Song of Surrender

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Birthdays & Anniversaries

The following article was researched and written by Senior Editor P.C. JAYARAMAN, with inputs from NARAYANAN PILLAI.

A few decades ago, when any two or more Carnatic music aficionados talked about topnotch violin accompanists, in most cases they would come up with just two names: Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai and Mysore T. Chowdiah. These two were the undisputed leaders in the field and the others were far behind.

It is a hundred years since Rajamanickam Pillai was born and 28 years since he passed away. But the advanced in years among music buffs still fondly recall the days of Pillai and Chowdiah. This is not to say that violinists of their calibre are not around now; if anything, since the days of Chowdiah and Rajamanickam Pillai, there have been many who have brought to violin-playing great sensitivity and artistry.  But the two old timers are still admired for their commitment and ability to enhance the appeal of the concerts in which they played the role of sideman.

Rajamanickam Pillai was a remarkably able and astute accompanist, as well as a successful soloist. But his popularity rested not merely on his abilities with the violin but perhaps also on his other qualities—kindness,
magnanimity, generosity and friendliness—as wellas his wit. He was a largehearted teacher who trained many disciples. And he was a good friend to many.

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