S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Palladam Sanjeeva Rao

18.10.1882 - 11.7.1962
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Sanjeeva Rao was born on 18 October 1882, in Palladam in the Coimbatore district of the then Madras Presidency. He was the youngest of the three sons of Palladam Venko- bachar, an ardent devotee of Anjaneya, who had the reputation of possessing tantric powers that helped him cure severe illnesses. The father depended on donations to maintain himself and his family, but his reputation extended to the adjoining districts of Tiruchi and Salem also. It was this reputation apparently that paved the way for Sanjeeva Rao's career in music.

Flutist Palladam Sanjeeva Rao belonged to the era, if not the race, of giants who dominated Car- natic classical music for about three decades from the nineteen twenties. He was the uncrowned king of the flute-until a prodigy called T.R. Mahalingam came along and revolutionised the Carnatic flute. He did not quite lose his throne to the revolutionary, for he continued to be respected by his peers and supported by the Establishment but he was no longer quite the sovereign he was.

Sanjeeva Rao was a disciple and successor of Sarabha Sastri but, even in the early nineteen thirties, there were not many who had heard the blind bard of the bamboo often enough to confirm that, although Rao had inherited Sastri's flute, he had also acquired his style and his mastery of the instrument at the same level. Writting in Personalities In Present. Day Music, published in 1933, the late E. Krishna Iyer, connoisseur and critic and a force at the Madras Music Academy, could only say: "The echoes of that Orpheus of India (Sarabha Sastri) are said to be discernible in the present in Sanjeeva Rao ". There is no doubt, how- ever, that Sanjeeva Rao had attained enough proficiency to establish himself as a prominent player in the major league.

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