Thursday, 1 August 2019

Tiger Varadachariar

Birthdays & Anniversaries

1.8.1876 - 31.1.1950
Tiger used to accompany his elder brother in Harikatha kalakshepam-s. He also acted in a play called Indra Sabha, produced by his elder brother for a bhajana sabha. The brothers at- tended musical performances and sought the company of those skilled in music to satisfy their deep interest.

Tiger's first teachers outside his family were a friend of the family called Appadurai Iyer in Tiruvotriyur and his son Ramachandran who was a violinist. Tiger learnt seven or eight raga-s, including Darbar, Kanada, and Kafi from them. The local Ramamandiram used to attract vidwans of Madras city every Sunday and the great Tachur Singarachariar (Senior) was the convenor of the sessions. Other leading vidwans of the day like Singarachariar (Junior), Veena Neelakantha Sastri, Tiruvotriyur Tyagier (son of Veena Kuppier), used to participate. Their performances were lessons in music and Tiger was one of those who profited from listening to them. It is known that Tiger frequently sought Tachur Singarachariar's company and that the famous vidwan certainly had something to do with the development of Tiger's musical talent.

Varadachariar is generally considered to have been a disciple of Patnam Subrahmania Iyer, So say several accounts of his life, including E. Krishna Iyer's chapter on him in the book Pelsonalities in Present Day Music, published in 1933. He tells us that Tiger remained with that great vidwan and composer for three years from his 14th year. This would be from 1890 to 1893. Other accounts have Tiger going to Tiruvaiyaru (to which place Subrahmania Iyer belonged) or to Madras (where Patnam lived for 10 years and therefore acquired the prefix) for gurukulavasam. S.Y. Krishnaswamy and M.D. Ramanathan have referred to him as a disciple of Patnam and many of Tiger's disciples have referred to Vasudevachar, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar and Tiger as the three principal disciples of Patnam Subrahmania Iyer. But there are other accounis which give a different version. Rukmini Devi, in her foreword to the commemoration volume brought out during the birth centenary of Tiger in 1976, has, for example, clearly said: "From what he himself has told me, he was not a direct disciple of Patnam but a disciple in the sense that Patnam Subrahmania Iyer was the embodiment of musical perfection as far as he was concerned and therefore his spiritual guru who inspired him to sing. By this devotion, he sang in the same style as Patnam Subrahmania Iyer himself."

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