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Carnatic Vocalists


Alathur Brothers

The Alathur Brothers were not real brothers as the title suggests.They are considered to be masters of layam and were known for their expertise over complicated pallavis and kannaku.Alathur Srinivasa Iyer, the elder among the two was born in the year 1912 to Angarai Sankara Sroudhigal and Lakshmi Ammal at Ariyalur Village in Trichy District. Alathur Shivasubramanya Iyer(Subbier) was born on 7th July 1916 to Sri Alathur Venkatesha Iyer and Lakshmi.

Alathur Srinivasa Iyer was introduced to Subbier's father in the year 1922.Noticing the young Srinivasa Iyer's potential, Sri Venkatesha Iyer decided to train both the 'Brothers' together.Venkatesha Iyer would make them practise in a rigorous manner.Within a few years, the boys started singing perfectly in unison.Thus, they started to be known as the 'Alathur Brothers'.Initially, their style of singing was not whole-heartedly accepted by the masses due to their complicated style of rendering Pallavis and Swaras.But slowly and steadily, people started enjoying their music.Subbier had a very strong voice while Srinivasa Iyer's voice was very soft, yet melodious.The former handled majority of the Raga rendition while Neraval and Swaras were handled equally by both.The perfect accompanists for the Alathur Brothers were, Palghat T S Mani Iyer,Pazhani Subramania Iyer(both mridangam) and Lalgudi Jayaraman(Violin).

Sri Subbier also composed music for M K Thyagaraja Bhagavathar's films like Raja Mukthi in 1948.Alathur Brothers were conferred the title Asthana Vidwans by the Travancore Maharaja in the year 1944.Sri Subbier till today holds the recognition of being the youngest vocalist to be conferred that title yet.

Awards and Recognition 1. Asthana Vidwans-Travancore Court-1944 2. Sangeetha Kalanidhi-Subbier in 1964,Srinivasa Iyer in 1965

They last performed together at Nannudayan Vinayakar Temple on 25th June 1965 before Subbier passed away on the 28th.After Subbier's death Srinivasa Iyer did not perform for some time but then started giving solo renditions with mostly Lalgudi Jayaraman and Palghat T S Mani Iyer on the mridangam.Srinivasa Iyer passed away on October 9 1980.

Alathur Venkatesha Iyer

Alathur Venkatesha Iyer was the father of Alathur Shivasubramania Iyer(Alathur Brothers Fame).He was born in 1895.He was also an accomplished Harmonium artist.Infact, he accompanied Alathur Brothers on the Harmonium for their very first concert at the Tyagaraja Aradhana in 1928.He was a great admirer of Tyagaraja Swamy,Muthuswamy Dikshithar.

He was instrumental in bringing out many of the compositions of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal,rare compositions of Meesu Krishna Iyer.Some of his famous disciples are Alathur Brothers,Sarojini Sundaresan, Trichy J. Venkatraman, Chengelput Ranganathan, Clarinet A. K. C. Natarajan.He passed away in 1958.

Ariyakudi Ramanujam Iyengar

Sri Ramanujam Iyengar was born on 19th May 1890 at Ariyakudi to Tiruvengadam Iyengar and Nacchiyar(Chellam)Ammal.Sri Ariyakudi began his musical training under Malayappa Iyer from whom he learnt for almost three years.After that he went on to learn from a senior guru like Sri Namakkal Narasimha Iyengar also known as Kedaragaula Narasimha Iyengar because of his mastery over that raga and also as Pallavi Narasimha Iyengar because of his ability to sing complicated Pallavis.The training continued till Sri Ariyakudi was 18 years old.After that he went on to learn from Sri Ramnad(Poochi) Srinivaasa Iyengar who was a prominent disciple of Sri Patnam Subramanium Iyer a well known composer and musician of his time.

Sri Ariyakudi gave his first public performance in 1912 at a wedding.From then on there was no looking back.He had the oppurtunity to learn 4000 Divya Prabandhams,Ramanataka Kirtanams(of Arunaachala Kaviyar).He also went on to master Dikshithar krithis.He learnt the Veena from Sri Subbarama Iyer(Eldest of the Karaikudi Brothers) that helped him improve his gamakas and also the Mridangam. In the year 1918, he got the major oppurtunity to sing at the Tyagaraja Festival in Tiruvayyaru.He came to Madras in the year 1920 where he gave his first performance in Saraswati Gana Sabha, Triplicane.

Here are some of the awards that was conferred upon him:

  1. Sangeetha Ratnakara(1932)
  2. Sangeetha Kalanidhi(1938)
  3. Gayaka Shikamani(1946)
  4. Isai Perarignar
  5. Sangeetha Natak Academy Award(1952)
  6. Padma Bhushan(1958)

He was also a great teacher.Some of his famous disciples include:

  1. Palghat K V Narayanaswamy
  2. B Rajam Iyer
  3. Madurai N Krishnan
  4. Alapuzha Ventakesan

He passed away on 23rd January 1967 due to Renal Failure. Sri Ariyakudi Ramanujam Iyengar is immensely responsible for the concert pattern that the musicians follow today.

B Rajam Iyer

Sri Rajam Iyer was born at Pavattakudi (near Ramnad).He had his initial training under Tirugokarnam Subbayya Bhagavatar and vidwan Ganapati Iyer of Kunnakkudi. He then had training under the gurukula-system from Sangeetha Vidwan Sri Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar for a decade.He was one of the leading disciples and exponents Ramanuja Iyengar's style apart from K V Narayanaswamy,Madurai Krishnan and Alappuzha Venkateshan.He had a vast repertoire of Muthuswami Dikshitar kritis.He was an acknowledged musicologist and a teacher.He passed away in May 2009.


Brinda-Muktha were considered to be one of the most formidable singing duos of their time.They were daughters of Saundararaja Iyengar and Kamakshi and grand-daughters of Veenai Dhannammal.Brinda was born on 5th November 1912 and Muktha was born in 1914.They began their initial training under their mother Kamakshi and then from Kanchipuram Naina Pillai.

Brinda was more dominating on the concert platform since she was blessed with a powerful voice.They first performed at Jagannatha Bhaktha Sabha at Egmore.They never attempted Ragam Thanam Pallavi throughout their career.After performing together for almost 30 years, they parted ways in 1965.But they did perform together for Veena Dhannammal's 50th death anniversary in 1988.

Awards and Recognition

  1. Sangeet Natak Akademi Award(Brinda-1965,Muktha-1972)
  2. Sangeetha Kalanidhi(Brinda-1976)
  3. Recognition for Muktha by AIR as National Artiste in March 2004

Muktha also served as a faculty member at Shanmukhananda Sabha in Mumbai for a few years.Brinda passed away on August 6 1996 and Muktha passed away on

Calcutta Krishnamurthy

Sri Calcutta Krishnamurthy was born on 21st December 1921.He is considered to be a great teacher in the field of Carnatic Music.He learnt from stalwarts such as Tiger Varadachariyar, Tanjore Ponniah Pillai, Thiruvaiyaru Sabesa Iyer, Thiruppamburam Swaminatha Pillai and Sathur Krishna Iyengar.He was a Sangeetha Booshanam from the Annamalai University, in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu.He served as a teacher in Calcutta for a period of 16 years.

Some of his illustrious students include Smt. Sudha Raghunathan, Shri P.Unnikrishnan, Shri Papanasam Ashok Ramani, Smts. Uma and Geetha, and Shri K.N.Sashikiran who are among the leading Carnatic Musicians today.He has tuned several compositions of Sudhananda Bharathi, Subramanya Bharathi, Jayadeva's Ashtapadi and many bhajans. He also composed varnams in ragas like Malavi, Kathanakuthoohalam, Janaranjani and Kuntalavarali and kritis in ragas like Subhapantuvarali, Dharmavathi and Nalinakanti.

He passed away on 16th May 1999.

Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar

Sri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar will always be remembered for his Gaambhiryam.He was born in September 1896 to Anantha Bhagavathar and Parvati and to a family of performing musicians for five generations.His father was a well known violinist in Palghat.He began his tutelage under his father at the age of 3 with his younger brother Subramanium joining him after some years.They first gave their performance as a duo in 1904 at Chemba.Later on Chembai started giving solo performances.

His first performance in Madras was in the year 1918 at Gokhale Hall under the auspicies of Triplicane Sangeetha Sabha.He had a very powerful voice and was a mester in rendering Katri Swaras.His favourate composition was Vathapi Ganapathim and would include that in almost all his concerts.His other popular hits were Rakshamam,Ksheera Saagara,Karunachaivaanendu Thaamasam.

He was the one who was responsible for gifting Carnatic Music with artists like Palghat Mani Iyer,Pazhani Subramania Pillai,T V Gopalakrishnan(mridangam).Some of his illustrious students are:

  1. T V Gopalakrishnan
  2. Jaya-Vijayan
  3. Padmabhushan Dr K J Yesudas
  4. Mani Bhagavathar

He was also a very ardent devotee of Lord Guruvaayurappan and would make it a point to sing atleast once in a year at Guruvaayur Temple in Kerala.Even today there is a music festival that spans for a couple of weeks conducted in his name in the Guruvaayur temple premises.

Awards and Recognition

  1. Gaayana Gandharva-1940
  2. Sangeetha Samrat-1951
  3. Sangeetha Kalanidhi-1951
  4. Padmabhushan(year not available)

He passed away on 16th October 1974 immidiately after he gave his final performance at a temple in Ottapaalam where ironically he gave his first temple concert.

Chittoor Subramanya Pillai

Chittoor Subramaniam Pillai was born on 22nd June, 1898 in a village in Palamaner Taluk, Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh.He was a renowned carnatic musician.He had his initial training under his father, who was a violinist and later under the tutelage of Kanchipuram Naina Pillai.He had a voice that was very sweet.Sri Pillai was a great performer and along with that a great teacher too.He had great mastery over aspects like layam, much like his guru Kanchipuram Naina Pillai.His favourate renditions include Ranidiraadu(Manirangu), Kadalevadu (Narayanagowla) etc.

He was conferred the Sangeetha Kalanidhi by the Music Academy.

D K Jayaraman

Sri D K Jayaraman was born in the year 1928.He was the younger brother of Sangeetha Vidushi D K Pattammal.He began his initial training under his sister and later on from Muthiah Bhagavathar and Papanasam Sivan.Despite being a vocalist of tremendous capability, he never hesitated to provide vocal support for his sister.He was known for his wide repertoire of Dikshithar and Papanasam Sivan Krithis and also rare Tamizh compositions.

He passed away in the year 1991, a month after he recieved the Sangeetha Kalanidhi.

D K Pattammal

Smt D K Pattammal was born on 28th March, 1919 to Damal Krishnaswamy Dikshithar and (Kanthimathi)Rajammal.She began her musical training from her father and also had the oppurtunity of learning from well known composer Sri Paapanaasam Sivan.She was a bold musician hugely inspired by Kanchipuram Naina Pillai who was a great laya vidwan.Her style of singing was totally different from the other contemporary female musicians.She had a firm grip on laya oriented matters and used to sing pallavis set to complicated taalas.

Her first performance in Madras was in 1932 at R R Sabha.She was a popular name for 78 rpm recordings.She also did playback singing for movies with songs like Theeraadu Vilayaadu Pillai,Aadumome Paadumome being remembered even today.On the day India gained Independence, Smt Pattammal was invited by the All India Radio to render a few songs of Subramania Bharathiar.

Awards and Recognition

  1. Sangeetha Kalanidhi-1970
  2. Isai Perarignar-1972
  3. Padma Bhushan-(in the 1970s)
  4. Kalidas Samman from Madhya Pradesh Government-1999
  5. Special Platinum Jubilee Award by Music Academy-2002
  6. Recognized by AIR as National Artiste in March 2004

Her grand-daughter Smt Nityasree Mahadevan is one of the leading Carnatic Musicians today.Smt Pattammal passed away in July 2009.

Dr S Ramanathan

Dr S. Ramanathan was born in the year 1917.He was an eminent Carnatic musician and musicologist. His gurus were Tiger Varadachariar, Sabesa Iyer, Ponniah Pillai,and Sathur Krishna Iyengar.He received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where he also served as a faculty member.He also has composed many varnams and kritis, which have been popularized by his disciples.

His prominent disciples are P.UnniKrishnan, S. Sowmya, Savithri Sathyamurthy, Seetha Narayanan, Vasumathi Nagarajan, Sukanya Raghunathan (veena), Banumathy Raghuraman (veena/vocal), Vidya Hariharan (veena and vocal), Vanathy Raghuraman, Latha Radhakrishnan (violin and vocal), Padma Gadiyar (veena), Thyagarajan/Raju, Sucharithra, Lavanya, and Kalpana (Pavithra).

He passed away in the year 1988.

G N Balasubramanium

He was popularily known by the name GNB.He is the first major Carnatic Musician to hail from the city of Madras.He was born on January 6, 1910 to G V Narayanaswamy Iyer and Visalam.Even though he learnt from Madurai Subramania Iyer and Guruswamy Bhagavathar, GNB picked up mostly by listening to concerts of various great artists.He was witness to some of the best concerts at his younger age that helped him develop tremendously as a musician.He could sing bhrigaas at neck breaking speed and his fast paced renditions always left the audiences yearning for more.

His favourate compositions were, Swaaminaatha, Raghuvara Nannu, Aragimpave,Raadha Mukha Kamala and many more.His concerts along with Lalgudi,Palghat Mani Iyer,T N Krishnan,Pazhani Subramanium Pillai as accompanists were always very special.He was also a great composer with hundreds of songs to his credit even though he never used to sing any of them in his concerts.His compositions did not have any mudraas(i.e signature).The technique shruti-bhedam(shifting of notes,i.e Re as Sa,Ga as Sa etc.) was introduced by Sri GNB.His famous disciples include M L Vasanthakumari,S Kalyanaraman,Trichur V Ramachandran.

Awards and Recognition

  1. Sangeetha Kalanidhi-1958
  2. President Award-1959
  3. Producer-All India Radio-1959
  4. Principal of Swathi Thirunal Academy,Trivandrum 1964

He passed away on May 1, 1965.

John B Higgins

John Higgins was born in the year 1939.He was a great American Scholar and a teacher in Carnatic music.He spend most of his life in Wesleyan University. He was mostly a European and Western Classical musician.He was noticed by T Ranganathan when he was studying about Indian Music from Wesleyan University.He came to India to learn Carnatic Music on a Fulbright Scholarship from T Vishwanathan.Within a short span of time, he performed at the Thyagaraja Aradhana held at Thiruvaiyyaru and is famous for his rendition of the Pancharatna Krithi "Endaro Mahanubhaavulu".

His other famous renditions include Kaa Vaa Vaa,Shiva Shiva Shiva Enaraada,Krishna Nee Begane.He died in an accident on December 7 1984.He also gave several performances as an All India Radio Artist.

K V Narayanaswamy

Sri K V Narayanaswamy was born on November 15,1923.He was one of the most prominent disciples of Sri Ariyakudi Ramanujam Iyengar.He began his initial training in music under his father Vishwanathayyar and grandfather Vishwam Bhagavathar.He also worked as a theatre artist in Coimbatore and acted in a movie Kannapa Nayanar.He was also trained by violnist Papa Venkatramaiah and Mridangam Maestro Palghat T S Mani Iyer who introduced him to Ariyakudi in 1942.He continued his tutelage from Ariyakudi till Ariyakudi's death in 1967.

His first major break came in the year 1954 when he had to step in at the last moment for his guru Sri Ariyakudi Ramanujam Iyengar.He was accompanied by both his gurus ,i.e Palghat T S Mani Iyer and Papa Venkatramiah.That concert was a major turning point in his musical career.He formed solid partnership along with Sri T N Krishnan and Palghat R Raghu who were considered as the ideal accompanists for Sri KVN.He also taught at Wesleyan University from 1965-1967.He was the first Indian Musician to be awarded the "Fulbright Scholarship".

Some of his famous renditions include Endaro Mahanubhavulu in Sri Ragam, Sri Subrahmanya Namaste in Kambhoji, Bala gopala in Bhairavi, Satatam Tavaka in Kharaharapriya, Pahi Janani in Natakuranji, Enneramum in rāgaDevagandhari, Pirava varam tarum in Latangi and Kanavendamo in Sriranjani.

Awards and Recognition

  1. President of India's Padma Shri,1976
  2. Central Sangeet Natak Academi Award,1976
  3. Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at University of California,San Diego,1984 to 1985
  4. Madras Music Academy's Sangita Kalanidhi Award, 1986

He passed away on 1st April 2002.

Kanchipuram Naina Pillai

Sri Kanchipuram Naina Pillai was one of the greatest laya vidwans in the field of Carnatic Music.He was the one vocalist from whom artists like D K Patammal were inspired by.His favourate renditions were Janakiramana (Suddhaseemantini), Mamavasatatam (Jaganmohini), and Paramatmudu (Vagadheeswari).He also set to tune many Thiruppugazhs written by Arunagirinaathar.He was an expert in singing Raagam Thaanam Pallavis that were set to complicated thalas.Some of his popular disciples include T Brinda(Brinda Muktha fame) and Sri Chittoor Subramania Pillai.

Madurai N Krishnan

Sri Madurai Krishnan was a disciple of Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar.He had his initial training from his father and Harikatha exponent, Narayana Iyengar, and his brother and violin vidwan, Srinivasa Iyengar.Regarded as a Vaggeyakara, Krishnan composed numbers for several dance dramas and music for works such as Thiruppavai and Divya Prabandham. He was one of the founders of Bharatalaya, an institution of fine arts. He was ranked as an "A top" artiste of All India Radio.


He was awarded titles such as UNESCO award (1970), Kalaimamani (1981), Sangeet Natak Akademi (1988), Padma Shri (1992) and Padma Bhushan (2003). The "Sangeetha Kala Sikhamani" title, instituted by the Indian Fine Arts Society, was given to him in December 1999.

Madurai N. Krishnan passed away on 9th October 2005.

M D Ramanathan

Sri M D Ramanathan fondly known as MDR was born on May 20,1923.He was a disciple of Sangeetha Vidwan Tiger Varadaacharier.MDR did his schooling in Palakkad and graduated with a BSc degree in Physics from Victoria College, Palakkad.After his graduation, MDR continued as an assistant to his guru and later became Professor of Music at Kalakshetra where he also served as the Principal of the College of Fine Arts.

He was known for his slow paced rendition of songs.His favourate ragas were Sahana, Sri, Anandabhairavi, Reethigowla and Yadukula Kambhoji. Other favorite ragas of his include Kedaram, Kambhoji and Hamsadhwani.He was also a great composer with more than 300 songs to his credit.


MDR was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1974 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1975. He was also awarded the 'Sangeetha Kala Sigamani' in 1976.He also served as a member of the Madras Music Academy's Experts Committee.

He died on April 27 1984.

M L Vasanthakumari

Madras Lalitangi Vasanthakumari was born on July 3, 1928.She was popularly referred to as MLV.She was one of the greatest female Carnatic musicians along with D K Patammal and M S Subbalakshmi.She was also a playback singer and has sung in many Indian languages.She along with D K Pattamal and M S Subbalakshmi were popularly referred to as the "female trinity of Carnatic Music.She was one of the prime disciples of Sri G. N. Balasubramaniam and was the youngest female artist to recieve the Sangita Kalanidhi award.

MLV popularised unfamiliar ragas like Surya,Soumarisha Ranjini which she used to sing as Raagamalika Swaras during Ragam Thanam Pallavi.Her Ragam Thanam Pallavis were considered to be very tough. In addition, she also popularised the compositions of Purandara Dasa (and other Dasas), and some of his compositions she popularized were Baarokrishnayya, Innu daya barade, and many more.She was also known for her rendition of Abanghs.Her most famous disciples include Srividya (her daughter), Sudha Raghunathan, A. Kanyakumari, Charumathi Ramachandran and Meena Subramanian.

She passed away on 31st October 1990 due to cancer.

Madurai Mani Iyer

He was one such artist who was liked by one and all.Madurai Mani Iyer's music was full of "Madhuram"(sweet).He was born on the 25th October, 1912.He began learning from Rajam Bhagavathar and later on from well known composer Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar.His first performance was in the year 1924 at the age of 12 at a temple in Alavakottai.

Mani Iyer was known for his simple style of rendition.His kalpana swaras were set to the sarva laghu pattern and he hardly ever indulged in complicated mathematical calculations.He always wanted his music to be understood by everyone.His pallavis were also very simple that were set to very simple taalas.Some of his all time hits include Kaapali,Kandan Karunai,Vellai Thamarai,Chakkani Raja,Navagraha Krithis by Dikshithar,Eppo Varuvaaro(most famous),English Note. and many more.

Awards and Recognition

  • Gaanakaladhara-1943
  • Sangeetha Kalanidhi-1959
  • President's Award-1960
  • Nadalola-1960
  • Isai Perarignar-1963

He gave his last concert on 31st March 1968 at the Music Academy Hall under the auspicies of Mylapore Arts Academy.He passed away on June 8, 1968.

Madurai Pushpavanam Iyer

Sri Madurai Pushpavanam Iyer was a renowned musician of his time.He was known for his melodious voice.He was the uncle of Sri Madurai Mani Iyer.He passed away in the year 1925.

M S Subbalakshmi

Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi was born on 16 September 1916 was arguably the most renowned Carnatic musician in India.She was born in Madurai, Madras Presidency, British India to veena player Shanmukavadiver Ammal and Subramania Iyer.Her grandmother Akkammal was a violinist. She started learning music at an early age and initially trained under he mother, who taught her the nuances of Carnatic music and also the Veena.She later on went on to learn from Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and subsequently in Hindustani music under Pandit Narayanrao Vyas. She also learned Sanskrit and Telugu under Sri Nedunuri Krishnamurthy who also taught her several songs composed by Annamacharya.

She cut her first recording at the tender age of 10.She has also acted in popular films like Bhaktha Meera whose songs went on to become a major hit and also in the film Shaakuntalam in which she starred opposite Sri G N Balasubramanium.She popularised songs like Bhaavayaami Raghuraamam,Sri Ranga Puravihaara and bhajans like Bruhi Mukunda Hare,Vaishnavajanto and many more.She had an unlimited repertoire of songs.She was very particular about her pronounciation and made sure that she got it right during each of her renditions.

She gave several performances in India aswell as abroad.She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.She became the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, Asia's highest civilian award in 1974.She was somebody who wanted classical music to reach the common man.She was often accompanied by Dr V V Subramanium,Thiruvaalangadu Sundaresha Iyer(both violinsts),Dr T K Murthy(mridangam) and her daughter Smt Radha Vishwanathan on Vocal Support.She was awarded the 'Sangeetha Kalanidhi' in the year 1968.

She passed away on 11th December 2004.

Mudicondan Venkatrama Iyer

Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, was a stalwart among top-ranking musicians of the past five decades.He was a great vidwan known for his meliflous raga alapanas,neravals imaginative kalpana swaras and pallavis that were set to complicated thalas.He gave a lecture demonstration at the Music Academy in 1972,where he sang a Pallavi in Kamboji Ragam set to Simhanandana Thalam.He was a very creative musician who believed in spontanity.He was not the one behind fame and popularity.

He passed away in the 1970s.

Musiri Subramania Iyer

Musiri Subramania Iyer was born on April 9 1899 to Shankara Shastry and Seethalakshmi in Bommalapalayam.He began his training under S Narayanaswamy Iyer and later from T S Sabhesha Iyer.He was a musician who focussed totally on bhavam.He was one of the youngest artists to have recieved the Sangeetha Kalanidhi at the age of 39.By 1930s he became a very popular artists and recorded many 78 rpm recordings.He also gave concerts in Federal Malay States which Singapore was part of then and also in Ceylon.

The composition Nagumomuganaleni that was composed by Tyagaraja Swamy in Abheri(Natabhairavi janyam) was retuned by Musiri in Karnataka Devagandhaari(Karaharapriya Janyam).Most of the artists prefer the latter while rendering the composition.He also acted in a movie "Tukaram" based on the famous Saint Tukaram from Maharashtra.

Awards and Recognition

  • Sangeetha Kalanidhi
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award(1957)
  • Isai Perarignar(1963)
  • Sangeetha Kala Shikhamani(1966)
  • Fellowship of Sangeet Natak Akademi(1967)
  • Padma Bhushan(1971)

He passed away on March 24, 1975.

Muthaih Bhagavathar

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar was born on November 15, 1877.He was commonly known as Muthiah Bhagavatar and is one of Carnatic music's famous twentieth century composers. He also created about 20 ragas.He was exposed to music from a very early age.He began his musical training at the age of 10 from Padinaindumandapa Sambasiva Iyer for nine years and cultivated this talent and made his name as a Harikata Vidhwan. His rich voice and excellent tanam singing made him one of the most highly coveted concert artists.

He was also an extraordinary composer with 400 musical compositions, the largest among the post-Trinity composers, that included many different types of Varnams as well as Kritis and Thillanas to his credit.Some of the ragams created by him are Vijaysaraswathi, Karnaranjani, Budhamanohari, Niroshta and Hamsanandhi.He also composed music for a film LavaKusa.He composed 63 songs for the film resulting in the film being renamed as Sangeetha Lavakusa.

Awards and Recognition:

Muthiah Bhagavathar was the first President of the Annual Conference at the Madras Music Academy and was awarded the most prestigious award in Carnatic music, Sangeetha Kalanidhi title in 1930.

He passed away on June 30, 1945.

Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer

Vishwanatha Iyer was born on September 15 1896 in Maharajapuram, Tanjore District.He was renowned for his raga alapanas and shlokas that were rendered as raagamaalikas.He learnt from Umayalpuram Swaminatha Iyer and Pazhani Rangappa Iyer who imparted knowledge about layam.

His major break came in 1911 at Kumbakonam.After that there was no looking back and his popularity was on the rise.Like Brinda-Muktha, he too has not sung Raagam Thanam Pallavis.It is his version of Kana Kana Ruchira(Tyagaraja Pancharatna Krithi in Varali Ragam) that is followed today.Among his disciples were Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer,T R Navaneetham(flautist),Mannargudi Sambashiva Bhagavathar,Maharajapuram Santhanam(his son).

Awards and Recognition

  • Sangeetha Kalanidhi(1945)
  • Asthana Vidwan,Mysore(1945)
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award(1955)
  • Founder President of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha(1953)

He passed away on April 4, 1970s

Maharajapuram Santhanam

Maharajapuram Santhanam was born in Sirunangur, a village in the state of Tamil Nadu in the year 1928.He was the son of Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer who was also a great musician.He began his initial training under his father and then from Melattur Sama Dikshitar.He was also a great composer and composed many songs on Lord Murugan and Kanchi Shankaracharya.He was the Principal of Ramanathan College in Sri Lanka.His popular songs are "Unnai Allal" (Kalyani Raga), "Sadha Nin Padhame gathi, Varam onnru" (Shanmukhapriya), "Bho Shambo" (Revati), "Madhura Madhura" (Bagheshri), "Srichakra Raja" (Ragamalika), "Nalinakaanthimathim" (Ragamalika), among others. The Maharajapuram Santhanam Day is celebrated on the 3rd of December every year.

He died in a car accident in 1992.Some of his disciples are sons Maharajapuram S. Srinivasan and Maharajapuram S. Ramachandran and Dr. R. Ganesh

Madurai Somasundaram

Madurai S. Somasundaram was born in the year 1919.He was a great Carnatic musician.Popularly called Madurai Somu, he learnt music from Sesha Bhagavatar, Abhirama Sastri and Chittoor Subramanyam Pillai.His maiden concert was held in Tiruchendur in the year 1934.

Awards and Recognition

He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1976 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1978.Annamalai University conferred the Doctor of Law on him Honoris Causa.

He passed away in the year 1989.

Neyattinkara Vasudevan

Neyyattinkara Vasudevan born in 1940 was a renowned Carnatic musician from Kerala.He did his formal music studies from the Swati Tirunal Music College, Thiruvananthapuram, chiefly under the tutelage of the late Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and also did advanced studies under renowned musician Ramnad Krishnan. He served as assistant professor in RLV Music College in Tripunithura, and was also an 'A' grade staff artiste at All India Radio, Thiruvananthapuram. He gave performances both in India aswell as abroad and was known for his traditional style of singing.

He also sang for popular Malayalam Films like Enippadikal, Swathi Thirunal, Chithram, Vachanam and Mazha. He has groomed several disciples like Sreevalsan J Menon and many more.

Awards and Recognition

He was awarded the prestigious Swati Puraskaram, for 2006, instituted by the Kerala government,Padmashri award.

He passed away on May 13, 2008.

Pudukkode Krishnamurthy

Pudukode Krishnamurthy was born in 1923.He was a disciple of Sangeetha Vidwan Palakkad Rama Bhagavathar. He spent a few years at Delhi during the 1940s where he taught music and performed for All India Radio. He was appointed as professor of music at Palakkad music college in 1958 and Swathi Thirunal music college in 1970. In 1976 he became the principal of Palakkad music college. After retirement, he joined Kalakshetra in 1978. He was good at Malayalam and Sanskrit and has composed music for patriotic poems of Vallathol Narayana menon, beautifully sung by himself. This recording was released by Kerala Kalamandalam.He passed away in 1985. A very popular performer and an excellent teacher, Pudukode Krishnamurthy has many distinguished disciples, both in Kerala and Tamil Nadu

Palghat Rama Bhagavathar

Palghat Rama Bhagavathar was born on 5 June 1888 in Mundaya village near Shoranur, Palghat, Kerala and was a renowned Carnatic vocalist. He took his early gurukulavasam with Palghat Anantarama Bhagavathar as well as leading Carnatic exponents like Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer.He was known for his pure rendition and especially ragam Karaharapriya that was one of his favourates.His first Carnatic concert was at the Kalpathy Kasi Viswanatha Swamy Temple and ironically his last performance too was at the same venue.

He launched the Palghat (Palakkad) edition of the Thyagaraja Aradhana at Kalpathi Ram Dhyana Madam.

He passed away on 26th May 1957.

Ramnad Krishnan

Shri.Ramnad Krishnan was born on 14th September 1918 at Alleppey in Kerala.He belonged to a family of musicians, with all his brothers being accomplished artistes.He had his school education at Ramnad in Tamilnadu where he learnt music from late vidwan Shri.Ramnad Sankara Sivam (elder brother of late mridanga vidwan Ramnad shri. C S Murugaboopathy).

Later on he went to Madras inorder to up music as his profession.He was fond of all kinds of music.He had a very extensive repertoire of compositions specially of Patnam Subramanya Iyer, which he learnt from Smt. T. Brinda and Smt. T. Mukhta, grand daughters of Veena Dhannammal,Shri. N S Krishnaswamy Iyengar, disciple of Kanchipuram Naina Pillai and many other reputed musicians.His favourate ragas were varali, suruti, sahana, devagandhari, begada, kapi, hamsanadham, bahudhari, saranga.

His disciples include Ritha Rajan, Nagamani Srinath, Vegavahini Vijayaraghavan, Neyyathankara vasudevan, Nirmala Sundararajan, Janaki Sunderarajan, Usha Sagar, Natarajan, Vaidyanathan and Raghava Rao.Ramnad Krishnan also served as the faculty of the Govt. College of Carnatic Music at madras for a few years and also a visiting Professor at the Weslyn University, USA for some time where he was reverentially called "the musicians’ musician".

He passed away on the 29st January 1973.

S Kalyanaraman

Shri S. Kalyanaraman was born on 6 February 1930.He popularly known as SKR.He began his initial training under his father and later on went on to become one of the foremost disciples of G. N. Balasubramaniam and established himself as an original musician in his own right.SKR made his singing debut in 1949.He used to handle vivaadi raagas like Chandrajyothi, Sucharitra, Hamasanadam easily.He could also give Hindustani touches to certain ragas like Dwijawanthi, Brindavana Saranga and Hamir Kalyani which only enhances his reputation as a musician.

He also composed several varnams, krithis (some in ashtaragamalika format) and thillanas in both popular and vivadi ragas and like his guru, he too refrained from using a mudra.His disciples are Bhushany Kalyanaraman(his wife), Prof.Gowri Kuppuswamy, Brinda Venkataraman and the popular cine playback singer, Anuradha Sriram.

He passed away on January 9, 1994.

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer was born on July 25 1908 in a village called 'Sempongudi'(hence Semmangudi).He was born to a musical family.He began his training under his cousin Narayanaswamy Iyer and later on went on to learn from Sri Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer.He is considered to be the 'Bheeshmapitaamaha' of Carnatic Music.He was the Principal of Swathi Thirunal Academy in Travancore.During his tenure there, he took a lot of efforts in setting to tune several compositions of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal.

His most famous renditions include Deva Deva Kalayaamite,Khshinamai,Padavini,Paahi Tarakshupuraalaya,Marubaari,Vadaninne.He was also adept at singing Viruttams and neravals.He trained several students notably M S Subbalakshmi, T M Thyagarajan, T N Krishnan(violinist), Palai Ramachandran, V Subramanium, T M Krishna and many more.He was the youngest recipient of the Sangeetha Kalanidhi award which he won at the age of 38.

He passed away on October 31, 2003.

T K Rangachaary

Shri T.K.Rangachaari was born in 1912.He began his musical training under Namakkal Narasimha Iyengar.He was in the first batch of students in the Sangita Bhushanam course at Annamalai university.Among his teachers were illustrious musicians like Ponniah Pillai (a descendant of the Tanjore Quartette) and Sabesa Iyer.He has composed a thillana set to ragam Baageshri.He served as faculty member at Annamalai university for several years.

His prominent disciples include Vairamangalam Lakshminarayanan, Vidushi Neela Ramgopal.

Awards and Recognition

He won the prestigious Kala Bhushan award.He passed away in the year 1979.

T M Thyagarajan

Sri T M Thyagarajan, known as the preserver of the Thanjavur Music Tradition, was born on May 28, 1923, in Thanjavur. His forefathers were experts in the field of music and dance. His great grandfather and grandfather were both Asthana vidvans of the Baroda court. He began his initial training under his father and then from Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.His first concert was at the age of 8 at Thiruvaiyyaru.

His illustrous disciples include S. Prema, S. Jaya, O. S. Thyagarajan, Mangalam Shankar, Gowri Gokul, Lakshmi Rangarajan, Kuzhikkarai Viswalingam, S. Seetharaman, E. Gayatri, M. Narmada, Raji Gopalakrishnan, Nirmala Sunderarajan and Subhashini Parthasarathy.He also tuned several compositions of lesser known composers like Chengalvaraya Sastri, Ramaswami Sivan, Annayya, Periasami Thooran and the songs of Vallalar Ramalinga Swamigal, Thayumanavar, Ganapathi Satchidananda Swami, Guru Surajananda, Andal's Tiruppavai and Manickavasagar's Thiruvembavai.

He passed away in July 2007.

Voleti Venkateshwarulu

Sri Voleti Venkateswarulu was born on August 27, 1928 and was one of the most prominent Carnatic musicians of the 20th century. Born in Rajahmundry, he learnt music initially from Chaturvedula Achutaramaiah Sastry and later on from Sri Munuganti Venkata Rao Pantulu of Kakinada and underwent exclusive training for 3 years under Dr. Sripada Pinakapani.He served as a producer of Carnatic music at All India Radio, Vijayawada from 1966 onwards.Voleti had the great ability to sing with ease in three octaves, with absolutely pure sruthi and perfect laya.

He passed away on December 29, 1989.