dr. Sreevalsan Menon

Before we bring you the very fine concert by Dr. Sreevalsan Menon, we would like to provide a closure to the ‘K Puttu Rao Memorial Concert’ which ended on Sept 4, 2011, with its five day feast of grand performances , fine speeches by dignitaries and the participation of a vibrant audience. We are told that even Mother Nature brought an auspiciousness to the proceedings, in sending her proverbial rains to cool the environment .
Lighting an auspicious lamp for the arts!
While the newspapers did their just share of the reporting, we would like to reflect on what we heard and on what we can take away. A definitive thing was what India’s noted Novelist Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa alluded to in his opening remarks. Dr. Bhyrappa, has been known throughout his many monumental works to be an avid thinker on matters of “ truth” , both in our empirical world and in the metaphysical world of 'Vedanta'. He is a strong believer that human independence lies in an intellectual freedom, which can only be nurtured by strong foundations, like those laid out in the teachings of India’s rich and ancient past subscribing to many a value.
" A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, and monarchs to behold the swelling scene! " - William Shakespeare “King Henry V”
As a Blogger on Bhyrappa remarked
“ The genius of Bhyrappa’s works stems from the genius of India. Bhyrappa’s works triumph in any test because they are powerfully-creative expositions of universal values. Trying to write about SL Bhyrappa’s works is akin to trying to enclose the Sun in your fist.”
So, here is a summary of what he said:
- He asked us to pay heed to Classical Music which is on the great decline in India. - With a razor sharp deftness he distinguished what being ‘aristocratic’ meant versus what just being ‘rich’ meant. He urged people to be ‘aristocratic’, in their nature, possessing a taste in finer things such as music and in the performing arts. “Rich ones only make money”, he concluded. - Paying tribute to the memory of Sri K. Puttu Rao, he said “ those who continued to patronise music are the real lovers of music and Putturao is one amongst them,'
Now, for an actual newspaper report from amongst many reports ( click image ):
THE K. PUTTU RAO MEMORIAL CONCERT 2011 Jagan Mohan Palace, Mysore (Following text is by Sachi R. )
Dr. Sreevalsan Menon has been performing as a popular Carnatic vocalist for some years now. His guru, Shri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan had come and performed at "Parvathi" a few times. Known for his traditional classicism, often listeners would mention KVN, MDR and such heavy names while listening to Shri Vasudevan. His disciple, a doctorate in Agricultural Sciences and a well-placed officer, Dr. Sreevalsan Menon has established himself as a musician of repute in many dimensions. His range of work include Malayalam poetry, Swathi Thirunal's less known romantic compositions, and even music for a movie called My Mother's Laptop.
Dr. Sreevalsan Menon performed on September 1, 2011 in the recent Puttu Rao Memorial concert in Mysore. We bring to you an excellent recording of the entire concert. The first thing that strikes about this concert is the balance and composure in Dr. Menon's voice. It is indeed a gift to have a rich voice with a big range, no nasal twang, no tendency to loudness. And it is an additional merit to harness it with a sense of balanced aesthetics, without tricks and pyrotechnics. The concert has another dimension of balance. The violinist is the well-known Mysore Nagaraj, with his 'MSG' or 'Hindustani' flourishes. The mridangam and ghatam accompaniments are very competently handled by Tumkur Ravi Shankar and Shashi Shankar, brothers and sons of Mridanga Vidwan Shri Tumkur Bhadrachar. The recording is well balanced and brings out the mridangam bass touches as well as the sharp tonality of the violin. The concert again shows a rich balance in the repertoire presented.The Sri raga varnam by 'Garbhapurivasar', Vasudevacharya's Gowla and Abheri classics, Swathi Thirunal, Purandara Dasa...not a humdrum mix of the usual. Abheri deserves a special mention. The vocalist presents a rich tapestry in his resonant voice. The violinist responds with delectable 'shehnai' touches. The song itself is wonderful. Mr. Srikantiah recalls how Shri Vasudevachar came home and presented his new composition to Shri Puttu Rao, his friend and patron. Shri Puttu Rao was moved so much, and embraced the great composer, savouring the words 'Rajakumaram Ramam', and exclaiming how appropriate the words were. Poorvi Kalyani comes with verve and pace, the violinist getting inspiration from the vocalist to sketch its lower octave contours to much effect. And the first krithi from among the Trinity, Jnana Mosagaraada is sung with finesse. The words that Thyagaraja uses to describe Shri Rama, "Paripurna, Nishkalanka, Niravadhi Sukhadayaka" apply equally to what a well balanced music concert can do. An elaborate Enduku Peddala in Shankarabharanam follows, rounded off with Sindhu Bhairavi dasara pada and thillana. The tani between the brothers is very sonorous.
Dr. Sreevalsan Menon ----- Vocal Mysore Nagaraj ------ Violin Ravishankar --------- Mridangam Shashishankar ------ Ghatam Song List 01. Sami Ninne -Sri Raaga Varnam – Garbhapurivasar Karur Devudu Iyer *** 02. Pranamamyaham – Gowla – Vasudevachar*** 03. Sakalagrahabala – Atana – Purandara Dasa*** 04.Paramapurusha – Vasantha – Swathi Thirunal*** 05. Bhajare re Manasa – Abheri – Vasudevachar*** 06.Jnanamosaga rada – Purvi Kalyani-Thyagaraja*** 07.Enduku Peddala – Shankarabharanam- Thyagaraja*** 08. Venkatachalanilayam – Sindhu Bhairavi – Purandara Dasa*** 09. Thillana – Khamach – Patnam Subramanya Iyer*** 10. Mangalam***

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In Memoriam 2011: Sri Kunigal Puttu Rao - II

Sri K. Puttu Rao lived a mere 65 years.

‘Mere’ did we say?

(Even, the great GNB himself passed away into immortality at a young 55, when the world wanted him to rule undisputed for another half a century? So, how do you reconcile ‘mere’ with sixty five years? )

Precisely. This is why we have this helpless notion that life sometimes looks like a travesty (maybe even as a ‘Maya’, if you like). Even though sixty five is not a small age (this writer has experienced that roll-over within his own lifetime), we are forced into using the word ‘mere’ in a relative setting; as applied to a man having exhibited a powerful vitality and passion while living, only to be found plucked into sudden nothingness where you would think the health and passion he displayed would propel him towards twice the longevity!


It used to be whispered, once upon a time, in the inner circles (that exists no more), that Kunigal Puttu Rao, in his day, was a ‘very shrewd’ lawyer who earned even the respect of ‘their Lordships’. He was the consummate and committed defense lawyer whose ‘client’ could do no wrong! He was known to have taken on cases of even supposed 'undesirables' ( a subjective view held by some members of a society on anyone outside their norms ), affording them the necessary protection under the law as owed to one’s citizenry. "You are not guilty until proven!" was an ideal he bought unto his heart and profession. He would be prone to bringing friends and clients home for a celebration after winning their cases, and it would be especially hard on the part of the matriarch of the family who had her own daily 'Niyama' to attend to, but whose services would be requested at all odd hours for food and other things on the arrival of an ‘a-thithi’ ( ah, you got it right! – that welcoming, feeding and honoring of a guest, who arrives with no prior appointment! – what an added refinement to an already great civilization! ).

Did Puttu Rao not ever smile?
Perhaps not, unless you found him in the distinguished company of a
Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer or an Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar!
Could it be music? Could it be law?


What was a very deep mystery about “Parvathi”, the house that he built, was about how it ever ran! It was such a large and burgeoning household, which depended solely on just one income. Granted, K. Puttu Rao sometimes expressed the grit of a lion and his spouse, the erstwhile Parvathi (amma) no less in resilience than that of a tigress, the combined effect would yield, dominantly in no time, a large household of seven "ligers" with never ending demands associated with one's growing up; the phenomenal expenses of long term educational fees, the economics of food and clothing and transport, costs of private tutoring towards traditional language and arts, the impact of costly ceremonies to be performed as befitting each member of a traditional household, and the huge expenses that came to be associated with religious ceremonies. These would be held every other day, as determined by a crazy almanac, and culminating in invitations to a prolific number of guests, priests and entertainers.

Added to all of this was a certain ‘strange’ notion cultivated by distant family members, that the house was the equivalent of a free ‘board and lodge’ house (a veritable 'chatram'). Members would show up from distant villages, first with a customary ‘note’ from some well known family head, claiming some filial connection with an accompanying request for some ‘temporary’ shelter, till a certain justified event could be completed. These initial short stays however always happened to get recycled, to the point where after a while, the person would be found to have happily ensconced themselves 'as a member' with now a stronger case than ever. There were also other 'member(s)' established under a natural duress, such as a widowed lady unable to support herself or a lady having been abandoned by a husband, or an orphan girl, whom the family came by in compassion, who had to be included as family till such time as she could be given away in marriage, or into another pasture of safe custody.


Earlier, on many an occasion, we spoke of Sri. K. Puttu Rao's abiding passion for music and in his being at home to several stalwarts of Carnatic Music ( click ). We now add to that ever growing list, memories of some other stars in the CM firmament who graced "Parvathi" during his lifetime:

Immortal G.N.Balasubramaniam (GNB) in the house !
(click on photo to magnify)

Immortal Duo!
Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and Palghat Mani Iyer
in the House !
(click on photo to magnify)

Immortals Manakkal Rangarajan and T. Chowdiah in the House !
(click on photo to magnify)


Puttu Rao was known to be a strict disciplinarian, especially with his sons and his staff. Somewhere, however, over the years, people realized that while there might be that quick temper and a bark to the man, there was also the outer shell with a whole lot given to a softer side. This would be noticed, particularly during certain events and in its calculated moments. While pictures in the house, sometimes revealed an Oldsmobile, a Dodge Kingfisher or a Chevy Impala over the years, it would not be uncommon to find Mr. K. Puttu Rao trudging many a time on foot to and fro from Court.

At times, one would find him in a ‘tonga’, too, doing a back and forth from Mysore's great Devaraja market, with its myriad stalls of fruits or its beautiful stalls of sweet smelling Jasmine flowers. From here, he would invariably pick up beautiful hair adorning for his large retinue of daughters-in-law with whom he was ever conscious of doing the right thing in making them integrate seamlessly into his own family. He would even be seen, as the 'tonga' waited, at the cloth emporiums of Mysore’s main thoroughfare on Sayaji Rao Road, where he would indulge in some of his fancies; where he would pick up select pieces of cloth hoping for the benefit of a customized tailoring of immaculate shirts and coats that he wore with aplomb on himself. He would also be seen ordering rich blouse material (the 'Khanas') for all the Gods and the women folk of his own family. The whole thing would prove to be nothing more than a fanciful charade into an evening's outing; he would concoct an elaborate 'scheme' of seeming to tuck away all his treasures into some hidden compartments from preening eyes, only to realize, once again, the inevitable! It would all vanish, in no time, without nary a sign of the actual culprit (or culprits) ever being found from within that large contingent of humans that dwelt in that house.

M.L.Vasanthakumari was always regarded as 'family' !
Seen with Puttu Rao's pride - the daughters-in-law !
(Is there a young Sudha Raghunathan, too,somewhere there?)

Puttu Rao's zest for life, as we have indicated before, was not confined to just music and musicians alone, or on being God fearing to one's daily propitiation's. He was fiercely loyal and prone to take on various challenges of a social order, in order to do good. He worked with Mysore's several institutions and committees; with Mysore's City Cooperative Bank, Mysore Cooperative Society and many of its charitable Housing projects. He loved to battle in order to save institutions. Notable amongst these was the institution (pictures below) of which he was once both its Secretary and its President. He saved it from many a lender's hand, providing some deft legal maneuvering, but ironically died the very next day, after the courts had moved in his favor!

Bidarama Krishnappa Rama Mandiram in it's 'heydey' !

Its once pristine interiors - Courtesy: The Hindu

As we leave you with the memory of a man in whose lifetime, there was a great 'cause celebre' for the heritage of Carnatic Music, we remind you of the concerts in his honor that commence on Aug 31, 2011 in Mysore.

As with the tradition of our blog, we would also like to leave you with some music. What better than a video presentation of Padma Bhushan and Sangeeta Kalanidhi T.V.Sankaranarayanan (who will be casting his magic on the last day of the memorial concert), performing as he did twenty five years before! in "Parvathi", the house that K. Puttu Rao built and where he bequeathed his last!

Vidwan T.V. Shankaranarayanan is shown accompanied by Vidwans G.J.R. Krishnan (violin), M.A.K Murthy (Ghatam) and incidentally Vellore Ramabhadran who accompanied him first in his (TVS's) memorable debut on February 2, 1968!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Memoriam 2011: Kunigal Puttu Rao - 1

The son, Mr. K. Srikantiah, is the direct and last surviving relative of Sri K. Puttu Rao and is, by himself, well into the Octogenarian years.

You would think, at his age, that Mr. Srikantiah would choose the comfort of a quiet life nestling mostly with one's own grandchildren. But, no, that’s not for him. He has soaked up Carnatic Music (CM) all his life, with its world of great composers and artists like no other. He is what you call a living encyclopedia to all of CM’s hallowed memories. So, what does such a person do? He dives in again, into that same world where he once lived supreme; he wants to work in that same universe of music’s joys and share the rewards of that joy freely with everyone. This time he wants to do it with a difference. He feels, he owes everything in life to the memory of a father. It is his ‘tarpanam’ to a hallowed name. He now wants to invite the world to a musical sequence of five days in the company of some great maestros, to the redoubtable sanctuary of the famous Jagan Mohan Palace of Mysore.

The venue is a 150 year old Palace!
The coronation of H.H. Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV
was held here in 1902.
The Viceroy and Governor-General of India,
Lord Curzon, too, attended that ceremony.

So, here is Mr. Srikantiah's invitation. Please find it issued to all of our gentle readers who may find themselves in Mysore, from August 31 to September 4, 2011, and lucky enough to find a seat in the auditorium.

( click on photo to magnify )

Mr. Srikantiah has chosen some eminent and elderly names, to preside over this occasion. They are India's, Karnataka's and Mysore's very distinguished sons such as Dr. SL Bhyrappa who is regarded as one of India's most powerful and award winning novelists in the last twenty five years. Joining him are Mr. Krishna Vattam, another powerful journalistic voice for over six decades whom we have mentioned before in our blog. The third distinguished member to grace the opening is none other than revered Mr. M.A. Sampath Iyengar Esq. President Emeritus of Mysore's famous National Institute of Engineering (NIE) Rounding up the group, will be another distinguished personality, Mr. K.B. Ganapathy, Law Graduate and Founder of Mysore's famous newspapers, Star of Mysore and the Mysore Mithra.

Our salutations to all four of them and to the very distinguished artists !

( click on photo to magnify )

Mr. Srikantiah, wants to open with none other than the Indian Mandolin Prodigy U. Srinivas. In a lot of ways, Sri. Srikantiah admires Srinivas, not only for the artiste’s genius but for his rare humility (“God has given him everything! Yet, look at that grace and respect towards others, particularly towards elders! ”). We have remarked elsewhere in our blog, that Srinivas first came to the attention of Mr. Srikantiah at a tender, shy age of nine. He came many a time afterwards to perform in “Parvathi”.

This is U. Shrinivas (video below) performing an enthralling piece in “Parvathi”, in 1985, at a youthful age of 16!

Before that, we bring you the viewpoint of our own brilliant 'Rasika' R.Sachi on this segment of the music.

"August brings the start of famous Indian festivals. The incomparable story of Krishna's birth, in a prison at midnight amidst a monsoon deluge, is the basis of a big celebration. Soon comes the month of Bhaadrapada, with the sun starting to peep out of dark monsoon clouds. And on Chaturthi, the fourth day, the ever-delightful god of auspicious starts, Lord Ganesha, is installed and worshipped by the devout. This is tellingly pictured by Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar in the hugely popular song, Siddhi Vinayakam in Shanmukhapriya. The raga, the lyric, and the tempo always kindle a concert and take it to great heights. Dikshitar's songs like Siddhi Vinayakam and Vatapi Ganapathim are very popular, but musicians know how difficult it is to do justice to them, replete as they are with lyrical grandeur, musical richness and a taut tempo. Especially for instruments, they are always a challenge.

So consider this on the mandolin. A bubbling teenager cast a spell with this opening piece 25 years ago in Parvathi. We are happy to share this video with you, of the grand opening by Mandolin Shrinivas. The accompanists look absolutely delighted, especially Sri Vellore Ramabhadran.

The song itself is noteworthy in describing how sattvic are the worshipers of Lord Ganesha. After all, he is totally bereft of violent temper and desire ( raudrabhAva rahitam dAsa janahRdaya virAjitam rauhiNEyAnujArccitam IhanA varjitam )".

Friday, August 12, 2011

God as the ultimate Rasika - Vidwan M.D. Ramanathan

“Oh Lord, without You, how can Thyagaraja sing the song of your gunas?”.. this is the burden of the wonderful Athana song Narada Gana Lola. All aesthetic endeavour is an expression of our response to the beauty of creation. Amongst all arts, music is called the highest human expression. William Shakespeare said, “To know the cause why music was ordain'd! Was it not to refresh the mind of a man after his studies or his usual pain?” In other words, music is the ultimate antidote to human difficulties or intellectual fatigue. Here, on the other hand, Thyagaraja says that all the miseries of our existence can be sublimated into worship by singing of the Lord’s glories. And by calling Him “Narada Gana Lola”, Thyagaraja has indicated God’s musical preferences. Narada was the Lord’s most ardent and musically gifted devotee. In many ways the Parvathi festival typified the attitude of the devotee. No commercialism. Pure music, devoutly offered by the best musicians of the era, to an eager set of rasikas in a setting created with much ardour by the family of Parvathi.

This time we are happy to offer excerpts (1 hr: 20 mins) from MDR’s 1974 concert: Concert Details Vocal M.D.Ramanathan Violin M. Chandrasekharan Mridangam Vellore Ramabhadran Khanjira H.P Ramachar on April 7, 1974 at Parvathi (excerpts only) Song List 01. Rama Nipai – Kedaram – Thyagaraja *** 02. Narada Gana Lola – Athana – Thyagaraja *** 03. Janani Ninnuvina – Reeti Gowla – Subbaraya Shastri ***

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New age, new star - Vidushi Sudha Raghunathan

Even from early '80s, a young student of MLV used to feature along with her on the "Parvathi" concert stage in 'pinpaattu'. Educated in Bangalore with an MA in Economics, she went on to become a big draw in Carnatic music, carrying on the tradition of MLV's style with her presence and musical impact. She is now a reigning star. Vidushi Sudha Ragunathan is proudly featured this time, from her 1996 concert.

Much material about this artiste can be gleaned on the Internet. Subbudu, the famous critic is quoted as having written that if he ever were to be marooned on an island, his wish would be to be able to listen to a cassette of Sudha's music!

"Parvathi" Concert March 30, 1996

01. Sami ninne - Shankarabharana varna - Veena Kuppaiyar *** 02. Varavallabha Ramana - Hamsadhwani - G.N. Balasubramaniam*** 03. Jaya jaya - Naata - Purandaradasa*** 04. Sadinchane - Aarabhi pancharatna - Thyagaraja *** 05. Saarame gaani - Pantuvarali - Thyagaraja *** 06. Marugelara - Jayanthashri- Thyagaraja *** 07. Sogasugaa - Shriranjani - Thyagaraja *** 08. Sudhaamayi - Amritavarshini - Muthiah Bhagavathar *** 09. Raama kathaa sudhaa- Madhyamavati- Thyagaraja *** 10. Venkataachala nilayam - Sindhubhairavi - Purandaradasa *** 11. Brahmam Okate - Bowli - Annamacharya *** 12. Ramanamame - Desh - Tanjavur Shankara Iyer *** 13. Aaneyu karedare Suladi- Hamsanandi, Shahana, Shivaranjani- Purandaradasa + Yamanelli Kaananendu - Shivarajani - Purandaradasa *** 14. Thillana - Hamir Kalyani - ? *** 15. Mangalam

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thyagaraja's Faith in Sri Rama – Vidwan K.V. Narayanaswamy

The House of Sankalpa "Parvathi", Mysore, congratulates Vidwan Trichy Shankaran for winning the "Sangeeta Kalanidhi" award for 2011

The Parvathi Ramanavami festival started in 1970. Its inspiration for the Chowdiah Memorial that later came up in Bangalore is documented in this blog elsewhere. In that watershed year, many glorious concerts were held in Parvathi in memory of Sangeetha Rathna Chowdiah. The concert we feature here is one such gem, with stalwarts KVN, V. Sethuramiah, Trichy Sankaran, H.P. Ramachar and Mysore Manjunath.

Vidwan K.V. Narayanaswamy, whose name comes up every time we discuss the great Carnatic musicians of the last 60 years, has done exemplary service to the spirit of the Ramanavami festival in this concert. Every song is a masterpiece of music and devotional excellence.

The Pantuvarali song Ninne nera nammi nanura, sung with gusto, translates thus ( taken from The Spiritual Heritage of Tygaraja) :

From my early days, convinced that everything in the world is unreal, I have placed my implicit faith in you and you alone, Oh Rama! I have seen people learned in Vedas, Sastras and Puranas stand bewildered at the undetermined religious controversies. I have seen people roam restlessly performing Yagas passionately for worldly enjoyments. I have come to the conclusion that unless one obtains your grace, one cannot thrive in life in this world.

The saint composer states in Evarani:

I prostrate to those wise ones who combined the spirit of the two mantras viz. Ma from Shiva Panchakshari, and Ra from Narayana Ashtakshari and arrived at your blessed name “Rama”.

He goes on in Mokshamu galada:

Is it possible for one who is devoid of real devotion and knowledge of divine music, to attain salvation?

The concert has three stellar compositions – Pakkala Nilabadi in Kharaharapriya, Sri Subrahmanyaaya in Kambhoji, and Brochevaarevarura in Khamach. KVN delivers his trademark punches in the neraval and swara cycles in each song, replete with laya gymnastics, glides and curls around key musical phrases.

Maestro Sankaran's long career as a professor in Canada has limited his appearances in India somewhat to the December festivals (which he compares to the Olympics). This great artiste has made a unique contribution to Carnatic music over so many decades now. Vidwan Sankaran's mastery over the 'naada' of the mridangam as well as the art of accompaniment is in full flow in this concert.

Vidwan Sethuramiah's seven stringed violin accompaniment respectfully invokes the presence of his guru and rounds off this concert as a true tribute to T. Chowdiah, the epochal star of Carnatic music.

The Concert Details

K.V.Narayanaswamy ---- Vocal
V.Sethuramiah ----------- Violin
Trichy Shankaran -------- Mridangam
K.S.Manjunath ----------- Ghatam
H.P.Ramachar ------------ Khanjira
On 23 - 4 - 1970 at Parvathi.

Song List

01. Evarani – Devamruthavarshini – Thyagaraja *** 02. Ninne nera nammi – Pantuvarali – Thyagaraja *** 03. Pakkala Nilabadi – Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja *** 04. Mokshamu galada – Saramathi – Thyagaraja *** 05. Sri Subrahmanyaaya – Kambhoji – Muthuswami Dikshithar *** 06. Brochevarevarura – Khamach – Mysore Vasudevachar ***.

(PS: We regret the vagaries of tape speed in this 41-year old recording.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The vidwat of harnessing the voice – Vidwan Tanjore S. Kalyanaraman

The GNB school has made a huge impact on Carnatic music. Frequent references are made in our circles to GNB's unique style and impact, his star disciples like MLV, and the briga-laden stylistics that are the inspiration of many an upcoming singer. In this context stands out a gifted musician, who added to the GNB style his own unique aesthetics, providing an eloquent direction to the youngsters who want to cultivate manodharma sangeetha instead of rattling off songs in quick succession.

Tanjore S. Kalyanaraman (1930-1994) whom we are privileged to feature in this concert, was a musician's musician. His music carries a freshness and charm. Singers and rasikas alike search avidly for his recordings. He had a grand design to his method, and his voice culture was a key to his success. We can glean from Internet resources details of this master musician's musical journey.

Before we list the concert details, let us share a quote from someone who has written about Kalyanaraman:

Quote (Mr. S. I. Krishnamachari of Woodridge, IL., USA )

He was a researcher, singer, composer, teacher, unrelenting learner, vainika, whistler and a teacher of violin too. To this date, he represents (what) one can do to ply one's own voice and be the ring-master of his own music. Intellect, analysis and faith in classical values were the characteristics of his music. Taught first by his father, and later by none less than GNB himself, he acquired a singing style and personality for himself. Awards and recognition eluded him. Nonetheless, other musicians and the modern- minded rasikas always saw him as a star on par with GNB himself. There are a few in the profession who believe that his Sangeetha Kalanidhi award was long overdue.

He was an expert on voice culturing. Realizing that traditional methods of voice culture would not work for him, given his congenital heart and respiratory problems, he had to develop one of his own.


We also give you a link to a documentary : Sunadha Vinodhan S. Kalayanaraman

Carnatic music is blessed to have these path-breaking innovators. They bring a new meaning to creativity within the context of classicism. In this concert, we have a fair measure of rare compositions and masterly raga expositions e.g. Dharmavathi and Kambhoji. MSG and Karaikudi Mani along with H.P. Ramachar have added their bit to make this concert truly memorable. Karaikudi Mani, whom we feature for the first time in this blog, has provided masterly accompaniment in the Kambhoji Pallavi. It seems the mridangam is singing the pallavi as much as the voice and the violin.

The Meera bhajan, set to music by Kalayanaraman, expresses his creative mindset well. He had done original work in the area of dwi-madhyama ragas.

The details of the concert:

S.Kalyanaraman ------ Vocal
Parur M.S. Gopalakrishnan --- Violin
Karaikudi Mani -------- Mridangam
H.P.Ramachar ------ Khanjira
at Parvathi Ramanavami Festival on April 20, 1973

Song list

01. Jaya Jaya – Nata – Purandaradasa*** 02. Makelara – Ravichandrika – Thyagaraja *** 03. Gajavadana – Gowla – Purandaradasa*** 04. Paramapavana Rama – Purvi Kalyani – Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar*** 05. Ninnu Nera – Devamanohari-Muthiah Bhagavathar*** 06. Kanda – Dharmavathi – Koteeshwara Iyer*** 07. Nenarunchi Nanu -malavi-Thyagaraja*** 08. Ragam Tanam Pallavi Kambhoji (Ragamalika Ranjani, Kunthalavarali, Nayaki, Gangeyabhushani, Hamsanandi) *** 09. Koovi Azhaithal – Valachi – Valee*** 10. Hari gun gaavath – Dipali – Meerabai*** 11. Saapashyat Kausalya – Jonpuri – Panchapakesha Shastri*** 12.Mangalam

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Musical Downpour called Madurai Somu

Our blog rasikas have already rejoiced in two full concerts we have posted before, of Vidwan Madurai Somasundaram from the '70s. Simply put, come spring and summer, Mysore waited for Somu, or in other words a downpour. And Mysore is known for its early showers around Ramanavami, showers that cool down the whole town and instil a sense of well-being in people. Like the proverbial peacock whose dance heralds rain, Vidwan Somu invariably brought rain with his music at Parvathi. It was perhaps an example of what Karl Jung called synchronocity, the experience of two or more events, that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner.
We think the best way to describe Somu's music is to call it a musical downpour. The way rain builds up, from a patter to a drizzle to a downpour and finally a roar. Music that floods our consciousness like an overflowing Cauvery. Momentarily we forget the raga, the song, the tala, and experience the pure joy of musical expression. His voice may be husky, his words may be indistinct, his phrases may be sporadic. Yet the music takes us to a different plane. We experience this at many places in the current concert (1973). We must warn you that the actual downpour (=rain) that day disrupted the recording many times and therefore you get to hear only a truncated version. There are some gems nevertheless. Evarani, Ragasudharasa, and a lovely Kalyani. Both Lalgudi Jayaraman (a bow that stresses its beauteous presence like Mysore jasmine) and Palghat Raghu (what a stamp of emphatic percussion!) have given superb accompaniment in the concert, and Kalyani brings it all together uniquely. Apparently it was Somu's own composition in Kalyani, wrought in Trishra Nadai, full of evocative words to worship the mother goddess: Paradevathe Sowbhagyavathi Maam Pahi Rajarajeshwari Kalyani Surasevithe Sukumari Gowri Aravinda nayani Atmarupini Karakamali Kamani Katyayani Chamundeshwari Amba Chandrakaladhari Sringerivase Vagaeeshwari Shyamakrishnasodari
The Concert Details Madurai Somasundaram ---- Vocal Kazhugumalai Kandaswamy ----- Vocal Support Lalgudi Jayaraman-------Violin Palghat Raghu-------------Mridangam Vinayakram--------Ghatam On April 11, 1973 at Ramanavami Festival, Parvathi. Song List 01-Mahaganesham-Jaganmohini-TBD-I *** 02-Pranavaswaroopa-Triveni-TBD *** 03-Krupajuchutaku-Chayatharangini-Thyagaraja *** 04-Paradevathe-Kalyani-TBD *** 05-Evarani-Devamruthavarshini- Thyagaraja*** 06-Ragasudharasa-Andolika-Thyagaraja *** 07-Raga-Kharaharapriya-I *** 08-Marudamalai-Darbarikanada-TBD *** 09-Bhajore Bhayya-Desh,Mand-Kabir *** 10-Nadabindu-Jinjhuti-Arunagirinathar *** 11-Elloru Varingal -continued *** 12-Rajarajeshwari Stotra-Ragamalika *** 13-Pavamana-Saurashtram-Thyagaraja ***
(I – Incomplete, TBD – to be determined) ( Please Note: The player does not roll over to the next piece of music. You may have to do it manually by clicking the right arrow )

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Parvathi" Videos: Sangeetha Kalanidhi D.K. Jayaraman and Vidwan Vidyabhushan Swami

We have been, till now, providing you with audio concerts and showing you rare and still photographs of "Parvathi", Mysore, infusing you with memories of a great era in our Carnatic music heritage.

Now, for the first time, we attempt to do the same by showing you views of some of the great concerts in video snippets.


April 8, 1985

For our very first video, we offer you a very soulful artist, none other than Sri Vidyabhushan Thirtha. Back then, he was a Swamiji affiliated with the Subrahmanya Matha. Having been blessed both with the vocal chords and the inspired heart of a great devotee, he cast many a spell all over southern India, on the several that thronged to hear his music in 'bhakti'. We present to you his first performance in "Parvathi". Even though sick at the time of the concert and being treated for fever by an ENT professor/doctor from Mysore's famous Krishna Rajendra (KR) hospital, he refused any obligatory rest and stepped onto the podium to provide one of the most thrilling of performances in front of what was a mammoth crowd that day.

And, who were his accompanists? None other than Mysore's Vidwan Nagaraj (Violin), Vidwan Erode Gururajan (Mridangam) and the redoubtable Ghatam Vidwan Bangalore Venkataram.

Though he relinquished the Sanyasa Ashrama, at a later stage, and entered the 'Grihastha' (family) life, Sri Vidyabhushan still continues to provide rave concerts in devotion, even to this day.

Memories, only Memories

Release of M.S.Subbalakshmi's Biography by T.J.S. George

[ L to R: India's former Union Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, Chowdiah Memorial 'visionary' K.K. Murthy, India's current External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna , author T.J.S. George ]
[ Courtesy : The Hindu ]

K.Srikantiah honoring eminent Mrudanga Vidwan T.K. Murthy in "Parvathi"

[ Rasikas will remember him accompanying M.S. Subbalakshmi in our 1967 concert posting. Vidwan Murthy graced the podium innumerable times in "Parvathi". ]


April 7, 1985

The irony with our featured artist Sangeetha Kalanidhi Vidwan D.K. Jayaraman, here, is that he came to "Parvathi", first, all by himself, and it is only after stealing the hearts of all the Rasikas did he lay the stage to accompanying his ever famous sister, Sangeetha Kalanidhi Vidushi D.K. Pattamal onto the "Parvathi" platform.

As Rasikas will recognize, he is accompanied here by the redoubtable triumvirate of M.Chandrsekharan (Violin), Tanjore Upendran (Mridangam)and once again, Bangalore Venkataram (Ghatam). You will see what their unified zest does to the ambiance, and why Vidwan DKJ was such a favorite of the cognoscenti! You will also get to hear parts of a rare Kambhoji piece "Sriraghuvaraaprameya".

Vidwan MannarGudi Easwaran being presented with the "K.Puttu Rao - Palghat Mani" Award
[ Courtesy : Percussive Arts Center, Bangalore ]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Worship through music – Dr. N. Ramani

[ Courtesy: Lokabhiramam ]

The concert we feature this time is from Dr. Ramani, a perennial favourite with the rasikas in Parvathi, Mysore. The concert held during Ramanavami festival in 1974 features also the redoubtable M.S. Gopalakrishnan on violin, Tanjore Upendran on the mridangam and Mysore Manjunath on the ghatam.

The concert starts off with the Begade varna and then moves to a splendid rendition of the Sriranjani krithi from Papanasam Sivan, “Gajavadana Karunasadana”.

It is our tradition to begin all auspicious activities by paying obeisance to Ganesha and seeking his blessings for a successful endeavour without impediments. Papanasam Sivan has taken this prayer to a higher level in his song. He says therein that Ganesha is the spiritual preceptor and will show the way to liberation through conferring devotion and spiritual insight (Shivaagama). In other words, the popular deity is not just one to confer worldly success but one who shows the way to the ultimate goal of life. If we take our song and prayer to that level, we not only enjoy the wonderful music of a krithi but also progress towards life's ultimate goal. That is true worship through music.

Ramani has given us a memorable rendition of this Sriranjani krithi, one of the famous compositions of the “Tamil Thyagayya” Papanasam Sivan.

The next krithi, with a brisk tempo, is in Chakravakam. After exhausting our resources, we approached an expert and friend, Shri Shailesh Ramamurthy. He painstakingly researched all sources and finally found the krithi and its notation in the Tamil magazine Swadeshamithran dated 3 April 1955. It is a krithi of Mysore Vasudevachar! Talk of 'the butterfly effect'... Our profuse thanks to this rasikottama. In the process our listeners have a chance to hear a rare krithi of a master composer in Chakravakam.

The concert progresses to lofty musical levels in Charukeshi and Mohana. In Mohana, one of Ramani's favourite ragas, the music unfolds with a multi-faceted splendour. Ramani, and MSG, by turn, charm the listener. Upendran plays with much zest in the song that follows, Nanu Palimpa, one of the immortal krithis of Thyagaraja. We share in the vivid experience of the saint as he describes how he is overwhelmed by the blessed vision of Rama and Sita.

After Nadaloludai in Kalyana Vasantham, Ramani takes up Kambhoji for Ragam Thanam Pallavi. The raga is presented majestically in a very gayaki style that harks back to the grand masters of yore. His sedate and lustrous alapana is responded to in kind by MSG. The emotive weight of the raga is manifest in both presentations.

There are generous touches of Hindustani music from MSG... for that matter even from Ramani, in many places. Mohana, Abhogi and Behag stand out...

The Concert

N.Ramani --- Flute
M.S.Gopalakrishnan --- Violin
Tanjore Upendran --- Mridangam
K.S.Manjunath --- Ghatam

held during Ramanavami festival on April 4, 1974 at Parvathi

01. Inta Chala – Begade Varna – Veena Kuppaiyer *** 02. Gaja Vadana – Sriranjani – Papanasam Sivan *** 03. Neranammithi Neevegathi - Chakravakam – Mysore Vasudevachar *** 04. Niravadhi Sukhada – Ravichandrika – Thyagaraja *** 05. Aada Modi Galada – Charukeshi – Thyagaraja *** 06. Nanu Palimpa – Mohana – Thyagaraja *** 07. Nada Loludai – Kalyana Vasantham – Thyagaraja *** 08. Ragam- Thanam – Pallavi – Kambhoji + Raga Malika (Varali – Sama- Abhogi-Behag) *** 09. Saravanabhava – Shanmukhapriya – Papanasam Sivan *** 10. Magudi *** 11. Bhajan – Bageshree *** 12. Thillana – Dhanashree – Swathi Thirunal ***

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Music's Lady Virtuoso : M. L. Vasanthakumari

A lady musician, just 26, was conferred the title Sangeeta Vani in Madras in 1954. Her accomplishments were worthy of being recognised at a function graced by some of the greatest music exponents of that era including Rajamanickam Pillai, Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer, T.L. Venkatarama Iyer, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, C. Saraswathi Bai, K. B. Sundarambal, and M.M. Dandapani Desikar; and connoisseurs like Dr. R. Krishnaswami, Dr. U. Krishna Rao and finally the Chief Minister C. Rajagopalachari. That lady virtuoso was none other than Dr. M. L. Vasanthakumari or MLV.

[ Courtesy: South Asian Woman's Forum ]

MLV went on to win many more laurels including the Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1977 as the youngest woman recipient till now (49). Among the legion of her fans, her acronym was expanded also as Melody-Laya-Vidwat. MLV was born into a musical family, but during those difficult times, she needed strong encouragement from a musical celebrity like GNB to dare choose a career in music. That she became his most famous disciple is the stuff of legend.

MLV's mother Madras Lalithangi once met a saint visiting from Karnataka who initiated her into the rich treasure of Purandara Dasa kritis. It made such an impact on her that Lalithangi and her guru-husband Mr. Iyer spent all their fortune to bring out a compilation of kritis, “Sri Purandara Mani Malai” during the difficult times of World War II. It was Life's way of honouring the family's unremitting efforts that MLV was conferred a doctorate by Mysore University in 1976 for her contribution to the propagation of Dasa Sahitya.

MLV was much loved and honoured in Parvathi. She performed there many times. In 1971 she was honoured along with Mysore V. Doreswamy Iyengar and the function was followed by a brilliant MLV concert. We are privileged to offer that recording here.

[ Mr.M.S.Swaminathan IAS, Divisional Commissioner of Mysore, Presides ]
[ Sangeetha Natak Academy Award Winners felicitated in "Parvathi" 1971 ]
[ Dr. M.L. Vasanthakumari and Vidwan Doreswamy Iyengar ]

The concert itself is remarkable on many counts. Following an emphatic rendering of Begada -something rare from a lady vocalist, MLV proceeds with a wonderful Kalyani. There are many moments of explosive creativity in the rendering. The kriti Rama Ni Vadukonduvo is a rarely heard Thyagaraja piece in Trishra Nadai, and it is a feast. Then comes an elaborate Bhairavi RTP. Add to that a Pancharatna kriti and some splendid Devaranamas, and you have a quintessential hallmark concert with the stamp of MLV's musical genius. It is doubly satisfying to feel the camaraderie and virtuous collaboration from the violin and mridangam accompanists. The ensemble's delightful musical journey is akin to a joyous family's travelling in good old times on Chamundi Express from Bangalore to Mysore, savouring every tasty treat and scenic delight on the way. What a blessing indeed!

The Concert
Ramanavami Concert - 8 -4- 1971.

M.L. Vasanthakumari – Vocal
T.M. Prabhavathi – Vocal Support
Tiruvallur Subramanyam – Violin
Tanjavur Krishnamurthy Rao – Mridangam
? - Ghatam

01. Vanajaaksha- Mandari varnam – Mysore Vasudevachar*** 02. Pranamaamyaham- Gowla- Mysore Vasudevachar*** 03. Jagadaanandakaaraka – Naata Pancharatna – Thyagaraja *** 04. Laalisidalu magana – Aarabhi – Purandara dasa *** 05. Shankari neeve – Begade- Subbaraya Shastri *** 06. Raaka Sashivadana - Raga Takka – Thyagaraja *** 07. Rama Ni Vadukonduvo – Kalyani – Thyagaraja *** 08. Mariyaadagaadayya – Bhairavam – Thyagaraja *** 09. Bhairavi RTP + Bauli-Saama-Kiranaavali ragamalika *** 10. Shloka and Yaadavaraaya- Basant Bahar-SindhuBhairavi-Durga –Kanaka Dasa *** 11. Uga Bhoga, Yaake Nirdayanaadeyo – Ragamalika (Bhairav, Kalavati, Bhimplas) – Purandara Dasa *** 12. 12. Vaame Bhoomisuthaa – Shloka – Hamsanandi, Saveri, Shubhapantuvaraali, Suruti *** 13. Dhanashri Tillana – Swathi Thirunal *** 14. Mangalam


Even after so many years, her name brings a hush in the "Parvathi" household. It is a hush caused by reflection on so many beautiful and personable moments of her having been there. There is even one, that includes her coaxing family members to join her in singing (yes, there are some recordings of that too!).

So we egged on, someone, who was almost like a daughter to her. Here are the words of 'that' daughter, captured solemnly:

"What really can I add to the things that have already been said? She was everything to me! I have but only very fond memories of 'dear MLV aunty'.

When I was a child, she would almost, always , bring me the gift of a beautiful doll, an expensive frock, or some such thing whenever we visited each others homes.

Later on as I grew up and started to sing, after each of her concerts in "Parvati", and as we used to relax, she would invariably ask me to sing old Lata Mangeshkar's songs. She would appreciate them so much, that she would ask me to sing more and more. She would make me feel as if I was on top of the world!

I also cannot forget the affectionate, encouraging and appreciative words that she spoke during my cassette release function.

Personally, I put her in the number one spot amongst carnatic vocalists. What 'shaareera' ! What gamakas! What ease with which she sang! and what creativity!, be it 'alapana', 'neraval', 'swaraprastara' or 'sloka'!


I was sitting listening to that very same Karaharapriya which is posted on this blog, when we got the news that she was no more.

Above all, what a fine human being she was! Never spoke a harsh or ill word about anyone. She lived just for the sake of her art.

These few words of mine are just MY VERY HUMBLE OBEISANCE to this great soul... "

- Mysore Prabha


Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Where is your abode?" - Vidwan Maharajapuram Santhanam

Imagine that you ask someone, “Sir, where are you from?” And he replies: “I was born in the land of kings.'' A great start to a conversation about credentials!

It so happens that one can translate the name Maharajapuram Santhanam to mean 'one born in the land of kings'. Once you have a name like that, its a big task to live up to. With Vidwan Santhanam's music, you feel his music reflects the regality in his name. Vidwan Santhanam was the son and disciple of Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer, a monarch in the world of Carnatic music. Hailed in his time as first among equals, he ruled supreme on the concert stage. People to this day recollect his incomparable renderings of ragas like Mohana and Mukhari, and his explosive creativity.

[ Courtesy Carnaticdurbar.com ]

Vidwan Santhanam, whose scintillating concert at Parvathi we have already featured several months ago, is our artiste again this time.

Vidwan Santhanam came into his own in the '70s, after his father's demise. He rose in popularity for his resonant and sweet voice, his great stamina, and the ability to please audiences with engaging, happy music. He put his trade-mark on songs such as “Srichakraraja Simhasaneshwari”and “Narayana”. He was conferred the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title in 1989. The music world lost him prematurely - he died in a car accident in 1992.

In this concert, in the company of the ever-excellent Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Santhanam presents E Tavunnara in Kalyani. This song is popular for a long time and makes an instant connection with the listener. Like so many other songs of Saint Thyagaraja, this song also has several layers of meaning.

The meaning given in the Spiritual Heritage of Tyagaraja is this: “Which is your place of abode? You are not easily to be found, however closely you are searched for.

Is it in the feminine forms of the deity like Sita, Gouri and Saraswati or is it in the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether or in the innumerable worlds or among the Trinity?”

To this writer, the song unveils three layers of God's presence in one's spiritual discovery. The first layer, encountered through the stirrings of bhakti, is that of grace. The mother goddess personifies grace through benign protection (Durga), the gift of intelligence (Saraswati) and prosperity (Lakshmi). After passing this phase of basking in God's grace, the aspirant starts to experience God's immanence: His all-pervading presence in this world, finally composed of the five elements. As Krishna says in the seventh chapter of the Gita, prakriti personifies Him. But the bhakta's journey finally takes him to the point when God is pure transcendence- all this and more. The ultimate conceptualisation of God in Hinduism is that of Trinity- the Creator Brahma, the Protector Vishnu, and the Destroyer Shiva. This song is just one way of saying that for a true bhakta like Thyagaraja, Lord Rama is grace, immanence and transcendence all combined.

Come, let us now enjoy the feast of music from Vidwan Santhanam, in the Ramanavami festival of Parvathi 1979.

The Concert

Maharajapuram Santhanam ------Vocal
Lalgudi Jayaraman ------------ Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran -------- Mridangam
M.A. Krishnamurthy ----------- Ghatam
on April 5, 1979 at Parvathi during Ramanavami.

Song List
01. Orajoopu – Kannadagowla – Thyagaraja *** 02. E tavunara – Kalyani – Thyagaraja *** 03. Haridasulu – Yamuna Kalyani – Thyagaraja *** 04. Ragam- Tanam – Pallavi – raga Kharaharapriya *** 05. Narayana - Shuddha Dhanyasi – Purandara Dasa ***

This Yamuna Kalyani is the version other than the version employed in the famous Krishna Nee Begane).

Red Flag: Embedded audio player not picking correct song names


The mere roll of names like Maharajapuram Santhanam, Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer, The Bidarama Krishnappa Rama Mandiram, Mysore Vasudevachar, HH Jayachamrajendra Wodeyar, and "Parvathi", and all of it in one breath, stands to create a huge welter of emotions. For, it presents a world of great charms once beheld, of a world of kings and courts and composers and gentle Musical strains, not just Carnatic, mind you, but a far flung one with inroads, too, into a European culture.

Through a few collections, some ours and some from the other great souls of erstwhile Mysuru (as found on the Internet), we connect you to a grand era, which with each day's passing seems to roll away from our eyes into an indistinguishable distance.

From 1970 we show you (below), the very popular Chief Minister of Karnataka D. Devaraj Urs, alongside Mr. K. Srikantiah, unveiling the photograph of Mysore Vasudevachar in "Parvathi".

[ D. Devaraj Urs, Chief Minister, Karnataka ]
[ 1972 to 1977 and 1978 to 1980 ]

Somewhere in the 1930's, Vasudevachar found one of his compositions being extolled by the father of our featured artist, Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer who started to render Vasudevacharya's kriti- 'Brochevarevarura' in Khamas in his concerts. Vasudevacharya, who happened to be at one of the concerts was noted to have remarked to Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer "My composition like a simple girl was metamorphosed into a beautiful damsel. That is how well you beautified the composition with your embellishments"
[Text Courtesy: Hummaa ]

One of Mysore's greatests gifts, however, was a handsome king, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyer. Handsome, perhaps, in every way including his extraordinary patronage of Music.

He was a connoisseur of both Western and Carnatic (South Indian classical) music and an acknowledged authority of Indian Philosophy. He helped the Western world discover the music of a little-known Russian composer Nikolai Karlovich Medtner (1880–1951), financing the recording of a large number of his compositions and founding the Medtner Society in 1949. Medtner's Third Piano Concerto is dedicated to the Maharaja of Mysore. He became a Licentiate of the Guild Hall of Music, London, and honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London, in 1945. He was the first president of The Philharmonic Concert Society, London, in 1948. The Maharaja also enabled Richard Strauss's last wish to be full filled by sponsoring an evening at Royal Albert Hall by London's Philharmonia Orchestra with German Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler in the lead and Soprano Flagstad singing his Four Last Songs (Going to Sleep, September, Spring, At Sunset) in 1950.
[ Please also see Time magazine Monday, Jun. 05, 1950 at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,812590,00.html? promoid=googlep ]

Harry Walter Legge(1906 – 1979) an influential English classical record producer for EMI whose recordings include many sets later regarded as classics and produced as "Great Recordings of the Century", was invited to Mysore by the Maharaja and had this to say "The visit to Mysore was a fantastic experience. The Maharajah was a young man, not yet thirty. In one of his palaces he had a record library containing every imaginable recordings of serious music, a large range of loud speakers, and several concert grand pianos...."

[ In the photo above His Highness is seen greeting his Guru Mysore Vasudevachar. To see several photos like the one above and to hear the Maharajah speak of Vasudevachar, please visit the magnificent Face book page of Mr. Raja Chandra at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123413267676612&v=wall ]

After becoming Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar was initiated to the Indian Classical Music (Carnatic Music) due to the cultural vibrancy which prevailed in the Mysore Court till then. He learnt to play the Veena under Vid. Venkatagiriappa and mastered the nuances of Carnatic music under the tutelage of veteran composer and "Asthana Vidwan" Sri. Vasudevachar. He was also initiated in to the secrets of Shri Vidya as an "upasaka" (a spiritual intern) under the assumed name Chitprabhananda by his guru Shilpi Siddalingaswamy. This inspired him to compose as many as 94 Carnatic music compositions under the assumed name of Shri Vidya. All the compositions are in different raga's and some of them are for the first time ever. In the process, he also built three temples in Mysore city: All three Temples were sculpted by the famous sculptor, Shilpi Siddalingaswamy.

The patronage and contribution of Wodeyars to Carnatic has been researched in the 1980s by Prof. Mysore Sri V. Ramarathnam, Carnatic musician, author, teacher and composer, vocalist disciple of Sangeetha Rathna Mysore T. Chowdiah and first Principal of the University College of Music and Dance, University of Mysore. The book was titled "Contribution and Patronage of Wodeyars to Music".

[The above text regarding his His Highness Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar has been appropriated in small and paraphrased courtesy of www.absoluteastronomy.com, from where many more magnificent details of the Royal Lineage can be obtained ]

Finally, we close out this edition of our blog with a very rare and original photograph of Princess Sujaya Kantha Ammani, sister of HH Jayachamrajendra Wodeyar, later the Thakurani Sahiba of Sanand, taken in Coimbatore in the early 1970s at the house of a member family of "Parvathi"

[ Princess Sujaya Kantha Ammani, Royal Family of Mysore ]