CHENNAI: Renowned violinist Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, whose majestic bowing widened the circle of rasikas for Carnatic music, passed away here on Monday after a brief illness. He was 73.
He is survived by wife V. Bagirathi, sons V.R. Shekar, V. Srinivasan, V. Sridhar, V. Balasubramanian and daughter Bhanumathi Ramakrishnan.
Born on March 2, 1935, he trained under his father Ramaswamy Sastry. As a youngster, he accompanied stalwarts, including Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Maharajapuram Santhanam and Chittoor Subramanya Pillai. He also performed with legendary nagaswara vidwans such as T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai and Thiruvenkadu Subramania Pillai.
He made a mark in classical music as well as film music, and made conscious attempts to make music more accessible to the common man.
His foray into the film industry began with A.P. Nagarajan giving him a break in ‘Vaa Raja Vaa.’ From then, he gave several magical numbers and super hits that are among the eternal melodies in Tamil films.
In the film ‘Deivam,’ he had all his playback singers including Madurai Somu appear on screen.
His composition ‘Marudamalai mamaniyae murugaiyya...’ in Darbari Kanada made waves in the industry like not many songs have. Several other films such as ‘Agathiyar’ and ‘Raja Raja Chozhan,’ for which he scored music, were also phenomenal hits.
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. He also made a significant contribution to Tamil devotional music.
An able administrator, Mr. Vaidyanathan served as Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nadaga Mandram and also conducted the Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Utsavam for several years.
Known for his 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 stopped accompanying vocal artistes in 1976 to concentrate more on solo concerts and was famous for his experiments on violin, which he referred to as fingering techniques.
Vaidyanathan, who had a long association with All India Radio, won several prestigious awards including the Padma Shri, Sangeeth Natak Academy award, Sangeetha Mamani and the Carnataka Isaignani award.
He also served as president of the Raga Research Centre.
Union Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation G.K. Vasan expressed his deep shock and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family.