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Sixty years of service to music

SAINT TYAGARAJA, according to history, visited Tirumala in 1838. It is well known that at Tirumala, he sang the two famous kritis, ``Thera Theeyaga radha'' in Gowlipanthu raga and ``Venkatesa'' in Madhyamavathi. This episode in the life of Tyagaraja was reenacted in 1988 by enterprising artistes under the auspices of Sri Thyagaraja Trust and Festival Committee, Tirupati.

A tablet inscribing the above two kritis was installed on the eastern wall of the trust building to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Saint Tyagaraja's visit to Tirupati.

Sixty years ago, prominent citizens of the hill town Tirupati founded Sri Thyagaraja Trust with the main objective of popularising the immortal kritis of the saint.

It is necessary to mention that nearly two acres of land in the heart of the Tirupati town was gifted free to the trust by Sri Venkatapathi Dikshitalu, one of the Archakam Mirasdars of Lord Venkateswara Temple at that time, to celebrate annually the Tyagaraja Utsavam and aradhana followed by a music festival and also to construct a temple for Tyagaraja for daily worship in the premises.

The festival at Tirupati in the earlier years had the good fortune of having as its chief organiser veteran vocalist Sri Chittoor Subramanya Pillai, a disciple of the illustrious Kanchipuram Naina Pillai. Among the local citizens, Sri Chittoor Subramanyam had the assistance of K. V. Subramanyam, an elementary school teacher who belonged to the family of Sri Tirupati Narayanaswami Naidu, one of the popular post-Thyagaraja composers. Under the dynamic leadership of Sri Chittoor Subramanyam, the festival has acquired stability, credibility and acceptability. The active role played by the Tirumala Tirupati Deva-sthanams, right from the beginning, has to be gratefully acknowledged on this occasion. Successive Executive Officers and TTD Chairmen have extended valuable support financially and otherwise for the successful conduct of the annual festival.

The year 1972 was a pleasant turning point. The festival committee commenced honouring an outstanding and eminent artiste with the title of ``Sapthagiri Sangeetha Vidwanmani''. Quite appropriately Sri Chittoor Subramanya Pillai was the first recipient of the award. Artistes selected so far are drawn from the four States of South India. Special mention must be made of the selection of Gangu Bai Hangal, a great exponent of Hindusthani music of Dharwar Gharana. The Thyagaraja Trust Board had the advantage of being guided by eminent local citizens, committed to music. The first chairman of the Trust Board was P. Radhapathi, advocate. He was succeeded by another leading lawyer, P.K. Vijayaraghavan.

The tenure of K. V. Subramanyam as chairman was the golden era in the history of the trust. It was during his tenure that an idol of Saint Tyagaraja (gifted by TTD) was consecrated in the premises with all religious rites by R. K. Venkateswara Sastri.

The consecration was followed by a group singing of Pancharatna kritis led by the grand old man of Carnatic music Sri Semmangudi R. Srinivasa Iyer.

The silver jubilee was celebrated in a grand manner under the presidentship of Rukmini Devi Arundale. Equally great and exciting was the golden jubilee celebrations 10 years ago when Dr. B. Gopal Reddy conferred the title of ``Sapthagiri Sangeetha Vidwanmani'' on Five Eminent Artistes.

It has been the ambition of the trust board to have an auditorium with all modern facilities.

The Trust hopes that the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu will appreciate the appeal of the citizens of Tirupati and thus earn their gratitude. Some other projects on the anvil are: a library of Carnatic music books, cassettes, etc.; a portrait gallery of stalwarts; a quarterly magazine and a music school.

The trust board has drawn up a grand fortnight of music and dance to commemorate the completion of 60 years of service to the cause of music.

The Governor of Tamil Nadu, P.S. Ramamohan Rao, will inaugurate the 60th annual festival on July 29. It has been decided to confer the title on six eminent artistes. They are Dr. K. J. Yesudas, Madurai N. Krishnan, Annavarapu Ramaswamy, Dandamudi Rammohan Rao, H. P. Ramachar and Shoba Naidu. They will be conferred the title on August by N. Gopala Swami, Secretary, Department of Culture, Government of India.

Apart from the financial support from the TTD, a number of industrialists have come forward to make the annual festival a success. One of them is P. Obul Reddy.

The festival committee of which P. Krishnaiah, Executive Officer, TTD is the president will honour Mr. Reddy on the last day of the festival, i.e. August 12 with the title ``Sangeetha Seva Siromani.''

The title will be conferred by C. V. Narasimhan, former Under Secretary General, United Nations Organisation. The festival concludes with the vocal recital of Sudha Ragunathan and Anjaneya Utsavam.

K. V. RANGANATHAN (Raghu)

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