Vellore G. Ramabhadran

Vellore G. Ramabhadran

Sangita Kalanidhi Vellore G. Ramabhadran (August 4, 1929 - February 27, 2012) was a much liked mridangam maestro known for his self-effacing, supportive percussion accompaniment. Born in Salem district, he was initiated into music at an early age by his father, Konnakol T.P. Gopalachari, a musician who ran a sabha at Vellore in North Arcot (now Vellore) district in Tamil Nadu. Ramabhadran started learning mridangam from the age of eight. 

In 1942, Tiruparkadal Srinivasa Iyengar moved from Chennai to Salem and Ramabhadran came under his tutelage, starting with basic training in vocal music. In the 1940s, he performed regularly, accompanying Madurai Mani Iyer on the mridangam at various temples in Tamil Nadu. Ramabhadran was fond of recalling a concert for the prisoners in the Palayamkottai Central Prison in 1948 where he accompanied M.M. Dandapani Desikar. 

Ramabhadran moved to Chennai in 1950, and lived there for the rest of his life, active on the concert stage almost till the very end. He accompanied every leading musician of his period, including the seniormost artists--vocalists Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Musiri Subramania Iyer, G.N. Balasubramaniam, Maharajapuram Santhanam, T.V. Sankaranarayanan, T.N. Seshagopalan, B. Rajam Iyer, and P.S. Narayanaswamy as well as instrumentalists like T.R. Mahalingam, N. Ramani, Lalgudi Jayaraman and T.N. Krishnan. He continued to support the leading artists of the day, including very young musicians.

Ramabhadran also performed with Hindustani musicians like Zakir Hussain, Alla Rakha, Amjad Ali Khan and Hariprasad Chaurasia. He accompanied K.J. Yesudas on the mridangan for the song Mari, mari, ninne in the Tamil film Sindhu Bhairavi

In addition to the Sangita kalanidhi (2004) from the Music Academy, Chennai, the honours Ramabhadran received include the Sangeetha Choodamani at the hands of Palghat Mani Iyer in 1975, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, 1991, Sangeetha Kalasikhamani, 1998 by The Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai, and others. 

Vellore Ramabhadran passed away on 27 February 2012, aged 82.