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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pillai’s Magudi magic

A tribute to nagaswaram vidwan Tiruvenkadu Subramania Pillai, whose birth anniversary was celebrated recently 


V. Balasubramanian writes.April 26 marked the 110th birth anniversary of the nagaswara vidwan Tiruvenkadu Subramania Pillai. Hailing from a family of nagaswaram artists, Subramanai Pillai was groomed in the art by his uncle Samidurai Pillai, after he lost his father, M. Paramanathan Pillai, at a very young age. Subramania Pillai started performing from the age of 10 alongside his uncle.The other nagaswaram stalwarts during his days were Tiruveezhimizhalai Brothers, Sembanarkoil Brothers and Tiruvidaimarudur P.S. Veerusamy Pillai.

As a nagaswaram player Subramania Pillai was well known for his spontaneity and his concerts were incomplete without the famous ‘Magudi,’ and his name almost became synonymous with it. Mahaperiyava of Kanchi honoured him with the title ‘Swetaranya Punnaga Nadhamani’. He was also honoured with titles by many mutts including Dharmapuram, Tiruvavaduthurai and Tiruppananthal. His vidwat earned him a name even outside the country, such as in Srilanka, Malaysia and Singapore.

The first concert on the inaugural day of the Madras station of All India Radio, was by Subramania Pillai. He was also the first nagaswara vidwan to receive the Sangeet Natak Academy award. The Tamizh University of Thanjavur conferred on him the Honorary Doctorate. Never before was any nagaswara vidwan given such an honour.Tiruvenkaataar, as he was also known, introduced the tambura and violin as accompaniments at his nagaswara concerts. He accompanied Madurai Somasundaram in several concerts as a ganjira vidwan.

His son Sundaranathan informs that his father was accompanied by doyens of thavil such as Kumbakonam Thangavelu Pillai, Malaikottai Panchami Thavilkar and Needamanagalam Meenakshisundaram Pillai. He adds “My brother Selvarathinam took to vocal music. He got trained under Madurai Mani Iyer. Unfortunately he passed away death snatched him away early. I entered Government service.”Kottur Rajarathinam and Ganesan are Subramania Pillai’s disciples. A sincere musician, Pillai was deeply concerned about nagaswara artists. After dedicating almost six decades of his life to music, nagaswaram particularly, he passed away at the age of 80.

His grand daughter, Dr. Kala Rani, and her husband S. Maniharan (IAS Retd.) have instituted a fund through a trust which honours every year two artists from the nagaswaram-thavil artist community with a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 each during the nagaswaram festival, at Brahma Gana Sabha. This year the festival was held in memory of Tiruvenkaataar. Sembanarkoil S.R.G. Rajanna and Achalapuram Chiinathambi were honoured. Subramania Pillai’s family also offers financial assistance to deserving students of nagaswaram to buy the instrument.

Forwarded By: Jainender Nigam,PB NewsDesk ,news.prasarbharati@gmail.com

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