Song of Surrender

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Papanasam Sivan

Birthdays & Anniversaries 

26.9.1890 - 10.10.1973
Papanasam Sivan  was a prominent composer of Carnatic music and a singer. He was awarded the Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1970. He was also the foremost film score composer in Kannada cinema as well as Tamil cinema in 1930s and 1940s.[2]
A famous composer, Sivan was also known as Tamil Thyagaraja. Using Classical South Indian as a base, Sivan created numerous hits popularised by M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavatharand M. S. Subbulakshmi.
In 1962, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama
Later in 1962 Papanasam Sivan received the President award and in 1969 he received the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani award bestowed on him by The Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai. He was conferred the Sangita Kalanidhi in 1971.

Monday, 25 September 2017

A master of ragas like no other

Random Notes
By V Ramnarayan

A musician’s musician. This has been the universal verdict among the cognoscenti of Carnatic music whenever the name of Ramanathapuram or Ramnad Krishnan comes up for discussion. Writing in  Sruti, vocalist Savita Narasimhan, someone who never heard him live, but grew to love his music making through listening to his records, once said: “In an age when the nagaswara-inspired, robust, masculine, forceful music of G.N. Balasubramaniam, Alathur Brothers and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer held sway, Ramnad Krishnan’s choice of the veena-like, delicately modulated style of singing was a decisive deviation from the general trend.” 
A recent event to kickstart Ramnad Krishnan’s year-long centenary celebrations at the Dakshinamurthi Auditorium at PS Higher Secondary School, Mylapore, featured three speakers, one an authority on Krishnan’s music, and his close friend and associate, the second, one of his disciples and a renowned musicologist, and the last one a leading contemporary vocalist who has studied and analysed Krishnan’s music  and revelled in it.
Spencer Venugopal is a consummate orator who brings poetry and erudition to his chaste Tamil without any of the harshness typical of some of its best known public speakers. Having listened to him on numerous occasions over the years, I cannot escape the feeling that you can wake him up while he is fast asleep and he will effortlessly launch into the most cogent analysis of his topic, especially if it has to do with the music of the Dhanammal school.
Expectedly Venugopal waxed lyrical about Krishnan’s exceptional mastery of the nuanced brand of raga music he imbibed by osmosis from the likes of T Brinda. Venugopal did not fail to stress the two-way admiration between Brinda and Krishnan as tellingly proved by the fact of Brinda entrusting Krishnan with the task of mentoring her daughter Vegavahini. He also repeated a story Krishnan’s son RK Ramanathan told earlier that evening about how the vidwan paid no heed to a close friend's advice to add spice to his singing in order to make it more popular among the lay audience and benefit him commercially. “If such a compromise would be my passport to worldly success, I do not need or want such wealth.” Highlighting the innate rhythm and balance in Krishnan’s music, be it in swara or tala, Venugopal confessed his partiality for the maestro’s exquisite raga elaboration. “His contribution to music in a short span was enormous, his musical journey a grand one, ” he said, though his early death was a great loss, still felt by the world.
Dr Ritha Rajan spoke of Krishnan’s sterling qualities as a teacher. He was as concerned about his students as they were devoted to him, taking great pains to cater to the specific requirements of each of them based on aptitude, strengths and limitations. She mentioned the names of Nagamani Srinath, Vegavahini Vijayaraghavan, Neyyatinkara Vasudevan, Nirmala Sundararajan and Janaki Sunderarajan among others.  Their growth, development and concert readiness were all important to him and they could approach him for guidance at any time. Ritha Rajan recalled an occasion when he spent over an hour guiding her telephonically through a ragam-tanam-pallavi in an unfamiliar raga that she had to conjure up during an audition. He encouraged his disciples to absorb the best from other artists and wholeheartedly praised musicians from all quarters.
Few musicians could have deconstructed a great musician’s art and craft better than the way TM Krishna analysed Ramnad Krishnan’s music during the centenary opener. Referring to the unique sound of Krishnan’s voice, he said his voice was inseparable from his music. Taking the example of Sahana, one of Krishnan’s signature ragas, he marvelled at the transformational flow from one syllable to another, with the quintessence of the raga reflected in the three swaras ma, pa, and dha. Like every other aspirant, TMK too had tried to imitate Krishnan but did not succeed in his attempt, he said. Amazed as he was by the precision of length of his swaras, he would not conjecture if the vidwan achieved his special aesthetics by design or if it all came naturally to him. Dispelling the notion that the vidwan’s music was slow paced, Krishna stressed the poise and measured gait that made even his brisk madhyama kalam seem slower. He also asserted that it was ‘dangerous’ to attempt to reproduce Krishnan’s vocalisation, because what seemed effortless for Ramnad Krishnan could damage your voice when you tried it. Pooh-poohing the theory that aggressive ‘male’ music guaranteed the success of a concert, Krishna described the perfect fusion of the masculine and the feminine in Ramnad Krishnan’s music. Krishna closed on a note of regret, regret that we—both musicians and rasikas—failed such a great musician by not recognising his greatness during his lifetime. He questioned the very idea of janaranjakam, the very need to yield to so-called popular demand.

The whole programme was webcast live by Swathi Soft Solutions, and its recording  can be seen right from Apoorva-Anahita’s invocation song to the DVD Musician’s Musician by SB Khanthan, who also anchored the programme. It can be watched on youtube at

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Emani Sankara Sastry

23.9.1922 - 1987
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Emani Sankara Sastry was born in DraksharamamAndhra Pradesh. He came from a family of celebrated classical musicians. His father Vainika Bhooshana Veena Acharya Emani Achyutarama Sastri, a famed vainika and sastragna was a contemporary of Sangameshwara Sastri and Veena Venkata Romainiah Das of Andhra.

Emani played duets with Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and Pandit Gopal Krishan (on vichitra veena) evoking enthusiastic responses from the North Indian listeners. After completing his education from Andhra University, he joined the famous Gemini Studios at Madras, where he was the music director for more than ten years. He composed tunes based on novel techniques and directed music for hit films such as ManglaSansarBahut Din HuweVindhyaraniNishanMr. Sampat and English version of Chandralekha.[1] His own compositions of keerthanas, javalis and bhajans can be frequently heard in his solo concerts. His operas in Hindi and regional languages are also very popular. Emani joined All India Radio in 1959 as producer of music at Madras. Soon he rose to the position of director and composer of national orchestra and chief producer of music. He presented over the broadcasting network a number of classical, thematic orchestral compositions and folk melodies bringing out the special tonal qualities of Indian instruments and synthesised musical patterns with a distinctive Emani touch. Emani was also associated with cultural and academic organisations. He was the asthaan vidwan (court musician) of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, member of the university grants committee – to advise on music and member of the expert committee at Madras Music Academy. He was also designated founder chairman of the committee to select candidates for scholarships of the education ministry for Carnatic music, was a member to select film awards (national), member of the central Sangeet Natak Akademi to select candidates for the national awards.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Guru Narmada

22.9.1942 - 30.3.2007
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Guru Narmada contributed immensely to dance and students of dance with her generous giving and sharing of all her knowledge of dance. She trained some fine artists like Lakshmi Gopalswamy, Manju Bhargavi, Sathyanarayan Raju, Nirupama Rajendra, Malathi Iyengar, Praveen, and Anuradha Vikranth. Her students describe her as a great teacher and a good friend and guide.

 A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee for her contribution to dance, Narmada also received the Shanthala Award from the Government of Karnataka. With over 25 years of teaching experience, she was one of the most senior dance gurus of Bangalore.

Narmada had her initial training from VS Kaushik, and training in the Tanjavur style of Bharatanatyam from KP Kittappa Pillai for 18 years.  
She opened her dance school Shakuntala Nruthyalyaa (in memory of her mother) at Bangalore in 1978 . Instilling in her students many rich, creative ways of using adavus without sacrificing classicism was a notable part of her teaching. She encouraged her students to retain their individuality and creative freedom within the classical framework.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Jitendra Abhisheki

21.9.1930 - 7.11.1998
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Jitendra Abhisheki, an exponent of the Agra gharana, was one of the most popular Hindustani vocalists of the 20th century. He received his musical training from . Hussein Khan and Jagannathbua Purohit. Known for his rendering of khayal and thumri, he did extensive research on the music of folk theatre.

Abhisheki won a reputation as a vocalist whose music, delivered in a husky voice, appealed to lay listeners as well as connoisseurs, though basically he sang for himself. His performances drew capacity audiences. His reputation burgeoned further because of his deep involvement with natya geet which was reflected in the natya pada-s he composed. In his musical creations for Marathi musicals like 'Matsyagandha', Khatyar Khaljat Ghusli', and Yayati ani Devyani'  , he blended tradition and modernity in a beautiful way.