Acclaimed Carnatic vocalist Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana, a recipient of Padma Bhushan, passed away at his residence at Secunderabad on Thursday morning, at the age of 90 years.
Mahamahopadhyaya, as the master was known, died peacefully as he was not suffering from any major ailment barring diabetes. He leaves behind his wife, four sons and three daughters, besides a large multitude of musicians and art lovers, many of whom thronged his house as news of his demise spread. His body will be cremated after three of his children, now abroad, arrive in the city.
Born in 1923 at Anakapalle in Andhra Pradesh, Nookala was spotted as a young talent with theatrical tastes. It was Kambhampati Akkaji Rao who initiated him into music. He then took him to Balamuralikrishna’s father, Mangalampalli Pattabhiramayya. After some grounding there, he went to Vizianagaram and learned to play the violin from renowned musician Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, who also taught him to sharpen his skills on the violin strings.
But the influence of Pinakapani made him take up Carnatic vocal. Nookala’s personality changed as a musician under Pinakapani’s tutelage. Over the years, Nookala became an icon in the field of Carnatic vocal. His analytical approach to music was stupendous and he passed on the same to his students, making their knowledge of musical science complete.
Ahead of times
A prodigy who was acknowledged as being ahead of his times, Nookala served Government music colleges as Professor and Principal in Maharaja College of Music, Vizianagaram, and as Principal, Sri Venkateswara College of Music, Tirupati, post-retirement. The master often flew abroad to teach his students. He used his time away from Indian shores in studying Western music and comparing it with Indian music. He would often give comparative pictures of both systems of music.
Interestingly, Nookala leveraged IT to spread his teachings and used ‘Skype’ to interact with his students abroad. He recorded plenty of Annamacharya kirtanas for the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, for which he had a recording studio at home. He published plenty of books on music.
Some of Nookala’s titles and awards include ‘Asthana Vidwan’ for the TTD, Kanchi Kamakoti, Sringeri Sankara, Pushapagiri Peetham and the Ganapati Sachidananda Ashram. He has performed before Presidents -- Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and V.V. Giri -- apart from Prime Ministers Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and P.V. Narasimha Rao, and while abroad, before the Mayors of London and Chicago.
This top class artiste of the All India Radio was awarded the title of ‘Sangeetha Kala Acharya’ by the Madras Music Academy after his demonstration of ‘Pancharatna Kirtanas’ of Thyagaraja. He leaves behind myriad disciples and music lovers.