Carnatic music recently lost two great souls - T Sankaran, the grandson of the legendary Vina Dhanammal and Tirupparkkadal Veeraraghavan, the veteran violinist. A tribute...



T Sankaran, the grandson of Vina Dhanammal and a cousin of such stalwarts as Brinda-Mukta, T Balasaraswati and T Viswanathan, was a personality in his own right. Born on 21st June 1906, he was a life-long student of the twin arts of music and dance. A scholar devoted as much to karna-parampara as to the dust-covered tomes of antiquity, a collector of rare compositions, a walking who-was-who in music and dance with a ready knowledge of where nuggets of information on them lay buried, an erstwhile broadcasting executive with memories of incidents involving the great as well as the small, a penman who brought to life many a musician, composer and dancer of the misty past, a songster who could himself render pada-s and javali-s in the style patented by his revered grandmother, a man who was proud of his heritage, Sankaran was a torch-bearer of the great Tanjavur tradition in the arts.

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His Bachelors Degree in History and Economics, helped him try careers outside of this tradition as a teacher. He taught English, History and Geography at schools in Kanchipuram, Chidambaram and Madras. He worked at the Cochin Harbour for 3 years. In 1939, at one of his vocal recitals in the All India Radio, Trichy station, the Station Director was so impressed with his performance that he promptly hired him as a Staff Artiste. Thus began a long career in various capacities. He was soon promoted as Programme Assistant in 1940 and progressed to higher positions thereafter. He served as Assistant Station Director of various stations like Vijayawada, Trichy, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Madras and New Delhi. On his retirement from AIR in 1961, he moved on quickly to Raja Annamalai Manram, the home for the Tamil Isai Sangam, Madras.

A pandit of puns as well as a purveyor of pungent humour, he was a contributing Editor to the Sruti magazine, till his death. His articles have also appeared in other popular magazines like Kalaimagal, Sangeet Natak, Shanmukha and the Journal of the Indian Musicological Society. He contributed to the promotion of the arts by serving on the committees of the Sangeet Natak Akademi at the Central and State levels. A son of Dhanammal's daughter Lakshmiratnam and her spouse A V Swaminathan, T Sankaran mostly learnt music from her mother but received instructions from Mechari Sundara Sastri too, who was a violinist and disciple of Kanchipuram Naina Pillai. Many front-ranker including M S Subbulakshmi, D K Pattammal and Papa Venkataramaiah have learnt some compositions from him.

(Source: Samudri Archives)



Born at Tiruvallur on 23rd May 1930, Veeraraghavan learnt music from the age of ten under his father Tirupparkkadal Srinivasa Iyengar, who was a highly respected musician. He made his debut at a very young age when he accompanied Ramnad Krishnan at Bhavani. Ever since, he has accompanied several stalwarts and youngsters, in a career spanning over five decades. He was a popular violinist, liked by musicians and music-lovers alike for his able support at concerts.

"He was well-known for his 'Tanavil' * and was a specialist in Tanam playing", said vidwan Vellore Ramabhadran, the veteran mridangist and a good friend of Tirupparkkadal Veeraraghavan, when contacted by Carnatica's correspondent. Ramabhadran also added that he was a simple, pious, disciplined man and that the music world has indeed lost a great vidwan.

Veeraraghavan's long career took him far and wide, within India and also to various countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, USA and Europe. A recipient of several awards, he died of heart attack on an auspicious day, Vaikunta Ekadasi - 6th January 2001, although he was under treatment for cancer the last couple of years.

* Tanavil - A special type of bowing technique for Tanam renditions.

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