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Baluswami Dikshitar (1786 - 1859)

Baluswami Dikshitar is believed to be the pioneer who introduced violin to Carnatic Music.

Baluswami Dikshitar was the son of Ramaswami Dikshitar, the scholar-composer and a brother of Muthuswami Dikshitar, one of the Carnatic musical trinity. He was a multi-faceted personality who could play on the family asset of the veena, besides swarabat, sitar and mridangam.

Baluswami Dikshitar was profusely decorated and honoured by the patrons of music. From 1825, he was the Asthana vidwan of Ettayapuram. He was also the music tutor of the Raja of Ettayapuram. Baluswamy Dikshitar gave a number of concerts along with his brother Chinnaswamy Dikshitar. The brothers are stated to be the first among duos of prominence known in history.

Vadivelu (1810 – 1845)

Vadivelu is one of the illustrious members of the famous Tanjore Quartet (Chinniah, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu). The quartet were taken by their father (Mahadeva Annavi, himself an accomplished veena player) to Muthuswami Dikshitar for advanced musical training.

Vadivelu learnt violin under a European missionary at Tanjore. Vadivelu was a musical genius and he popularised the use of violin in Carnatic Music Concerts. He was the best loved of the artistes of Swati Tirunal, and he became the asthana vidwan at the age of 14. A scholar in Tamil and Telugu, he was also a distinguished vocalist, violinist, composer and bharathanatyam exponent.

Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer (1857- 1913)

One of the legendary violinists in the history of Carnatic music, he had his training first from his father Kuppuswamy Iyer, and later under Kottavasal Venkatarama Iyer, a renowned composer of Tana Varnams. His violin recitals were marked with masterly touches, full of masculine grandeur. A prodigy, he could play complicated pieces on a single string. Known for his hard work, he was responsible for ushering in many new techniques to the art of violin playing. He could produce ascending and descending glides (Jarus) with remarkable effect. His was a legendary musician among peers that included Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer, Patnam Subramaniam Iyer and Sarabha Sastri. His stature and musicianship were such that he could dominate the performance while being an accompanist. He had an awe inspiring and intimidating.

Malaikottai Govindaswami Pillai (1879 - 1931)

Govindaswami Pillai had his initial training in vocal and violin under Umayalpuram Panchapakesa Ayyar and later under Ettayapuram Kothandapani Bhagavathar, brother of the renowned Ramachandra Bhagavathar.

Renowned for his vibrant playing style, Govindaswami Pillai could also play the flute and the mridangam. His graceful touches, his polished play, the sweetness and purity of his notes, his superb rendering of kritis, his exquisite finish and the ease and freedom in all the three octaves and the three degrees of speed, made him a great violinist of his times. According to the musicologist Prof. P. Sambamurthi.

'Govindaswami Pillai had an innate artistic consciousness and looked both to the intellectual and the emotional aspects of music.'

PARUR SUNDARAM IYER (1891. December 1964)

He learnt violin under Trivandrum Ramaswamy Bhagavather, Asthana Vidwan of Travancore Palace. Once, when he was performing in Cochin, Sait Govindanaik, a great connoisseur of music heard the concert, was very pleased with his performance and sent Sundaram Iyer to Mumbai, where he was introduced to Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, principal, Gandharva Maha Vidhyalaya. Panditji appointed Sundaram Iyer as professor of violin and also taught him Hindustani Music. Thus violin was first introduced in Hindustani Music in 1909 by Sundaram Iyer. In 1916, he was awarded a gold medal and a Certificate of Proficiency. In 1922, he proceeded to Chennai. He was a Faculty Member of the University of Madras in the Music Department. He created a new style of playing the violin known as the Parur style.

Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu (1893 -1964)

Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu was born in November (Deepavali day), in Bangalore, India and was raised in Visakhapatnam. He was appointed Professor of violin in the Maharaja's Music College in Vijayanagaram, at the young age of 26, and became its principal in 1936. he was the first one to start the violin solo concerts. His first solo concert was given in Vellore in 1938.

He was partially blind. He played at the National Physical Laboratory auditorium, New Delhi in 1952, to raise funds for the Blind Relief Association.

Yehudi Menuhin, a world renowned violinist, was greatly impressed when he heard Dwaram play at Justice P.V. Rajamannar's house. The famous playback singer Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao learned Carnatic music under Naidu. He was known for his extremely well developed soft bowing technique combined with a firm fingering technique.

T.K.JAYARAMAIYER (May 18 1894 - June 20 1971)

TKJ was born on May 18 1894 in Kuttalam, a village in Tanjore district. His was a family with a musical background. His father, Kuppuswami Iyer was a violinist, Sanskrit scholar, and a Harikatha performer. TKJ showed a flair for music and languages at a very early age. As a schoolboy, TKJ developed a liking for the violin and requested his father to teach him the instrument. Interestingly, he was also an accomplished Jalatarangam player, an art he learnt from Anayampatti Subbaiyer. TKJ had his schooling at Sirkazhi and matriculated in 1911. He began his career as a government employee at Manapparai and then at Madurai. In 1915, TKJ married Vijayambal, who became a source of inspiration and strength and a partner in his quest for knowledge till the very end of his life.

Mysore Tirumakudalu Chowdiah (Born – 1895 – 1967)

He designed the seven-stringed violin to ensure that the accompanist could match the vocalist (the need for this was felt especially in the early and mid-20th century when no amplification devices were available). He was known as Piteelu Chowdiah - Piteelu being the word for violin in South Indian languages such as Kannada and Telugu. As he hailed from Tirumakudalu Narasipura near Mysore, so he is also known as Mysore T. Chowdiah.


He was a classicist. He never indulged in acrobatics or sudden thrusts and flashes. Bred on the banks of the river Cauvery, his play imitated its majesty while it is brimful and in full flow. It was dignified, masterly, chaste and satisfying. Violin in his hands found harmony and established close identify with the musician and rarely sought to carve out any distinct identity. The success of the concert was his concern. He was pleasing in manners, unostentatious on the stage and magnificient in play. Had a good personality. He would play for juniors also. He had played for all top artistes. Rajamanickam Pillai was honoured at the Courts of Ramnad, Cochin, Ettayapuram, Travancore and Mysore. He was Asthana Vidwan at Travancore in 1940 and at Ettayapuram in 1942. He had been the recipient of Sangita Natak Academy Award in 1959, Isai Perarignar from the Tamil Isai Sangham and Sangita Kalanidhi from the Music Academy in 1948. Once he got an elephant as a gift and donated it to Sri Adi Kumbheswara Temple, Kumbakonam. His disciples included M.M.Dandapani Desikar and Govindaraja Pillai.

PAPA VENKATARAMIAH – (September 12, 1901 - March 17, 1972)

Related to the famous Karur Quartet, Mathrubhutayya and Karur Chinnaswami Ayyah (1888-1967) - a galaxy of composers and violinists, Papa Venkataramiah was a renowned violinist in the field along with the giants like Dwaram, Chowdiah and Rajamanickam Pillai. Son of Karur Srikantiah, Venkatramiah was a polished accompanist and an occasional soloist. He had his musical training under his father, Karur Chinnaswami Ayyah and Malaikottai Govindaswamy Pillai. He had been accompanying the top artistes of the day and was known for his sweet and expressive play. He was very keen about sruti alignment and perfection.

RR Keshavamurthy (1914 - 2006)

He was popularly known specialised in the seven stringed violin. RRK was a student of Bidaram Krishnappa, the Guru of the violinist Mysore T. Chowdiah. He was a legend of seven stringed violin, and the only performing seven stringed violinist to have lived well into the 21st century. He produced senior musicians like T. Rukmini, Bhuvaneshawaraih and Anoor Ramakrishna.

RRK trained a number of young musicians and is the author of a dozen books on music. He was known for his rigorous practice and discipline. Today's other performing students trained by RRK include Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth, Nalina Mohan, Jyotsna Manjunath. RRK presented many papers on the subject of violin playing and violin fingering techniques. He had commanded a unique position in the field of carnatic music.

R. R. Keshavamurthy was addressed with the title Sangeeta Vidya Sagara more frequently than others. He received many other titles such as Sangeetha Kala Rathna and Nada Bheeshma Vidwan.

He was not celebrated much during his life time. He was known for his terse and tough expressions. A trust in his name is being formed.

Sri M.S. Anantharaman (Born on 26th August 1924)

Shri.Anantharaman had his musical training under his father Guru Prof. Parur A. Sundaram Iyer. His first performance was at the tender age of seven at Sri Thyagaraja Vidwat Samajam, Mylapore. Over a period of six decades, Shri Anantharaman has accompanied all the stalwarts of Carnatic music - Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Sri.G.N. Balasubramanian, Sri. Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Smt..D.K. Pattammal, Sri. Maharajapuram Santhanam, Sri.K.V.Narayanaswami, just to name a few.shri Anantharaman has also acquired formal training in Hindustani music from his father and has accompanied Hindustani stalwarts like Pt. Omkarnath Takur, Pt. Vinayakrao Patwardhan and many others. Besides performing as an accompanist, he has also given many solo and duet concerts along with his father and brother, Sri. M.S. Gopalakrishnan. Sri. Anantharaman and Sri. Gopalakrishnan have performed a violin duet concert in the Royal Palace of Nepal, as a special invitee of the King.

Kandadevi Alagiriswamy (born on 21 April 1925- 13-10-2000)

He had his initial training from 1936 under his grandfather, Srinivasa Ayyangar and Kandadevi Chellam Ayyangar. In 1940, he switched over to T.Chowdiah for advanced training in violin.

Made his debut by accompanying in the solo concert at Mysore of T.Chowdiah and immediately on April 10, 1942 accompanied Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar at Devakottai. Religious and modest, he has been a popular vidwan. Honours: 'Thandi nada Visharadha' - Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. 'Kalaimamani' - Tamilnadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram, Chennai.

T. N. Krishnan (6 October 1928)

TN Krishnan, a child prodigy, made his debut concert at the age of eight. At younger age he accompanied the legends like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri, Alathur Brothers, Chembai and Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer.

Krishnan first arrived in Madras with Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer who installed him in the care of Sri R. Aiyadurai, a prominent industrialist, philanthropist and connoisuer of Carnatic Music. Mr. Aiyadurai and his wife Smt. Thangam Aiyadurai welcomed the young Krishnan in to their home as their own. The Krishnan family and the Aiyadurai family share close ties till date.

His performance gives the importance he gave to expressional restraint. He scans the ragas with an eye on beauteous light and shade. In the present generation of musicians, he is one of the few instrumentalists who can provide this experience to listeners and create in their minds nostalgic memories of a bygone era. He travels extensively on musical tours all over the world.

Lalgudi Jayaraman (Born – 1930)

At the early age of 12 he started his musical career as an accompanying violinist.

Being endowed with rich imagination, quick grasp and an ability to adapt easily to the individual styles of the leading maestros in Carnatic music while accompanying them in their concerts, he reached the forefront in rapid strides. The rich concert experience he thus gained, coupled with sheer hard work and perseverance and the strong urge to give original expression to the musical ideas surging in him, he emerged as a solo violinist of rare brilliance.

He revolutionised the style of violin playing by inventing a whole new technique that is designed to best suit the needs of Indian Classical Music and establishing a unique style that came to be known as 'Lalgudi Bani'. His flawless and fascinating style, graceful and original, yet not divorced from traditional roots gained him numerous fans. This multi dimensional personality have to his credit composed several 'kritis', 'tillanas' and 'varnams' and dance compositions, which are a scintillating blend of raga, bhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. The unique feature about Lalgudi is that his music is very expressive. Lalgudi's instrumental genius comes to the fore in the form of lyrical excellence. He brought the most-sought-after vocal style into violin, and his renditions exhibit knowledge of lyrical content of the compositions.

M.S. Gopalakrishnan (born June 10, 1931)

MSG learnt violin from his father, late Professor Parur Sundaram Iyer, who was well versed in the two systems of Indian Classical Music, i.e. North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic) systems. MSG learnt both systems from his father and gave his first performance along with his father at age of eight. A soloist and accompanist, MSG has been in the music arena for over fifty years playing both Hindustani and Carnatic Music. MSG has done vast research on violin playing techniques. He has developed a new unique style called the "Parur style". He is a versatile violin artiste famous for playing melodies, speed, special fingering technique, and bowing technique. His violin tonal quality will be clear, and audience can clearly hear the swarams thus making it more melodious. He has won numerous awards including the Padma Sri, Kalaimamani, Sangeetha Kalanidhi and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award.

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan (Born - March 2, 1935 - September 8, 2008)

The Violin was his forte. Known for the dexterity and subtlety in handling the violin, he catered not only to the music scholar but also to the layman. His play reflected his own different moods and the demands of his audience with whom he established and enjoyed a good rapport. He dwelled with ease and competence in the high as well as the low octaves.

At the young age of 12, he accompanied great stalwarts like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Maharajapuram Santhanam in concerts. He also performed with legendary Nadaswaram vidwans like T.N.Rajarathinam Pillai and Thiruvenkadu Subramania Pillai.

He stopped accompanying vocal artistes in 1976 to concentrate more on solo concerts. He was famous for his fingering techniques on the violin. His interest in new attempts and innovations led him to work with veteran thavil vidwan Valayapatti Subramanian. They performed over 3,000 shows together which were also very successful.

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan had deep faith in the therapeutic merits of music.


Mangathayaru inherits th elegacy of the 'Dwaram' family fromher father and guru, Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu of considerable renown. She was accompanying her father from 1954 to 1964.

At the age of five, she began playing a quarter-sized violin. Studied under Varahur Muthuswami Ayyar and Sandhyavandanam Srinivasa Rao. Got her diploma in Music from the Maharajah's College, Vizianagaram and also taught there during 1973-74. A staff artiste, All India Radio since 1975. Her brother, Dwaram Satyanarayana and she were playing together and both had toured Germany, Holland and Switzerland.

Sikkil Bhaskaran (Born-4 May 1936)

Son of R.Rajagopala and R. Vedavalli and grandson of Ramaswami Pillai, a Bharatanatya exponent and recipient of the title of 'Kalaimamani' and 'Sangita Nataka Academy Award'. Bhaskaran was born at Sikkil. Learnt violin under Tiruvarur Subba Ayyar initially and then under the violin maestro, Mayavaram Govindaraja Pillai for seven years. Then he had his tutelage under Sangita Kalanidhi Rajamanickam Pillai. Made his debut at Kumbakonam as 'second to his master, Rajamanickam Pillai and independently as accompanist to the Pozhagudi Brothers. Got the prizes for young artiste from the Indian Fine Arts Society and in 1961 from the Music Academy, Madras for the 'Junior Artiste of the Year' with a gold medal. He is on the staff of the AIR since 1976 and has been accompanying leading vidwans in sabhas and on the AIR for over thirty-four years. A good violinist known for his soft and pleasing play with rich ragha bhava, improvisation and balanced swara exposition, he has been the recipient of several awards.

M.CHANRASEKARAN (11TH December 1937)

Mohan Chandrasekaran is a top rank Violin Maestro in the World of India Classical Music, whose career has entered the sixth decade. Sri M. Chandrasekaran was born in a family of traditional musicians on the 11th December 1937.

Sri Chandrasekaran has provided Violin accompaniment to the entire gamut of stalwarts like Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Sri Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Sri G.N.Balasubramanianm, Sri Madurai Mani Iyer, Chembai Sri Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Sri Ramnad Krishnan, Sri T.K.Rangachari, Sathur Sri A.G.Subramaniam, Mayavaram Sri Rajam, Alathur Brothers, Flute T.R.Mahalingam, Sri Musiri Subramania Iyer, Sri Madurai Somasundaram, Sri Maharajapuram Santhanam, Palghat Sri K.V.Narayanaswamy and a galaxy of elite living exponents like Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Flute Sri N.Ramani, Dr.M.Balamurali Krishna and many other leading artistes. He has enthralled audiences all over India and at the cultural centres of United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia and Singapore. He has received appreciation of Violin Maestros like Mysore Sri T.Chowdiah, Sri Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, Sri Kumbakonam Raja Manickam Pillai, etc. He has also received appreciation from Nadaswara Chakravarti Sri T.N.Rajaratnam Pillai.

Dr. Lakshminarayana Subramaniam (Born on 23 July 1947)

Subramaniam was born to V Lakshminarayana, and Seethalakshmi, both accomplished musicians of Tamilian descent.

He lived in Jaffna during his younger years, taking up music studies before the age of five. He began training in violin under the tutelage of his father, Professor V. Lakshminarayana. “Mani”, as he is fondly known by fellow musicians and his family, gave his first public performance at the tender age of six.

His brothers are also acclaimed musicians, and include the well-known violinist-composers L. Shankar (alias. Shenkar), and L. Vaidyanathan. He has released recordings with both.

Subramaniam developed a passion for music as well as science from a young age, studying Medicine and acquiring his M.B.B.S. at Madras Medical College. He registered as a General Practitioner, before deciding to pursue music full-time. He has a Master’s degree in Western classical music, which he acquired at the California Institute of the Arts.

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