S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Saturday, 10 November 2018

R. K. Venkatarama Sastry

Birthdays & Anniversaries

There is a school of thought that to be a great Carnatic musician, you need to be blessed with the serendipity of being born on the banks of the Kaveri in a pious family leading an austere lifestyle in the vicinity of a temple. A staple of vadu mangai and buttermilk and pazhaiyathu, or their Karnataka equivalent if you happened to wet your feet in the river closer to its origins, would help too, not to mention a strict regimen of sandhyavandanam three times a day.

By all accounts, musician, Harikatha artist, playwright and Sanskrit and Kannada scholar Rudrapatnam Krishna Sastry, who married singer Sannakka, daughter of vainika-violinist Bettadapura Narayanaswamy, in the early years of the 20th century, enjoyed just such a concatenation of circumstances. His first son, Rudrapatnam Krishna Venkatarama Sastry, was born on November 10th 1907 at Rudrapatnam, a stone’s throw from the waters of the sacred river. Venkatarama Sastry — whose birth centenary celebrations begin from 11th November 2007 with a music festival in Chennai — showed early signs of musical talent which his father nourished by exposing him to the best available training with distinguished guru-s.

(This Sanketi family from the Hassan district of Karnataka went on to produce some nine more musicians at last count. For a detailed account, see the R.K. Srikantan profile in Sruti 134, November 1995). After spending more than a decade learning violin from Veena Subbanna and Mysore T. Chowdiah, he moved to Madras in 1936, to join All India Radio when it was formed. 

To read full story, visit sruti.com and buy Sruti 278

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