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Carnatic Instrumentalists


Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu

Sri Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu was born on November 8,1893 in Bangalore.He has the distinction of being the first ever violinist to give a solo performance.He gave his first solo performance at Vellore in the year 1938.He was partially blind.Well known violinist was a great admirer of Sri Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu.He was appointed Professor of Violin at Maharaja's Music College in Vijayanagaram, and became its principal in 1936.

Awards and Recognition

  1. Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1941.
  2. Kala Prapoorna in 1950
  3. Sangeet Natak Academi Award in Fine Arts in 1953
  4. Padma Shree in 1957
  5. Indian Postal Department has released a commemorative stamp on his birth centenary in 1993.
  6. Raja-Lakshmi Award for the year 1992 by Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation, Chennai was awarded to Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu Memorial Trust.

He passed away on 25th November 1964.

Govindaswamy Naicker

Govindaswamy Naicker was a Staff Artiste of AIR Chennai and was a successful accompanist for many prominent musicians of the 1940's to 1970's. The Madurai Mani Iyer and Govindaswamy Naicker combination was very popular.He was also the Sheriff of Madras and was the first ever musician to hold this post.His son Suresh Babu is also a violinist of repute.

Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Rajamanickam Pillai was born at Alangudi near Nidamangalam.His mother was very much interested in developing her son as a musician.He had training in vocal music under Nagaswaram Kandaswami Pillai, Tiruvisanallur Pallavi Narayanaswami Ayyar and Pandanallur Chinnaswami Pillai and violin under Tirukodikaval Ramaswami Ayyar for four years. He stopped vocal music as per advice from his gurus as he was adept in playing the violin.He had his advanced training under Flute Nagaraja Rao and Umayalpuram Swaminatha Ayyar, two senior vidwans.

He had a very simple style of playing.He accompanied mostly all the top artists of his generations and never hesitated in accompanying juniors.

Awards and Recognition

Rajamanickam Pillai was honoured at the Courts of Ramnad, Cochin, Ettayapuram, Travancore and Mysore. He was Asthana Vidwan at Travancore in 1940 and at Ettayapuram in 1942. He won the Sangita Natak Academy Award in 1959, Isai Perarignar from the Tamil Isai Sangham and Sangita Kalanidhi from the Music Academy in 1948. His disciples included M.M.Dandapani Desikar and Govindaraja Pillai.

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan

Sri Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan was born on March 2, 1935 to Sri Ramaswamy Sastri and Smt. Meenakshi.He began his training under his father at a very young age.His style of playing the instrument was highly appreciated by both musicians and the common man.He accompanied stalwarts of Carnatic Music such as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Maharajapuram Santhanam at the age of 12.He stopped accompanying vocalists in 1976 to concentrate on solo performances.

He also composed music for films such as Vaa Raja Vaa,Agathiyar and Raja Raja Chozhan.

Awards and Recognition

Sri Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan was awarded the Padmashri,Sangeet Natak Akademi Award,Kalaimaamani and also several film awards for his contribution as a music director.

He passed away on September 8 2008.

Mysore T Chowdiah

Sri Mysore Tirumakudalu Chowdiah was born in 1895.He is the violinist who introduced the 7 stringed violin in Carnatic music.He learnt violin from Sri Bidram Krishnappa.Sri Chowdiah accompanied mostly all musicians of his generation and also gave several solo performances.The Chembai-Chowdiah combination was considered to be very popular.He produced a film Vani(1940) in which he made Chembai and Palghat Mani Iyer star along with himself. He was awarded the Sangeetha Kalanidhi in the year 1957.

He passed away on 19th January 1967.

Mayavaram Govindaraja Pillai

Sri Govindaraja Pillai hailed from the village Vazhuvur near Mayavaram, which is famous for its temple and Bharatanatyam exponents.He had his violin training under Mayavaram Bhootalinga Iyer and later under Simizhi Sundaram Iyer and his uncle, Nagaswaram Veerasami Pillai.Between 1925 and 1930, he learnt from maestro Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai the fine art of violin accompaniment. He made his debut at Mayavaram in 1930 accompanying his own master in the latter's solo concert.

Awards and Recognition

Appointed as the Asthana Vidwan at Trivandrum.

Mavelikkara Krishnankutty Nair

Sri Mavelikkara Krishnankutty Nair was born on 11th October 1920.He recieved his training from Sri Pazhani Subramania Pillai.He was a popular mridangist in Kerala along with Sri Maavelikkara Velukutty Nair.He is the recipient of many awards like Padmashri,Padma Bhushan,Sangeet Nataka Akademi Award.He was also an AIR artist in Travancore

Parur Sundaram Iyer

Sri Parur Sundaram Iyer was born in 1891.He learnt violin under Trivandrum Ramaswamy Bhagavather who was the Asthana Vidwan of Travancore Palace. He also learnt Hindustani Violin under Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.He is the father of two great violinists Sri M S Gopalakrishnan and Sri M S Anantharaman who have continued their father's lineage.He was a Faculty Member of the University of Madras in the Music Department. He created a new style of playing the violin known as the Parur style.He was the founder of Sri. Thyagaraja Sangeetha Vidwat Samajam, Mylapore.

He passed away in December 1964.

Pazhani Subramanya Pillai

Sri Pazhani Subramaniam Pillai was born on April 20, 1908 to Unnamalai Ammal and Muthaiah Pillai who was also a mridangist.He began his tutelage under his father and was influenced a lot by Sri Pudukkotai Dakshinamurthy Pillai.He accompanied senior artists like Kanchipuram Nayana Pillai, Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhavathar and Mudicondon Venkatarama Iyer.He was the preferred mridangist for Alathur Brothers,GNB, Sri Madurai Mani Iyer and many more.He was helped immensely by Sri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar in his career.He was also a great kanjira vidwan and his combination with Palghat Mani Iyer was a treat.Some of his prominent disciples are M.N.Kandaswamy , Palattur Lakshmanan, Trichy Shankaran and Guruvayur Dorai.

He passed away in 1962.

Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai

Sri Pudukkotai Dakshinamurthy Pillai was born in the year 1875.He was a great mridangam and also a great kanjira vidwan.He learnt from Pudukottai Mavudia Pillai.His style is being followed by many contemporary mridangists like Neyveli B Venkatesh.His illustrious discples include Thanjavur Ramadas , Palghat Mani Iyer and Devakottai Sunder Raj.

He passed away in the year 1937.

Palghat T S Mani Iyer

Sri Palghat Mani Iyer was born in the year 1912.His paternal uncle Thiruvilvamala Vengichan was a great maddallam maestro who set up the traditional drumming called 'Panchavadyam'.Mani Iyer started learnt from Chattapuram Subbier,Kalpathy Vishwanatha Iyer and had his advanced training from Sri Tanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer and Pudukkotai Dakshinamurthy Pillai.He was one mridangist who could completely dominate the concert platform.He gave his first performance when he accompanied Sri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar in 1928.From then on there was no looking back for Sri Mani Iyer.

He was an artist in great demand.It is said that vocalists used to adjust their schedule according to Mani Iyer so that they could have him as their accompanist.He was a man of principles.He accompanied great musicians like Ariyakudi Ramanujam Iyengar, Kanchipuram Naina Pillai, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer,Madurai Mani Iyer, Alathur Brothers, G N Balasubramanim,D K Patammal,M L Vasanthakumari,T R Mahalingam,Palladam Sanjeeva Rao,K V Narayanaswamy,Nedunuri Krishnamurthy.He also accompanied Dr L Subramanium for whom he had very high regards.

Some of his discliples include Palghat R Raghu,Umayalpuram K Shivaraman,Tanjavur Ramdas,V Nagarajan,T R Rajamani(his son),Maavelikkara Velukutty Nair,Kamalakar Rao,Srimushnam Raja Rao and many more.

Awards and Recognition

  • President's Award(1956)
  • Sangeetha Kalanidhi

He passed away on 30th May 1981.

Palghat R Raghu

Sri Palghat Raghu was born on January 9, 1928 in Burma.He was one of the seniormost disciples of Sri Palghat Mani Iyer.He began his initial training in Burma from Thinnian Venkatrama Iyer who later on introduced him to Sri Palghat Mani Iyer.After listening to young Raghu, Sri Mani Iyer was satisfied and decided to take him as his student.Even though he learnt from Sri Mani Iyer, he was highly influenced by Sri Pazhani Subramanya Pillai's style.He formed a great partnership along with Sri K V Narayanaswamy on the concert platform.He accompanied almost every artist belonging to his generation.

Some of his illustrious disciples include Trichur Narendran,Trivandrum Vaidyanathan,Trivandrum Balaji,Abhishek and Anand Raghuram(his grandsons).He was the first mridangist to win the Padmashri.He also won the Sangeetha Kalanidhi in Dec 2007.

He passed away on June 2, 2009 after a prolonged illness.

R K Venkatrama Shastry

Sri R K Venkatrama Shastry was born in the year 1907 in Rudrapattana, Karnataka.He is the grandfather of well known violinist Sri R K Shriramkumar.He learnt violin from many eminent people like Shri R.Venkata Rao,Shri R.K.Krishna Sastry, Shri B. Subbanna, and the noted vidwan Shri Mysore T. Chowdiah.He also learnt vocal.As an accompanist, he accompanied several greats like Shri Tiger Varadachariar, Shri Ariyakkudi Ramanju Iyengar, Shri Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer, Shri Musisri Subramania Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Shrimati M.S. Subbulakshmi, etc.He also accompanied his guru Shri Mysore T. Chowdiah in the latter's solo recitals.

He was an AIR staff artist for 32 years.He recieved the title Kalaimamani in the year 1970.He passed away in the late 1980s.

Ramnad Raghavan

Sri Ramnad Raghavan was born on June 19,1927.He was a very renowned mridangist and was the brother of Sangeetha Vidwan Ramnad Krishnan.He taught for many years at Wesleyan University in the United States.He has accompanied all the leading musicians including his brother.

He passed away on November 21,2009 at the age of 82.

Ramanathapuram C S Murugabhupathi

Sri C S Murugabhupati was a renowned mridangist of his era.He was the younger brother of C S Sankara Sivam(disciple of Harikesanallur Muttaiya Bhagavatar).He has accompanied many vocalists including Sri Madurai Mani Iyer,Dr M Balamuralikrishna,M S Subbalakshmi,Madurai T N Seshagopalan and many more.

Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer

Sri Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer was one of the greatest mridanga Vidwans of the 20th Century.He was the one who systemised the lessons Mridangam.It is his style of playing that is widely accepted today.Some of his illustrious disciples include Palghat T S Mani Iyer, T K Murthy, Umayalpuram K Shivaraman, Kodundarapalli Swaminatha Iyer.

He passed away in the year 1950.

T R Harihara Sharma

Sri T R Harihara Sharma was born on January 4, 1904.He learnt under mridangam maestro Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer for three years and later from Ponnaiah Pillai from Annamalai University for two years.He is the father of Ghatam maestro Sri Vikku Vinayakaram.Some of his illustrous disciples include Guru Karaikudi Mani, K.M.Vaidyanathan, his sons T H Vinayakaram and T H Subhashchandran.He met with an accident that kept him away from playing the mridangam but not being the one to give up, he took up morsing.He founded an institution Sri Jaya Ganesa Talavadya Vidyalaya, in Chennai.