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Individual Issues

Muthiah Bhagavatar
Issue : 242
Published on : November, 2004



3 Sruti Box

7 News & Notes

13 Heritage Landmarks In Music

17 A Series For Youngsters

29 Special Feature

49 A Series For Youngsters

52 Editor's Note

Front Cover: Muthiah Bhagavatar
(Samudri Archives)

Special Feature
Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar

Harikesanallur L. Muthiah Bhagavatar was something of a Superman in Carnatic music. His life is very difficult to condense into a short account for there were so many remarkable achievements in it. He overcame adverse circumstances to become a musician. He began his professional career as a vocalist who had also specialised in playing the mridanga and the gottuvadyam. He later switched to Harikatha and it was in that field that he acquired great fame. He was the moving spirit behind great music festivals in two locations in Madras Presidency for many years. He was a catalyst in the success of a series of pathbreaking music conferences in Tanjavur for two years. Somewhere in between he created new raga-s, imported several from Hindustani music and composed many songs in many forms such as kriti-s, varnam-s and tillana-s.

He founded a music school, was the Principal of two respected educational institutions and played a key role in bringing Swati Tirunal's works to the forefront of the concert arena. He wrote a major treatise on music which earned him the distinction of being the first musician to get a doctorate (and a genuine one at that). He moved with kings and commoners with equal ease all of whom loved him for his wit, his magnificent personality and his erudition. He earned enormous amounts and spent them on a luxurious lifestyle. He was also supremely generous, giving large amounts to causes that took his fancy. In short he was truly magnificent and his life was one exciting roller

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A Series For Youngsters
Sargam Gets Deep Into Musicology

"Ha, ha, ha..." laughed Amma, as Sargam related, in an exaggerated manner, her experiences at the ' music conference'. Mother and daughter were now on the train. Sargam proudly showed her jottings of Amma's lecture on the Swaramelakalanidhi of Ramamatya.

"Wow," said Amma appreciatively and Sargam puffed up in pride.

"Now, now, I can see that you have raised a doubt too," said Amma and read aloud from the paper, "What is a mela?" Do you really want to know the answer to this, baby?" Amma endearingly asked her daughter.

Instantly Sargam answered, "I AM NOT A BABY. I am all of twelve years old. First say sorry for calling me a baby. Secondly, I do want to know what a mela is but first tell me a story while I have my dinner." Amma complied with her demand.

"Once upon a time, in the Tanjavur region, there ruled a king called Sevappa Nayak. He ruled for thirty-one years from 1532-1563 AD."

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The House In Bunder Street

Continuing our tour of George Town, that lovely old part of Madras, we now come to the travels of Tyagaraja, the most
prolific composer among the Carnatic Trinity.

Tyagaraja, unlike his younger contemporary Muthuswami Dikshitar, did not travel much. His was a life devoted to Rama and he chose to spend most of it in his native Tiruvaiyaru, no matter the troubles his brother inflicted on him. But his disciples had already begun to spread far and wide and it was not long before his fame had spread far beyond the confines of Tiruvaiyaru. Thus Venkataramana Bhagavatar had established himself at Wallajapet, Subbaraya Sastry had become the asthana vidwan at Udayarpalayam and Veenai Kuppayyar had come to Madras, where he secured the patronage of Kovur Sundaresa Mudaliar, one of the rich dubashes of the city.

Kuppayyar was to become well known as Muthialpet Kuppayyar, for he lived in Muthialpet, which along with Peddanaickenpet constitutes the two halves of old Black Town (present day George Town), with Broadway dividing them. Where his house was we do not know, but most intriguingly there is a Kuppayyar Street in that area. There is also a Tyagayyar Street. Were they named after the sishya and the guru? We can only guess at this point in time, unless someone ransacks the Tamil Nadu Archives and sees if there is any authentic information on whom the two streets are named after.

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A Series For Youngster
Stamp On Surdas

The stamp on Surdas is the fourth in the series of commemorative stamps on saints and poets. It was issued on 1 October 1952 by the Department of Posts. The stamp is in the denomination of four annas (4A); colour bright blue; watermark multistar; perf. 14; and was printed in the India Security Press at Nasik.

A Special Cover with a picture of Surdas was later issued on 12 February 1978 on the occasion of the Agra Philatelic Exhibition—AGRAPEX-78.

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