Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Carnatic Musicians
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#1 Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Post by satyabalu » 20 Jun 2015, 18:26

"He was a classicist. He never indulged in acrobatics or sudden thrusts and flashes. Bred on the banks of the river Cauvery, his play imitated its majesty while it is brimful and in full flow. It was dignified, masterly, chaste and satisfying. Violin in his hands found harmony and established close identify with the musician and rarely sought to carve out any distinct identity. The success of the concert was his concern. He was pleasing in manners, unostentatious on the stage and magnificient in play. Had a good personality. He would play for juniors also. He had played for all top artistes. Rajamanickam Pillai was honoured at the Courts of Ramnad, Cochin, Ettayapuram, Travancore and Mysore. He was Asthana Vidwan at Travancore in 1940 and at Ettayapuram in 1942. He had been the recipient of Sangita Natak Academy Award in 1959, Isai Perarignar from the Tamil Isai Sangham and Sangita Kalanidhi from the Music Academy in 1948. Once he got an elephant as a gift and donated it to Sri Adi Kumbheswara Temple, Kumbakonam. His disciples included M.M.Dandapani Desikar and Govindaraja Pillai.
His files are here:
https://www.mediafire.com/folder/9ijdv7 ... kam_Pillai"
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#2 Re: Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Post by cacm » 20 Jun 2015, 22:42

He was & is ONE OF THE GIANTS OF CM. It is an INDICTMENT of our POOR HISTORICAL& ARTISTIC JUDGEMENT that very few persons probably even have a sense of his monumental contributions....VKV
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#3 Re: Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 24 Jun 2015, 04:23

I agree with VKV that Rajamanikkam Pillai has not received the recognition he deserved.

The younger forumites should know that he was a magnanimous accompanist--MMI in one of his speeches said in Tamil "AVAR VASIPPU NIZHAL POL PINNAYILE VARUM"(he will be "shadowing" the vocalist--never ahead of him with gimmicks and steal the thnder). Sometimes if the musician has rendered an exemplary raga alapana,he will simply concede his chance to the vocalist saying there is not much to add--this happened with a an SSI concert in Bombay as wellas in Thiruvaiyaru(Mahrajapuram Viswanantha Iyer).

I quote from my father's(KSM's Book) Musings on Music and Musicians (released in 2003) in the chapter on Rajamaniakkam Pillai(RMP):

"Unlike latter day violinists.(RMP) never adopted the Nagaswaram pattern of Rga delinetion. On the other hand it had the vocal stamp which suited the vocalists and made him popular amongst them.The sketches were never overdrawn. It seemed his motto was not to outdo the vocalist at any stage. This aspect of his artistry drew from Sri Musiri the epitaph "Rajamanikkam Pillai always helped the manodharma ways of vocalists".
For reasons which defy analysis,Sri Plai liked me(KSM) very well--once to demonstrate his goodwill he chose to visit my humble residence(Saraswathi NiwasK.A.Subramniam Road,matunga--MKR's comment--a "large" 500 sq.ft flat(with 2 verandahs!!!) on a morning bringing his violin with him. I(KSM) had been to the sabha for some work and when I returned at 9:30 A.M. Sri Pilai was palying a beautiful saranga. he went on to sketch Dhanyasi,begada,Bilahari ragas in succession till nearly 1 A.M. Only those who heard him sketch Mukhai rag and play the krithi "Saraseeruhanana) can appreciate his beutiful touches--all in the vocl tradition let me emphasize again.

He was a great diplomat too. Once at thiruvaiyaru,a function was arranged to felicitate Maharajapuram V and RMP for t their achievements. I remember SSI making a "politician's pitch in the course of which he urged the Chief Minister Sri. M.Bhakthavathsalam to take steps to eemploy the increasing number of carnatic Musicians in temples in order to ive them a steady livelihood. The late S.Balachander and others spoke too complimenting MV and RMP on their invaluble contributions to the growth of Crnatic Music.
By way of thanking the orgnisers MV spoke briefly--althouh his wit was proverbial, he was content to mumble a few words and sat down. After dwelling breifly on the great carnatic traditions of which the Thiruvaiyaru festival was a shining symbol he looked at his watch and said:"It has always been my principle never to try to outdo the principal artiste. Today the great artis MV noted for his Kalpana sangitha has spoken just 5 minutes. I have already taken three minutes for my reply and will stop here to continue my custom of subordinating myself to the main artiste. RMP was always tactful never overstepping the lines on his part.

TO BE CONTINUED--my own (MKR's personal anecdote with RMP!!)
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#4 Re: Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Post by pattamaa » 24 Jun 2015, 07:39

MKR - thanks, please write more...
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#5 Re: Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Post by arasi » 24 Jun 2015, 07:53

There you go, Ramesh! Hope you are on a roll and bring us more of your musical anecdotes and your father's fine observations.

Waiting for your next post :)

I remember the vidvAn, spread like a benevolent white tent on stage, commanding in his appearance. ARI looked like a little kitten, with him by his side :)

He played the violin sweetly, his kaDukkans (ear studs) sparkling,a big kumkum mark defining his handsome face. I must have heard him a lot of times because as you say, he was very popular among artistes and rasikAs.
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#6 Re: Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 24 Jun 2015, 08:05

Continuing the Quotes from my father's book:
RMP was punctilious in his correspondence.His replies to letters would be courteous and to the point. And in that large over-sized letterhead of his, he would at the end sign himself in big bold Tamil letterss as,"FIDDLE RAJAMANIKKAM PILLAI!!!

he was a fine speaker and could also sing very well with an attractive Saareeram.In fact when he was young he started learning the vocal art but was prevailed upon to take to violin by his Guru himself--strangely enough the reason given was that"the center spot of the stage was the monopoly of one community at that point of time and RMP might confront a bias against him if he turned a vocalist-- a strange reason indeed" ENd of Quote.(Note: have taken the liberty of truncating the Great violinist's name as RMP--my father had referred to him throughout the piece as Kumbakonam Rajamanikkam Pillai.

Now for my (MKR) anecdote; I was 11 years old and my father had arranged GNB-Rajamanikkam Pillai -Mani Iyer-Palani concert for the first time in Bombay with PMI/PSP Duo!!'(RMP was put up in a building opposite ours(in one of our friends' flat on the second floor--whose family had gone on vacation to Madras) and the Great man--lanky as he was with a lumbering gait would look like an elephant sans the trunk!!)--I think he was the tallest amongst all the CM musicians of his era.He would come down lumbering down all the way and cross the street and climb 2 flights to our flat for Lunch etc. Invariably he would bring a large Horlicks bottle full of Therattippal(--those forumites who do not know-- Therattipal is the equivalent of the Hindi dish Rabdi a milk product with lot of calories and sugar. he had a fairly advanced stage of Diabetes(he was about 53 at that time)--my father would plead with him "Pillaival ,why this indulgence given your condition to which RMP would nonchalantly reply in Tamil 'ADUKKU ENNANGA IRANDU(TWO) OOSI(INJECTION MEANING INSULIN!!!) POTTAL PORUME--in those days there was no provision for self-administering the injection--so my father took him to the Doctor and had the insulin administered!!
Once after a concert in Bombay he had booked a First Class but got an upper berth--my father tried to maneouvre a lower berth for him at the station trying to request the lower berth passenger(who unfortunately was not a CM enthusiast and hence could not care less for RMP to yield the lower berth to RMP. The guy relented, I believe-- RMP asked my father to step aside and boldly stood in front of the person--not threatening but gently telling him that he has the habit of rolling in his sleep and if he were to fall he might "crush" the little guy- looking at RMP's physical stature the guy decided discretion is the better part of valour and exchanged his berth with RMP.
Almost 6 decades later I still can visualise the tall man with an erect posture(no stoop!!) with a double chin and a fairly medium-sized "tuft".
Oh I forgot --the sabha gave him a silver violin(I think it was pure silver because prices were cheap--in 1949--on his 50th birthday--with TNK,LGJ hitting the scene in the fifties and dominating in the sixties,he had fewer opportunities. he died in 1970 @ 72--young by today's standards but old in his days given his complications.

There is a Tamil word 'THOZHIL DHARMAM"--INTEGRITY in the profession. Kumbakonam Rajamanikkam Pillai was a n epitome of that adage!!!
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#7 Re: Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai

Post by Pasupathy » 05 Aug 2017, 18:48

Musical Tidbits - 130
A review ( in Tamil ) about ' Madurai Mani + Rajamanikkam' concert ( 1943)
Today is Kumbakonam Rajamanikkam piLLai's Birth Day.

797. சங்கீத சங்கதிகள் - 130
மணி, மாணிக்கம்
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