Friday Review » Music

Updated: June 12, 2014 15:21 IST

Birth centenary celebrations of R.R. Keshavamurthy

Ranjani Govind
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R.R. Keshavamurthy
R.R. Keshavamurthy

His students to organise two-day ‘Gurusmruti’ on June 14

"Why don’t you make time for accompanying me in all my concerts?" M.S. Subbulakshmi is said to have offered violinist R.R. Keshavamurthy in the 1960s, owing to his sensitive bowing and multi-faceted musical personality. Versatile and a creative genius that RRK was, his role broadened out to not just understanding the theory and being a musicologist but author nearly 15 books that would serve as an encyclopaedia for classical enthusiasts for a lifetime. Krishnamurthy could reach out to his umpteen students even the art of making a violin just as the extra-stringed instrument he used demanded a perceptive understanding that only the seven-string pioneer T.Chowdiah had accomplished. Both Chowdiah and RRK were students of Bidaram Krishnappa, the man who brought in a signature Mysore styling to the world of violin.

Recalls N. Venkatesh, a 20-year-gurukula student of RRK and taking forward the seven-stringed play for posterity, "My guru was a sadaka, bhodaka and prakashika, his discerning ear, from playing a simple varna to revealing the aesthetics embedded in a nade-pallavi or his evocative raga elaborations as in Atana, Mukhari, Bhairavi, Husseini or Shankarabharana was unsurpassed. It is something only a sensitive tunesmith could attempt. The opening phrases of a raga alapane should identify the raga, he believed."

In those days, it was T.Chowdiah followed by RRK who were constantly in demand by the visiting yesteryear doyens as Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Ariyakudi, Tiger Varadachari, GNB, Musiri etc, says Venkatesh. "My guru believed in practicing music and yoga for a few hours everyday. Once when somebody had wryly commented if his music was directly dependent on yoga, RRK had said, "A strong mental and physical disposition leads to creative melodic astuteness."

Venkatesh and a band of RRK students, spear-heading a Gurusmruti for the Birth Centenary Celebrations of RRK this June 14 and 15 at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja, will honour the mridanga vidwan, T.A.S. Mani with ‘Saadanacharya Award’ in memory of the Mysore violinist, apart from a string of other musical programmes marked for the special RRK year.

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