My SCRAPBOOK (సేకరణలు): A COLLECTION of articles in English and Telugu(తెలుగు), from various sources, on varied subjects. I do not claim credit for any of the contents of these postings as my own.A student's declaration made at the end of his answer paper, holds good to the articles here too:"I hereby declare that the answers written above are true to the best of my friend's knowledge and I claim no responsibility whatsoever of the correctness of the answers."

Friday, November 23, 2007

The great Enchanter



Remembrance Dwaram was the first violinist and also the first Andhra musician to be asked to preside over the Music Academy’s conference

Brilliant soloist: A statue of Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu silhouetted against the sky on Beach Road in Visakhapatnam

The state of Andhra Pradesh appointed eminent violinist Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu as its first Asthana Sangeetha Vidwan in September 1964. Dwaram went from Madras to Hyderabad to attend a grand reception in his honour on November 20, and a couple of days later suffered a massive heart attack. The end came on November 25 in Hyderabad. The Hindu of November 26, 1964, carried a tribute which stated that “this brilliant soloist was known for his deft handling of even intricate ragas and for his gentle and feathery bowing but firm fingering. Although he strictly adhered to traditional Carnatic style in his rendering he was responsive to fresh ideas. Music flowed in his veins and as a noted musicologist once remarked, ‘he woke up the dumb instrument and produced a feast of melody’”. The musicologist in question, though the paper did not mention it, was ‘Kirtanacharya’ C.R.Srinivasa Iyengar, who in the 1930s, quelled a nasty scurrilous campaign against Dwaram. It came about like this.

Dwaram was quite content living in Vizianagaram where he was the first Professor of Music in the Maharajah’s College, which incidentally was the first college in India to be set up to promote music. Dwaram wanted to enrol as a student in 1919, but such was his performance at the entrance test that he was asked by the Principal and well-known Harikatha exponent Adibhatla Narayana Das to join as Professor. Dwaram’s talents could however not remain unknown to the larger music loving public and he impressed the ruling monarch of the violin, Malaikottai Govindasami Pillai sufficiently to enable the latter to suggest him as a replacement for a performance at the Saraswathi Gana Sabha in Kakinada. From here, Dwaram’s fame spread.

The veteran being honoured by the then Governor

In 1927, he performed for the first time in Madras city during the All India Congress Session which also hosted the Music Conference. He was soon greatly in demand. But this caused jealousy among a few violinists and one of them soon began spreading a hate campaign against Dwaram. The sensitive violinist that he was, Dwaram was quite hurt. It was left to C.R.Srinivasa Iyengar to organise a concert of Dwaram’s in Madras at the end of which he made a speech praising the latter’s prowess. He then followed it up with an article in The Swarajya where he made the comments quoted by The Hindu. This silenced Dwaram’s detractors. In his speech, Iyengar commented that a musician of Dwaram’s calibre ought to be a soloist and not an accompanist. Dwaram thought this over and soon began performing solo. Later, he was to humorously say that as an accompanist if he played well the main artiste was unhappy and if he played badly the audience was unhappy and that is why he had taken to solo performances!

Menuhin impressed

The Hindu
wrote that “Sri Venkataswami Naidu, who completed 71 years this month, won praise from Yehudi Menuhin.” This came about thanks to P.V. Rajamannar, the first Indian to become Chief Justice of Madras High Court after independence. Dwaram, being extremely near sighted, wanted to touch Menuhin’s violin, but the internationally acclaimed violinist would not allow it. Dwaram, though upset, kept silent. Rajamannar who was an eye-witness, organised a performance of Dwaram’s the next day to which Menuhin was invited. The concert so floored Menuhin that he spontaneously came forward and apologised and not only allowed Dwaram to touch his violin but also play on it! Rajamannar in his tribute in The Hindu said, “he might not be orthodox or conventional but any music lover or Sahridaya who heard him was transported to a world of enchantment and derived an aesthetic enjoyment of the highest order.”

The obituary listed the awards that came to Dwaram. These included the Sangita Ratnakara of the Mysore Darbar in 1946, the Kalaprapurna of the Andhra University in 1950, the President’s Award in 1953 and the Padma Sri in 1957. It also recalled that two years earlier, “the citizens of Delhi honoured him with a purse of Rs. 10,000.” This was to be followed by a concert at the Constitution Club, but with the Chinese aggression in progress it appeared that the event would be cancelled. But the President of India, Dr.S.Radhakrishnan would have none of it and the concert was held and he attended it in person.

Family members of the violinist beneath his statue.

The Hindu
did not mention one fact. Dwaram was the first violinist and also the first Andhra musician to be asked to preside over the Music Academy’s conference. That was in 1941 when the Tamil Isai movement was at its peak. But even the staunchest Tamil Isai lobbyist could not fault the Academy’s choice of this Telugu speaking musician. He perhaps needed no greater testimony.

(The author can be contacted at

The Hindu, 23:11:2007.



Post a Comment

<< Home