Indian Classical Music


Musician V. Doreswamy Iyengar

Doreswamy Iyengar was a shining star in the galaxy of famous vainikas of Mysore.

Born on August 11, 1920 at Gaddavalli village in Hassan district. Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar came from a family steeped in classical music. Music was in his blood and his father Venkatesha Iyengar was himself a vainika of eminence. Doreswamy Iyengar's guru was his own father who initiated him into the world of music. However it was Venkatagiriyappa under whose tutelage Doreswamy Iyengar blossomed as a young and talented vainika through a rigorous training in the typical gurukula system. Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar used to recall that his father taught him the rudiments - sarali alankaram in three kalams, gitas, and swarajatis. His guru Venkatagiriyappa taught him nearly 20 rare and time-honoured varnams, some kirtans and one or two pancharatna kritis. The ``Siddhi'' which Doreswamy Iyengar attained was due to the strict discipline imposed by Venkatagiriyappa who made his ``Sishya'' repeat any portion where he committed mistake 15 or 20 times till he became perfect. Venkatagiriyappa taught Doreswamy Iyengar the Chitta Tanam which had been specially composed by Veena Seshanna for vainikas to understand the method of playing tanam. He was hardly 12 when he was appointed Asthana vidwan by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV of Mysore, a great patron of music.

One of his earliest performances as a boy was at the Rama Mandir at Mysore (founded by Bidaram Krishnappa) in the presence of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and violin maestro T. Chowdaiah.

He was a well known vainika by the age of 16 or 17 and was giving concerts. However, he did not neglect his general education and graduated in Arts from the Maharaja's College in Mysore. The University of Mysore conferred its honorary doctorate on him in 1976.

The first of his major performances came in 1943 at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja. He played the veena at the Rasika Ranjani Sabha of Chennai in 1944. The next year he was to play at the Music Academy, Chennai, during the annual festival presided over by the redoubtable Vainika Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer.

Unassuming and affable, Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar was associated with All India Radio, Bangalore, where he had produced a memorable series on the post-Thyagaraja composers of Karnataka. This had won wide acclaim. He had been accompanied in his concerts by such well known instrumentalists as Palghat Mani Iyer (mridangam) and T. Chowdaiah, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M. S. Gopalakrishnan and T. N. Krishnan. Though he was not for playing jugalbandis, he had played the veena once or twice with Ali Akbar Khan and Amjad Ali Khan on the sarod.

Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1983, the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title of the Music Academy, Chennai in 1985, Sangeetakala Rathna of the Gayana Samaja, Bangalore (1976), Central Sangeetha Natak Academy Award in 1971 and the Karnataka Nritya Academy Award in 1971. He received the Academy of Music, Bangalore's Chowdaiah Memorial National Award in 1985 from the then President, Zail Singh. In 1994, the Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai, honoured him with its ``Sangeetha Kala Sikhamani'' title.

There was hardly any organisation connected with music and the arts which had not invited him to present his concerts. He was a guest artiste at the millennium celebrations of the Persian Empire in 1969, undertook concert tours of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and Britain playing the dual role of exponent and interpreter of Carnatic music. He played in the Festival of India held in Germany in 1990 and conducted a Pancha Veena concert at Leningrad in Russia. Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar was a former President of the Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy, during his career spanning more than six decades.

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