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Mysore T. Puttaswamaiah, a master musician

Mysore T. Puttaswamaiah was one of the foremost vocalists of Karnatic music in the early part of 20th century. A torch-bearer of the great Thyagaraja Paramapara, he was a wonderful musician perfecting all sections of Karnatic music. His elder brother was the
illustrious violin maestro Mysore T.Chowdiah.

Puttaswamaiah was born at Tirumakoodalu (T.Narasipur), the well-known pilgrim town on the banks of the confluence of the river Cauvery and Kapila, in Mysore district in Karnataka to Agastya Gowda and Sundaramma. September 18 of this year marks the centenary of this great musician as he was born on September 18, 1907.

Mother Sundaramma was a musician, and no doubt the son had a good initiation into classical music right from his childhood. The basic training came from his uncle. Later, Puttaswamaiah had the fortune of learning under Bidaram Krishnappa, one of the great vocalists in the history of Karnatak classical music. who was the chief musician in the court of the Mysore Palace.

Under the supervision of the great Guru, Puttaswamaiah underwent rigorous training, practicing for fourteen to sixteen hours a day. Rigorous training in the traditional Gurukula system of learning under this great master, who also gave two other brilliant musicians, Mysore T.Chowdaiah and B.Devendrappa, lead him master all the intricacies of Karnatic music.

Puttaswamaiah gave his first concert in 1930, sweeping all the music lovers and critics off their feet by his extraordinary musical acumen and technical virtuosity. He never looked back from then on. He performed in almost all the major music centers of India and was admired as one of the most knowledgeable Vidwan with astounding musicianship.

Consolidating the enormous achievements of his predecessors, and different and new approaches of contemporary violinists, Puttaswamaiah designed a new vocal style, which marked the prominence to melodic expressions, intellectual sophistication, providing great scope for improvisation with strict adherence to the classicism. He was very popular for his rendition of intricate Ragam-Thanam-Pallvais. He was a real master in this difficult aspect of classical music. His mastery inspired him to compose innumerable Pallavis, which are admired even today by all of music lovers and musicians.

He was an ‘A’ grade artist of all India radio. Many top ranking artistes used to accompany Puttaswamaiah in his concerts including his brother Mysore T.Chowdiah. He gave performances in every major Sangeeth Sabha and other cultural organizations all over the country. He also excelled as a great teacher belonging to the Bidaram School of Music in the lineage of Sri Thyagaraja Parampara.

He trained quite a few students. His disciples include many outstanding musicians such as Sangeetha Vidyanidhi S.Mahadevappa, Dr.K.Varadarangan, Sangitha Vidyanidhi Dr.Padma Murthy, Jahnavi Jayaprakash, Usha Char, B.M.Munivenkatappa, Venkata- rama Sastry and others.

Recognizing his remarkable achievement, the Maharaja of Mysore made Puttaswamiah an Asthana Vidwan or court musician of Mysore palace. Puttaswamaiah was also selected to preside over the national level music conference conducted by the Karnataka Ganakala Parishath and was conferred the tittle, ‘Ganakala Bhushana’. He was honoured by a number of music organizations and was honoured with many titles. The Karnataka State Sangeetha Nritya Academy also honoured him with its topmost award for excellence in music. He also served as the Head of the Department of Vocal Music in the Bangalore University Music College.

Plans are afoot to celebrate his birth centenary by his Sishyas and admirers.

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