KVN zealous guardian of musical heritage
The good fortune of K. V. Narayanaswamy was that he was nurtured by two giants, Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar and Palghat Mani Iyer, says SVKin his tribute to the vocalist who passed away early this week.
THE PASSING away of senior vidwan K. V. Narayanaswamy snaps a vital link in the greatly admired Ariyakkudi tradition. Throughout his long career KVN stoutly preserved the sampradaya foundations of music. To many he was the favoured disciple of Ramanuja Iyengar, but his foundation in music was actually laid by Palghat Mani Iyer, who remained his guardian angel at all times. Even before he joined Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar as his sishya in 1942, Palghat Mani Iyer put him under the great violinist Papa Venkataramaiah.
These early years prepared him well to grasp the essence of Ariyakkudi's music. Quite often, as K.V. Narayanaswamy has acknowledged in all interviews, from the sides as the mridangam accompanist, Mani Iyer would send signals to KVN lending voice support to note Ariyakkudi's nuances then and there and would later expatiate on it to KVN. As it should be, K.V. Narayanaswamy evolved his own technique as he became a full-fledged vidwan. Over the years, his voice gained mellowness and his melodious modulation transformed the kirtanas into glowing edifices of expression. In raga alapanas it gained spatial finesse full of grace and suppleness. His rendering of the songs ``Enneramum'' (Devagandhari) ``Varugalamo'' (Maanji), to cite one or two, remains firmly etched in the minds of rasikas.
K.V. Narayanaswamy was not satisfied with the surface beauty of a raga or song, but always probed its depth to bring out with great feeling the intense emotional contents. He always had a reverential vision of ragas and kirtanas so much so his performances have always been essays in anubhava both to him and to the listeners. This, he was able to achieve, through his instinctive perception of the subtle in lyrical articulation. His cutcheries went beyond mere aesthetic concerns and held aloft the treasures of our musical heritage.
A significant break came in his career when he substituted for Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar at the Music Academy in 1954 to the accompaniment of the two who shaped initially his musical sensitivities -- Papa Venkataramaiah and Palghat Mani Iyer. No doubt, many eyebrows were raised then, but KVN never looked back and scaled great heights confirming that his Academy presence was not a chance, but a significant turning point in his career.
Born in 1923, his career spanning decades brought honours to him in abundance. He had participated in several music festivals abroad and undertook teaching assignments at the Wesleyan University in U.S. and later in 1974-75 he taught at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Berkeley, California. He was conferred the Sangita Kalanidhi title in 1986 and Sangita Kala Sikhamani by the Indian Fine Arts Society. He became a Padma Sri in 1976 and received the Sangeetha Natak Akademi award in 1977.
If the music is really great the musician will be remembered by posterity and K. V. Narayanaswamy certainly belonged to the galaxy of such vidwans.
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