S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Thursday, 2 May 2019


Kakarla Tyagabrahmam, popularly known as Tyagaraja, is said to have been born on 4 May 1767 according to the Gregorian calendar. We celebrate the birthday of this great vaggeyakara with a beautiful painting on the cover by the late classical painter-musician S. Rajam. Nestling in the heart of the city of Chennai, but away from its hustle and bustle, is situated a hoary sangeeta sthalam dedicated to Tyagaraja—Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam in Thiagarajapuram, Mylapore. Started by musicians in 1929, the Samajam is continuing its good work in a quiet way, keeping away from glamour and publicity. We trace its interesting story in this issue, and also present an analysis of a rare kriti—Sri Narasimha mam pahi—composed by the bard. It also falls in line with the celebration of Narasimha jayanti which occurs on 17 May this year, when Melattur comes alive to the sights and sounds of the Bhagavata Mela Mahotsava.

The staging of Prahallada Bhakti Bijaya in Odissi and the conference on Kathak and choreography in Bengaluru (in the News & Notes section) reflect the transition from legacy to re-alignment in the arts.

We have an elaborate profile of senior Bharatanrityam exponent Jayashree Rajagopalan, founder-director of Nrithyodaya-Mumbai who has been in the field for over 50 years. She is the recipient of the Nritya Perunjoti award from ABHAI—the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes, this year.

Another interesting story is about the Hyderabad Sisters—Lalitha and Haripriya—who were very popular in Chennai in the 1990s but who became busy with their academic and concert assignments in Andhra Pradesh.

Not many would know about N.V. Murthy, a versatile percussionist, who accompanied both Carnatic and Hindustani musicians in the south. Sruti has always taken the initiative to write about less known artists who have dedicated their lives to the arts.

Musicologist Rama Kausalya pays an emotional tribute to her good friend, veteran Kamala Murthy who passed away recently.

In the passing away of S. Muthiah, veteran journalist, historian and conservationist, Sruti has lost a good friend. I got a chance to meet the soft spoken ever smiling Muthiah in the 1990s. He was a well-wisher of the magazine and a good friend of the founder-editor N. Pattabhi Raman. He would occasionally visit the editorial office at Alapana and comment on the magazine’s layout, contents and have a good word for everybody. Deeply passionate about Chennai’s heritage, he enjoyed the articles, cartoons and statistics about Chennai’s music and dance season. In fact S. Muthiah was involved in printing Sruti in the initial years. He told us that he was there when the very first copy of the first issue came out of the trimming machine, and he flipped through it to make sure that they had made no errors while printing at TT Maps where he worked. Muthiah would often reproduce articles from Sruti in his fortnightly called Madras Musings. Meticulous and principled that he was, he never failed to give credit and would send us a cheque for the same though we never asked him to do so. We, at Sruti, cherish our long standing interaction with S. Muthiah — the ‘Man from Madras Musings’.

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