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Guest : Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan is a phenomenon and a class by himself. He is popular as a top rank performer, an innovator.

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan is a phenomenon and a class by himself. He is popular as a top rank performer, an innovator, an able administrator and an artiste of varied interests. He was born to Sri Ramaswamy Sastri and Smt. Meenakshi in 1935 at Kunnakudi; His father was an erudite scholar in Sanskrit, Tamil and Carnatic Music and a great composer and exponent of Carnatic Music and Katha-kalakshepam. So, for Vaidyanathan, Vedha Sastram and Music have become the main discipline besides schooling. His first debut was at the age of ten. He accompanied stalwarts like Shri Ariyakudi, Shri Semmangudi and Shri Maharajapuram.

Sri Vaidyanathan mastered the Violin and his play reflects his own different moods and the demands of his audience with whom he establishes and enjoys rapport. He dwells with ease and competence at the highest and the lowest octaves. He was one the first few to take the art to the scholars and to the layman equally. Sri.Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan joined the film orchestra with Modern Theatres, Salem. In 1963, his knowledge in Carnatic music and the light music helped him to join in HMV as a freelance music director mainly for producing devotional songs. For HMV he has scored more than 780 records sung by all leading artists. Since 1965, Tamil 'Hit' film songs on violin were recorded by AVM. He was much sought after music director since 1968. The feature film 'Todi', his full length presentation of rich music with T.N. Seshagopalan was a great success.

As an artiste, Sri.Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan has had a hectic and varied life. An able administrator, he continues to be the secretary of the Shri Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha, Tiruvaiyaru, a post he has successfully held for the past 25 years.

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan has deep faith in the therapeutical merits of music. At the age of 15, he played the raga Bhairavi for some hours on his violin, at the instance of Dr. Ganapati Subramanyam of Karaikudi, by the side of the latter's father who was in coma. The patient slowly regained consciousness and lived for a decade. He prayed for rain in ragas Mega Ranjani, Jalarnavam and Amirtha varshini and recently organized a Tsunami relief also.

Awards & Titles

Over the years, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan has won more than 200 awards and titles - for his virtuosity on the violin, for his creative interpretations of thematic and devotional subjects, for the music composed/ directed by him for films, etc. He is a Member, South Zone Cultural Centre-Government of India since 1986. He has toured worldwide including Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Here is a short non-exhaustive list :

1. Bharatha Violin Vadya Bhaskara, given by Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's spiritual guru, Pudukotai Sadguru Sree Santhanandha Swamigal of Buvaneshwari Peedam.

2. Akashwani Awards- 1981 and 1987

3. Deiviga Isai Tendral

4. Innisai Vendar

5. Isai Chakravarthi, awarded by the Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan Rasikar Anbu Kuzhu, Madurai.

6. Isai Perarignar, awarded by the Tamil Isai Sangam, Madras- 1989.

7. Kalaimamani, awarded by the Tamil Nadu Government, Madras.

8. Nada Brahmam, awarded by the Narada Gana Sabha, Madras.

9. Pannisai Arasu, awarded by the Tamizh Isai Sangam, Tiruvaiyaru.

10. Sangeetha Ratna, the Mysore Chowdiah Memorial award given by the Academy of Music, Bangalore.

11. Sangeetha Sagaram, awarded by the Cultural Centre for Performing Arts, Madras. Along with the title, Vaidyanathan received a silver violin- 1988.

12. Tantrinadamani, awarded by the Sankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.

13. Tirai Isai Mannar, awarded by the Saurashtra Isai Rasikar Sangam Maduai.

14. Varuna Mazhai Vaidyanathan awarded in Salem in recognition of his feat demonstrating that Music has the power of controlling nature.

15. Villisai Vendan, awarded by the Nellai Rasanandam Nalvazhi Nilayam, Madras.

16. Violin Chakravarti, awarded by the Cholavandan Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan Rasigar Anbukuzhu.

17. Violin Everest, awarded by the organizers of the Tiruvaiyaru Kakitakara Teru Mariamman Festival.

18. Violin Kalaratna, awarded by the Tiruppavai-Tiruvembavai Music School, Madurai, during its anniversary celebrations.

19. Violin Samrat, awarded by the Delhi Karnataka Sangeeta Sabha.

20. Yezhisai Chakravarti, awarded by the Priya Cultural Academy, Madras.

21. Yezhisai Enthal, awarded by the Sree Krishna Chaitanya Math near Nagercoil. This was the very first title awarded to Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan.

22. Violin Isai Chakravarti, awarded by the Federation of Sabha-s in 1992. Vaidyanathan was presented with a gold violin, made of 25 sovereigns of gold, to mark his silver jubilee year as a solo violinist.

23. Yezhisai Selvan.

24. Asthana Vidwan, Kanchi Kamakoti Math- 1987

25. Asthana Vidwan, Sringeri Math.

26. Asthana Vidwan, Tiruvavaduturai Adheenam.

27. State Artist (1984-1987). Appointed by the Tamil Nadu Government.

28. Padmashri 2005 - Government of India.

Contribution to the AIR

Sri.Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan gave a solo violin concert for the All India Radio in December 1947. In the following years he climbed the musical ladder at AIR through Grade C, Grade B, Grade B-high and Grade A, finally reaching the A-top grade. He has given special performances at AIR stations in Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Mangalore, Kozhikode, Bhadravati, Bangalore, Tirunelveli, Pondicherry, Trichy, Coimbatore, Madurai, Nagarcoil, Trissoor, Tiruvanantapuram and other places. He has contributed as a music composer for Vadya Vrinda

In general, a Vadya-Vrinda comprises several musicians and the composers usually present a composition based on a specific raga. However, in over 30 Vadya Vrinda programs that Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan composed and conducted, he has always taken up a subject which has a theme or story and involves a mellifluous blend of all the instruments. The programmes that won great appreciation include: Manushyatvam, Mohanam, Ragamum Neramum, Makara Jyoti, Indian Thoughts, Baratidasan's Kudumba Vilakku, and Raga Bheda Tala Bheda Sruti Bheda Swaram.

As a light music composer for AIR, Sri.Vaidyanathan has composed the music for Kannadasan's songs about the 12 Tamil months and also presented a number of songs under the title 'Pallu Paaduvomey' Sri.Kunnnakudi Vaidyanathan adapted the 20-point programme of the Indira Gandhi Government and, using the lyrics scored by Kaviyarasar Kannadasan, I composed the music for it. This was presented with 20 musicians and won the appreciation of the masses. 'Desa Munnetram' comprising 50 patriotic songs were sung by the late legendary singer-cum-actor T.R. Mahalingam under the direction of Sri. Vaidyathan.

In 1981, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan produced a unique presentation titled Cauvery in which he brought out the beauty of the river, its splendor and its serenity. He captured the excitement of youngsters traveling in a boat, elephants trumpeting birds screeching and so on. He projected al the sights and sounds, emotions and feelings exquisitely through his violin. The music he composed and played actually had a 'visual impact' on the listeners.

Cassette and CD's a non - exhaustive Catalogue

S.No Title Company
1. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan - Carnatic RPG-HMV
2. Cauvery RPG-HMV
3. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan-Violin RPG-HMV
4. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan-Instrumental RPG-HMV
5. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan & Valayapatty A.R.Subramaniam RPG-HMV
6. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan-Classical RPG-HMV
7. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan & Valayapatty A.R.Subramaniam RPG-HMV
8. Nadhadhwani RPG-HMV
9. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan-Violin RPG-HMV
10. Film Tunes on Violin RPG-HMV
11. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan-Violin RPG-HMV
12. Aadaludan Paadal RPG-HMV
13. Saadhinchane(Pancharatna Krithis on Violin) RPG-HMV
14. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan-Violin RPG-HMV
15. Ragam- Tanam-Pallavi RPG-HMV
16. Puthiya Vaanam Puthiya Bhoomi RPG-HMV
17. Anandam Paramanandam RPG-HMV
18. Masterpieces of Maestros RPG-HMV
19. 2-Cassette Pack RPG-HMV
20. 2-Cassette Pack Sangeetha
21. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan-Carnatic Instrumental Sangeetha
22. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan- Violin Sangeetha
23. Violin Duo Sangeetha
24. Violin Trio Sangeetha
25. Tillanas in Violin Sangeetha
26. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan-Classical AVM
27. Kunnakudi Violin-Rajnikanth Film tunes AVM
28. Chitthiram Pesudhadi AVM
29. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan-Uyarndha Ullam Film Tunes AVM
30. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan-Kamalhassan Film Tunes AVM
31. Best of Kunnakudi Koel
32. Colours Golden Krithis BMC crescendo
33. Expressions KMI
34. Gems of Kunnakudi Silver Disc
35. Kokiladhwani Silver Disc
36. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan Vani
37. Pancharathna Krithis Pyramid
38. Violin Shankar
39. Violin and Thavil Vani
40. Violin and Thavil Inreco pyramid
41. Rithu Raga Music of Seasons Sagar
42. Guruji's Sampradaya Bhajans Kosmic
43. Sarasija nabha Sodhari - 2 volumes Kosmic
44. Raga Deepam-Gems of Dikshithar RPG
45. Collections of Celebrated Artists - Vol 3 Golden Collections
46. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanthan - Live - Rama Ika Nannu
47. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanthan - Live at paris Kosmic
48. Inspirations Kosmic
49. Navarasa Navaraga Thillanas Kosmic
50. Instrumental Marvels RPG-HMV
51. Aadaludan Paadal RPG-HMV
52. Thyagaraja Pancharathnam On Violin RPG-HMV
53. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan and Valayapatty A.R.Subramaniam RPG-HMV
54. KunnakudiVaidhyanathan-Violin Sangeetha
55. Hamsa Geethe Sagar
56. Kunnakudi Vaidhyanthan-Classical Geethanjali
57. Great Masters-KavirajaPancharathnam Dreams Audio
58. Concert for Peace EMI India
59. Naadha Sambrahma- An Orchestral celebration Sagar
60. Great Masters Dreams Audio
61. Expressions Sruthilaya
62. Vibrations Vani
63. Nadha Layam Indu Musik
64. Andrum Indrum AVM
65. Nadhavinodham AVM
66. Kavadi Chindu Music Today
67. Skanda Shashti Kavacham Music Today
68. Morning to Midnight ragas HMV

His Devotional Music

Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan has been involved in presenting a variety of devotional music as well. He has composed the famous film hit 'Thiruparam kundratthil nii sirithal'. He subsequently composed music for 'Deivam' and 'Thiruvalrul'; these efforts brought him the title Deiveega Isai Thendral. Kunnakudi Sri Vaidyanathan can effortlessly play Rudram Chamakam and Ghanam on the violin. He attributes this to his learned father Sri.Ramaswami Sastrigal who has inspired him to play Vedas on Violin. His audio cassette 'Sakti Chakram' popularized him much.

An Able Administrator

Sri.Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan has been Secretary of Tyaga Brahma Mahotsava Sabha in Tiruvaiyaru for the last 25 years. He is credited with many solid achievements and he feels the Tyaga Brahmam himself has been guiding him. When asked about his experiences Sri.Vaidyanathan narrated the following unforgettable incident:

'Once, during the aradhana festival a few years ago, I arranged for the funds needed to serve food to visitors with a great deal of difficulty. That year there was a shortage of food supplies. I did not quite know how to solve the problem. I took a dip in the Kaveri and went into the sanctum sanctorum of the Samadhi. I prayed fervently to the Brahmam to show mercy and give me a solution to the problem. Within the next 10 minutes, one of my assistants came and told to me that a lorry had arrived and that its driver wanted to see me. Wondering why a lorry should come there at that hour, I went to check. I found that the lorry contained not only sacks and sacks of rice but also enough cereals, pulses and other essentials to last the entire aradhana festival. Filled with joy, I asked the driver in wonder who had sent all this and he told me that all the food items had been sent by my childhood friend Kulithalai Gopala Desikan, a mirasdar. Incidentally, the lorry had the words Sree Rama Jayam painted on it! I offered my heartfelt and grateful thanks to the Brahmam within my heart, to whom I turn to whenever I have any difficulty.'

Sri.Vaidyanathan serves also as the Trustee of the Bangalore Nagarathnammal Trust in Tiruvaiyaru and also serves as Chairman of the Eyal Isai Nataka Manram of Tamil Nadu for over seven years. 'Singing in the `Goshtiganam' style of the Tiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana, all senior and junior musicians have been working with him in his endeavours' says the maestro.

Raga Research

Violin maestro Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan founded the organization, the Raga Research Centre. Raga Research Centre (24661914/24333330) has been functioning for 14 years with financial aid from the Tamil Nadu Government. The Centre, headed by Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan, has two panels, one has musicians and the other comprises non-musicians.

According to him, "Music can work wonders". "The forces of nature could be activated through music, like Tansen who lit a lamp with the help of a Raga" 'Here music is analyzed in the context of Vedha, Music of the Sangam period, astrology, psychiatry, physics, biochemistry and so on. The clue to take a particular raga for research is from the compositions of the Carnatic music trinity and then they go backwards looking for its source, who gave it the name or how it was derived, the power of each swara in the raga and so on. Each Raga has a face and form and it is known as 'Ragadevata' adds the maestro.

Dr.Kunnakudi has led the efforts with musicians playing Nadaswarams, flutes, violins, mridangams, morsinghs and ghatams chipping in, welcoming rains and has organized a number of benefit-concerts. While there are many Ragas that have the power to invoke rains like Megharanjani, Varunapriya or Jalarnavam, the joint effort by all like-minded musicians would prove a successful effort, Mr. Vaidyanathan says.

We, at Naadhabrahmam salute this great master who has conquered the world with his efforts in any field he entered!! We from Naadhabrahmam wish the music emperor a very happy 70th year.

Compilation- A. Bhavadhaarini.

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