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Multi-faceted musician

B. RAJAM Iyer is a musician of many parts — scholar, concert artiste and musicologist. Born in 1922, he had the good fortune, when he was only 15 years old, to be accepted as a disciple by the legendary Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar in 1937.

His musical talents were shaped by Iyengar's influence, representing a musical parampara going back to saint Tyagaraja. The Iyengar patanthara, always crisp and to the point, with no over-elaboration of sangathis, and rendering of alapana and swara prasthara to bring out the essence of the Raga Bhava, has remained with Rajam Iyer as Iyengar's musical legacy. His collaboration with the eminent scholar and outstanding jurist, T. L. Venkatarama Iyer, led to the popularisation of many rare and beautiful compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar. Iyengar himself included these kritis in his concerts, giving them the authentic stamp of his genius.

Naturally, Rajam Iyer is the inheritor of the Tiruppavai and Rama nataka kritis which Iyengar had set to music. Rajam Iyer also developed, side by side with a busy concert schedule, his interest in the theoretical and lakshana aspects of Carnatic music.

He is an outstanding teacher, and his pedagogic career can only be described as unique: Professor of Musicology in the Tamil Nadu Government College of Music from 1966 to 1981, and Principal of the Teachers' College of Music, affiliated to the Music Academy, from 1983 till his voluntary retirement recently. He has undertaken many lecture tours and conducted workshops in the U.K., U.S., and Canada.

His honours are too numerous to list here, but let me mention the Kalaimamani award in 1981, the National Award for Carnatic Music of the Sangeeth Natak Akademi in 1986, and the Sangita Kalanidhi award of the Music Academy in 1987.

Rajam Iyer's 80 birthday is being celebrated by his family on May 31. I join his many friends and admirers in offering felicitations.

C. V. NARASIMHAN

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