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Updated: February 10, 2011 18:13 IST

A legendary percussionist

P. Surya Rao
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Late Dandamudi Rajgopala Rao. Photo: Special Arrangement
Late Dandamudi Rajgopala Rao. Photo: Special Arrangement

Mridangam vidwan Dandamudi Ramamohan Rao was a stalwart in his field.

It was a dark day for music. Ace mridangam vidwan Dandamudi Ramamohan Rao, who accompanied three generations of musicians, passed away in Vijayawada on January 31, leaving a void in the field of mridangam.

Born on March 18, 1933, Ramamohan Rao took to mridangam at the age of six and learnt from luminaries like K. Ranganayakulu, Potluri Veeraraghaviah Chowdary, Tirupati Ramanujasuri, Eedara Nagaraju and legendary vidwan Sangeeta Kalanidhi Palani Subramanyam Pillai.

A leading vidwan of the Pudukkotai mridangam tradition, Dandamudi, as he is popularly known, played his first concert in 1939. In his mridangam career spanning more than five decades, Dandamudi accompanied many accomplished vidwans. Innumerable awards and titles were bestowed on him.

Dandamudi served as a staff artiste of Akashvani, Vijayawada for five decades and retired in 1993. As a teacher of mridangam, Ramamohan Rao produced hundreds of sishyas and prasishyas and some of his prime disciples were his wife Sumathi, M. Lakshminarayana Raju, Pulletikurthi Rama Rao, M. Subbaraju, Alugolu Satyanarayana and Manda Krishnamohan. Dandamudi visited several foreign countries along with Mokkapati Nageswara Rao and M. Balamuralikrishna. In most countries he visited, he gave highly admired lecture demonstrations in mridangam.

Yet to be published is his book containing 1000 Muktayis composed by him in several talas. Any visitor to Dandamudi's house in Vijayawada will find a huge rack full of nearly 40 mridangams in different srutis. He was always surrounded by four or five mridangams being repaired or set to perfect tune. Such was his love for the instrument he played. The full use of the left side was his speciality he imbibed from his late guru Palani. In many concerts he accompanied, people used to attend just to enjoy Dandamudi's intricate vinyasas in his `tani'.

In a condolence meeting held on the premises of G.V.R. Government College of Music and Dance, Vijayawada, a large number of vidwans, sishyas, prasishyas and admirers paid glorious tributes to the great departed maestro of mridangam. The meeting was presided over by Mangalagiri Aditya Prasad, Station Director of Vijayawada Akashvani.

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