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T.N Krishnan, Dr V.Raghavan
Issue : 302
Published on : November, 2009


Special Feature Dr. V. Raghavan Mentor to the Music Academy


Revival of Velangudi Navaratri music festival

The Vallamba Nattars are the main residents of Velangudi – a small fertile village near Karaikudi. Vayal Nachiamman on the eastern side of Velangudi, and Perianayaki Amman by the western side of the Karaikudi Tiruchi highway, are the grama devata-s. The Palaya Nattars are ardent devotees.

Sixty years ago, there lived in this village a connoisseur of music called Periyanan Ambalam, who was a devotee of Periyanayaki Amman. On his own initiative he started Sri Periyanayaki Vasanta Navaratri Festival in 1940. A number of music lovers and vidwans like Tiger Varadachariar, Chittoor Subramania Pillai, Madurai Somasundaram, Mani Rajan (Tiger's disciple), Salem B.K. Viswanatha Sarma, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, Ramnad C.S. Murugabhoopathy, Tiruchi Tayumanavan and Avudayarkoil Harihara Bhagavatar were close friends of Ambalam. So with the help of these vidwans he conducted the festival in a grand manner. The vidwans did not ask for any remuneration from Periyanan Ambalam because they knew he was spending liberally from his own pocket and was not seeking any financial help. The Navaratri music festival was conducted very well for almost fifteen years. Some years later Ambalam fell on bad days, so he went to Malaysia and Singapore to collect funds to conduct the navaratri festival. At that time, some well wishers like Ganapathy Ambalam came forward to help him and continue to do so. Swami Saravana Bhavananda composed many Tamil songs on Periyanayaki Amman. After some years, with the passing away of Periyanan Ambalam, there was none to conduct the Navaratri festival. Click here to read more ...


T.N. Krishnan's life in music - RAMANATHAN N. IYER

The quality of music is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes...

Apologies to William Shakespeare for taking liberties with Portia's homily on the quality of mercy in The Merchant of Venice, but those words perfectly describe T.N. Krishnan's fluid bowing. One of the world's great exponents of the art of violin, Krishnan is now in his eighty first year. His life has entered a phase when most men tend to curl up on the park bench of nostalgia, benevolently watching over the pranks of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and gazing wistfully at the approaching golden sunset. Not this evergreen hero, who travels worldwide even today with all the energy of men half his age, enthralling audiences with his sheer virtuosity and wowing critics with the exquisite nuances of his masterpieces like Yadukulakambhoji and Surati.

The early days

Tripunithura Narayanan Krishnan's journey started on 6 October, 1928 with his birth into Bhagavatar Matham, an illustrious family of musicians acclaimed in both the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions. Parents A. Narayana Iyer and Ammini Ammal hailed from families whose musical lineage could be traced back five generations. Grandfather Appadurai Bhagavatar was a renowned musician too. Music was thus an integral part of Krishnan's childhood in Tripunithura, the seat of the Cochin royal family. Father Narayana Iyer, an eminent music educator, was his first guru. An extraordinary teacher and strict disciplinarian, Narayana Iyer spared no effort in developing his son's innate talent.

Little Krishnan was a quick learner, absorbing masterpieces like Veena Kuppier's Ata tala varnam in Narayanagaula and major kriti-s like Sri Subrahmanyaya namaste (Kambhoji, Muthuswami Dikshitar). He was greatly encouraged by violin vidwan G. Krishna Iyer (Kittam Bhagavatar) and maternal uncle G. Narayana Iyer, an advocate in nearby Perumbavur. Krishnan has fond memories of accompanying his father to hear the evening broadcasts of Corporation Radio at the municipal park, featuring such great masters as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Tiger Varadachariar and the Karaikudi Brothers. Krishnan's arangetram at the age of seven was at Tripunithura's famous Poornatrayeesa temple. Click here to read more ...


Dr. V. Raghavan
Mentor to the Music Academy - SRIRAM V

This is the first part of a special feature on the late Dr. V. Raghavan on the occasion of his birth centenary which was observed for a year from August 2008. Photos courtesy his daughter Nandini Ramani.

His role in the rise of the institution

A young man was seen diligently taking notes during the presentation of papers by musicians and scholars at an all India music conference held in conjunction with the 1927All India Congress session in Madras. This was V. Raghavan. Of the several resolutions passed at the meet the most significant one was on the founding of the Music Academy, Madras. The intellectual that he was, Raghavan was attracted to the new organisation and joined it. In time, he became one of its leading lights. The Raghavan era at the Academy lasted fifty years.

Initially the academic side of the institution dominated, with raga-s and their evolution in practice, being the subject of many discussions. Such great musicians as ‘Tiger' Varadachariar, T.S. Sabhesa Iyer and Harikesanallur L. Muthiah Bhagavatar were prominent in these. Inheritors of great musical lineages such as Ambi Dikshitar and Syama Sastry (a descendant of the great vaggeyakara) lent weight to these discussions, as did scholars like Pt. S. Subrahmanya Sastri of Tanjavur (the grandfather of Peria Sarada), P.G. Sundaresa Sastri, ‘Tandava Pandita' Bharatam Nallur Narayanaswami Iyer and Hulugur Krishnamachar, who analysed the development of raga-s as seen in texts and manuscripts. The growth of Carnatic music over the centuries and the work of scholars, kings and composers who played an important role in it were also discussed. This demanded extensive knowledge of treatises on music, most of them in Sanskrit and Telugu. Raghavan announced his arrival to these scholars with an extremely well researched paper in the 1931 conference on "Some Early Names in Sanskrit Sangita Literature ". His talk covered musicologists and academicians from the time of Bharata to Sarangadeva. He followed this up with a second lecture in the 1933 conference, quoting from commentaries, alankara-s and several unpublished works. In the process, he mentioned 120 works he accessed from the Adyar Library, the Tanjavur Saraswati Mahal Library, the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, and the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona. The Academy's committee welcomed him with open arms, realising they had a jewel in their midst. A member of the Academy's Executive Committee from 1938, he became one of its three secretaries in 1944. Click here to read more ...


Rama Ravi - K.S. KALIDAS

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air"

These famous lines of Thomas Gray, although in an altogether different context, seem to describe the status given to some of our most accomplished musicians. Closer home, Subramania Bharati's "Nallador veenai seidey, adai nalam keda puzhudiyil erivathundo, " conveys similar meaning.

To a large extent, the two quotations fit the classical vocalist and musicologist Rama Ravi (66), seldom heard in sabha-s. The description "complete musician " fits Rama Ravi better than many more successful musicians. Click here to read more ...

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