Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Remembering musicians of the recent past
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rajeshnat
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#1 Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rajeshnat » 24 May 2014, 13:38

Those who are in chennai and who hop lot of sabhas would know a lot about Sri venkateswaran. Shocking to hear that he is no more . I, sureshvv(especially) , kulkarni and many more know him personally. I must have seen him in atleast a 100 concerts in the last 12 years and many where I have dropped him at a common point post concerts . Many discussions with him on who is a better artist - few agreeable and few equally disagreeable was always there.

Venkateswaran passed away last april 2014 and in yesterday Friday Review there was this writeup.I knew only yesterday about his demise. He was a really nice rasika ,liked most of his convictions.He has played a part in my rasikatvam. Condolences to his family - i donot know any of them excepting him.
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp ... 037959.ece
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Nick H
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#2 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by Nick H » 24 May 2014, 13:47

This is very sad to know. In fact, I had been wondering why I had not seen him recently.
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cmlover
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#3 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by cmlover » 24 May 2014, 20:30

Condolences..
Was he a member of this Forum?
If so what was his handle?
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varsha
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#4 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by varsha » 26 May 2014, 09:45

He has played a part in my rasikatvam.
He started mine , as a matter of fact
I put here two tracks of the two current vocalists , he used to rever

http://www.mediafire.com/listen/n5d20jn ... Sowmya.mp3
http://www.mediafire.com/listen/4bnr26b ... a_Rama.mp3

These last few years he was the core of a raucous group among listeners , but he was not always so .
Belonging to a generation that had to work with the zeal of a coal miner , to settle the parents comfortably , not deny the brothers and sisters a single penny worth of support that they looked him up , and planning for the family after him ... He was spotless . And took refuge in music , and largely in Tyagaraja .
After a couple of decades of low paying jobs , when his first break came with ITC ( and all the perks associated with it ) he would sing a passage from a Tyagaraja krithi - likening himself to the orphaned girl - brought up well by the uncles and now in expectation of the meeting with a promising groom . The hungry excitement of a wonderful future did not have any link to the the very ordinary past , offered by well meaning relatives .So there were to be no regrets of the past and yet the future had such a fascination .
I dont remember which krithi it was , but it has remained a good metaphor for me , in my own life

His English was impeccable ( a Gold medallist at college . very few knew about this ) and was always proud to say :
If Somu remained proud of the beatings he took from his Guru as part of learning to sing , I am proud of the beatings I took from my own Dad in pursuing this habit of listening to concerts .
He would regale me with anecdotes / images around the temples in his home town , the petromax lights , mass of humanity , the Sight of a Karaikurchi playing ( he was sure that the God did descend to earth when he played ) , the pathos in the voice of MM Iyer in his later years , the charisma of a GNB .
Losing him , I have lost a bit of myself . My treks to the concert venues will never be the same again .
But that I reckon is Life .
Sincerely hope that those two uploads are not objectionable infringements.
I have learnt to rever these two vocalists who have been steadfast in clinging to certain virtues , in what is turning out to be a " Well only the future can Tell " kind of a time .
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rajeshnat
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#5 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rajeshnat » 26 May 2014, 13:41

varsha wrote: These last few years he was the core of a raucous group among listeners , but he was not always so . .....

He would regale me with anecdotes / images around the temples in his home town , the petromax lights , mass of humanity , the Sight of a Karaikurchi playing ( he was sure that the God did descend to earth when he played ) , the pathos in the voice of MM Iyer in his later years , the charisma of a GNB .
Varsha,
He was certainly getting more raucous yes , may I know his home town ?
For me he was a 1/2 generation behind but had a taste at times 1 and 1/2 generations behind - that means a long list of comparisons . I saw him as one semi ruthless rasika when he sees one false step some where by any vidwan/vidushi that goes out of his way in either tv or billboard or other external activity , that's it that vidwan/vidushi is out of his radar .

CML
To the best of my knowledge he does not have a forum id.
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varsha
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#6 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by varsha » 26 May 2014, 13:58

Tirunelveli
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rshankar
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#7 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rshankar » 27 May 2014, 07:19

Varsha - the tracks in post #4 are not available for download. Have they been inactivated?
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Nick H
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#8 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by Nick H » 27 May 2014, 13:06

The saddest thing for me is that I never knew his name and, having spoken to him several times, was embarrassed to ask --- but had been intending to ask Sureshvv.

Now I do know his name, and it is too late.

How nice of The Hindu to publish the tribute.
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varsha
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#9 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by varsha » 27 May 2014, 13:10

I am able to download.
Maybe it is one of your Mac ish pranks .Let me know if you still have problems.
these are must - listen - to tracks
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rahm221
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#10 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rahm221 » 29 May 2014, 04:04

Hi Varsha,I can't download the Pantula Rama piece. It says 'Permission denied' The Huseni RTP is OK. Agree it is absolutely wonderful.
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varsha
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#11 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by varsha » 29 May 2014, 08:45

permission denied . yes
my account says copyright infringed .so i have deleted.
PL TRY THIS
http://www.mediafire.com/listen/yrv9nc9 ... NTULA_.mp3
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rahm221
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#12 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rahm221 » 30 May 2014, 16:54

Thanks Varsha.
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sureshvv
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#13 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by sureshvv » 14 Jun 2014, 13:32

From Sruti magazine wrote:
“You people never encourage young talent,” the
overweight, gruff voiced old man bellowed at me. “You
are only interested in promoting the same old musicians,
and disapprove of anything fresh.” , , ,

I did try to convince him that Sruti was not against
youth or new ideas, but he was not entirely impressed.
At his invitation, I went to a Charsur concert a couple
of days later at the Narada Gana Sabha mini-hall. The
young vocalist was someone my recent critic highly
recommended.

Unfortunately I found the youngster to be a ha1f-baked
purveyor of new-fangled vocalism of a rather syrupy kind,
and told the veteran rasika in so many words much later,
having walked out of the concert after about half an hour.

Venkateswaran, a retired chemical engineer and materials
management expert who served ITC Ltd., for decades,
usually led a three— or four-man group that frequented
sabha halls until his death a few days ago, a massive heart
attack felling him without any warning.

He was a regular at Chennai concerts for many years, and
had a mind of his own. Generous in his praise of music
he enjoyed, he never hesitated to condemn anything he
considered slipshod or unprofessional. He invariably
came on time and stayed till the end of the concert.

You did not agree with all he said, or even all he was
party to - as, for instance, the Whispered discussion of
the identity of songs accompanied by hurried references
to his notes by other members of the gang and curious
fellow listeners — but you could not help admiring his total
devotion to music.

Through the years, Venkateswaran rarely missed a
concert, and unlike . the average rasika, did not confine
himself to free kutcheris, often having to embark on a
major expedition from his home via share auto, bus and
long walks to listen to music.

A junior member of his group was a final year student
of Anna University whom he took under his wing a few
years ago, and steadily ‘tutored in the appreciation of
both Carnatic and Hindustani music, apart from exposing
him to a wide range of reading.

A nattily dressed, middle aged man was another regular
concert goer with whom Venkateswaran made pre-
concert plans to meet at this sabha or that. The group
ofien stayed‘ on afterwards to discuss the finer points of
the performance, sometimes walking up to the vidwans
of the evening to offer a Word of appreciation.

Venkateswaran was also a constant presence at lecture
demonstrations where his queries tended to be thoughtful
and based on depth of understanding.

The news of Venkateswaran’s death came to me through
an sms from a common friend —— another staunch rasika. At
a concert a couple of weeks earlier, he had crossed over to
my seat from his to say, “Madhuvanti” in a stage whisper __
-— after the raga in play had been announced as Seshadri,
said to have been created by the artist on the stage.

Like him, Venkateswaran too had become quite an expert A
through keli gnanam

At the end of a month of sad bereavements in the music
and dance world, I chose to mourn here the passing
of a rasika who liked to encourage young musicians
and nurtured a love of music among his young friends
- because in doing so such men nourish our arts in their
own quiet Way.

. V. RAMNARAYAN
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rajeshnat
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#14 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rajeshnat » 15 Jun 2014, 08:45

sureshvv wrote:quote="From Sruti magazine"
At a concert a couple of weeks earlier, he had crossed over to my seat from his to say, “Madhuvanti” in a stage whisper __-— after the raga in play had been announced as Seshadri,said to have been created by the artist on the stage.
For those of you who did not understand,
Very recently Vidushi A kanyakumari created 7 new ragas on the names of 7 hills of Tirumala , one of them is seshadri. Late venkateswaran gave an opinion that seshadri is only maduvanti - old wine in a new bottle .

SureshVV
I want u to write bit more as you know him a lot .
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sureshvv
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#15 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by sureshvv » 15 Jun 2014, 12:13

Rajeshnat:

I too would really like to say something... but am stymied by where I should start or how much I should say.

I met Venkateswaran (or should I say he met me) years ago at a Vijay Siva concert held at a small temple in Saidapet. I was the only face in the small audience that he recognized and he immediately rushed over to me like an express train arriving on its final destination. I had seen him before at several venues, a solitary figure armed with a magna carta sized (as described by another rasika) diary and a bag holding a full assortment of books and handouts, chief among them a tattered copy of Parthasarathy's Thyagaraja compositions book (which he had memorized fully including the footnotes and tamil commentary). He could be pretty loud in his appreciation/criticism of the artistes or the truant audience members and hence was avoided by the other rasikas, especially inside the concert hall. Right away, he commended me for the choice of concert and announced how he was going to restrict himself only to a handful of artistes from then, a resolution he made often but had a hard time sticking to. One of the songs featured that day was "Teliyaleru rama" and he demonstrated Thayagaraja's contempt for the clean vibhuthi clad hypocrites. At a time, when I was wondering what drew people to listen to this form of music day in and day out with scant regard for the lyrics, his lucid explanation with the proper prose order and tamilized pronunciation demonstrated how Thyagaraja's telugu had much more in common with Thanjavur tamizh than Telengana telugu. He had a wicked sense of humor and vast repertoire of quotes and anecdotes, from Somerset Maughm to Anonymous.

Over the years Venkateswaran overwhelmed me with his generosity. He would lend tickets borrowed from various other friends, arrange for rides for other friends who travelled from distant places, hand out snacks that I had bought to various deserving people in the auditorum. After the concert, we would find the tea shop closest and discuss the concert at length and marvel at how carefully the artiste had organized the ideas in the presentation. He loved senior artistes from out-of-town, and one of his last misgivings was missing R.K.Srikantan (who was slated to perform at Raga Sudha, days after he passed on). He showed me the depth in the music of Neela Ramgopal, Seetha Narayanan, Suguna Varadachari - artistes I may not have paid attention to but for his constant encouragement. Many of these artistes would reserve songs that they had prepared until they saw him in the audience. His radar was equally strong for new talent. He was onto these artistes much before the general public was aware of them and with missionary zeal would commend them to everyone he met, influential or otherwise. His opinion about artistes was much in demand and he had complimentary season tickets from leading sabhas in exchange for serving as their talent scout. He had a role in popularizing many fine contemporary artistes when they first performed in Chennai, like Pantula Rama, Ranjani Hebbar, Manda Sudharani, Prasanna Venkatraman and Brinda Manickavasagam. On December mornings, he was in Alwarpet even before many of us got out of bed directing us to join him immediately so as not to miss a substantial lec-dem at the Academy.

He adored M.D.Ramanathan's delivery of the music including his grip over the lyrics and his ability to split the words differently to enhance the presentation. Like in the keeravani kriti neraval line which is usually sung as:
baguga sri raghu
ramuni pada mula
on one occassion, he would change it to
baguga sri
raghuramuni pada mula
or in the popular mangalam where it is usually sung as
pavamana suthudu pattu
padaravindamulaku
and he would sing it the second time as:
pavamana suthudu
pattupadaravindamulaku
He had an eclectic taste. He would quote lines from a T.S.Balakrishna Sastry discourse he heard ages ago with great felicity. Balakrishna Sastrigal narrating Rama's woes - "ellam appa vaala vandadhu". He would recollect Pithukuli Murugadas rendering of the OVK kriti "paal vadiyum mugam" with the wonderful confluence of rhythm and imagery. He would marvel at Sirgazhi Sivachidambaram's ability to sing long passages in mandhra sthayee.

Needless to say, he had run-ins with various artistes. He was dressed down publicly on various occasions for excessively complaining about loud microphones. Although somewhat miffed initially, his love for the music exceeded holding grudges and he was back making requests and loudly applauding their efforts to deliver classicism in music.

Venkateswaran has a nickname for everyone, on stage or in the audience. The auditorium becames a virtual panoply of assorted characters - Frank Moraes, General Montgommery, Nira Radia, Baby Gayathri, Chitragupthan - each more apt than the other.

On several occasions, commenting upon the antics effected by the deteriorating mental/physical state of various long term rasikas in the audience, he would tell me only half jokingly, "Vaadhyaare.. ivangala ellam paatha bayama irukku". And set me off trying to stifle my uncontrollable laughter. As God would have it, he had nothing to fear.
Last edited by sureshvv on 15 Jun 2014, 14:54, edited 2 times in total.
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rajeshnat
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#16 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rajeshnat » 15 Jun 2014, 12:54

sureshvv
good one .Let me state me few more things:

The first time I met him was I think in SKGS . I cannot remember the artist , but that was the time I did not have a feel of many raga names so i took a little more help in identifying ragas especially the cluster of janyas centered on hariKambodhi which comes as fast fillers . Long time back 9 years back when a song in lalita was on , I asked him and another rasika (his friend) whether the raga was lalita or vasantha , his one friend said ithu kuda theriyada ithu lalita , many years later I realized the raga was lalitapanchamam as such all three fit in as ithu kooda theriyAdA bill. ;) .

I did notice some time in 2005 or 2006 I felt I should avoid him and many of the long timers for the sheer reason of constant chatting and giving even a live commentarty how that artist is botching up big time a sangathi when actually you are thinking that he/she is singing well.(an impedance mismatch)

There was a pattern in him liking artists who generally are not taking a populist route which is fine to me for many artists but he applying that rule for all artists was not resonating with me.Things like saree/makeup/silk jibba bothered his definition of entry which i did not care . He kept on egging me to listen to harikatha of aravumudhachariar and generally asking me to avoid few chennai based artists and go in general for andhra based artists . My usual pattern of listening to artists is to go in the order of start time of concert , convenience from work etc and not artists per se . His pureplay CM concert definitions started getting more diversified than me as years rolled by.

What is remarkable to me is his grasp in indentifying ragas in ragamaligas , I remember when TNS sang a set of ragamaligas I got 7 or 8 out of 12 , he got 11 and when I droppped he kept thinking and even got the 12th one . As such there was a lot of love for sadguru was a huge plus , lot of times when I dropped him he used to read those parthasarathy book the lines of Sadguru Thyagaraja , I used to appreciate that and also used to feel is he listening to concert or did he come to read the book of thyagaraja away from the Television intrusion at his home.

By the way on your behalf I am relaying his age was 72 when he passed away . You told me that in ragasudha, His age was 72, an apt age for him as all melakartha and janyas were at his fingertips.
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Nick H
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#17 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by Nick H » 04 Aug 2014, 13:43

On Saturday (2 August 2014) evening, a tribute event/concert was held at Arkay Convention centre. A beautiful concert was given by Sriram Parasuram, blending Carnatic with Hindustani, Violin with Vocal.

There was about half an hour in which a number of people spoke of Sri Venkateswaran. Sriram also spoke of him, and the unique-to-carnatic-music role played by such elder, learned rasikas.

It was a most moving evening; a celebration of the life, rather than a mourning of its loss. A warm gathering of appreciative friends. It was also a great concert.

I wish that someone would report the details...
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cienu
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#18 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by cienu » 09 Aug 2014, 10:34

Wonderful to read about Rasika Venkateswaran from so many of you. May his soul rest in peace listening to the great music of Sadguru Thyagaraja Swami.
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rajeshnat
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#19 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rajeshnat » 09 Aug 2014, 13:35

Nick H wrote: There was about half an hour in which a number of people spoke of Sri Venkateswaran. Sriram also spoke of him, and the unique-to-carnatic-music role played by such elder, learned rasikas.

It was a most moving evening; a celebration of the life, rather than a mourning of its loss. A warm gathering of appreciative friends. It was also a great concert.

I wish that someone would report the details...
There was a passing mention some time back from varsha about sriram parasuram concert , I am guessing that concert was the same occassion.Sureshvv or varsha(if you were there) - any details on what was spoken about sri venkateswaran
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#20 Re: Venkateswaran - a discerning rasika is no more

Post by rajeshnat » 24 Apr 2018, 08:34

All
On 24th April 2018, I just saw in The Hindu engagement , that there is a tribute done for this great rasika Late Venkateswaran. The event has a brief tribute speeches and S Sivakumar is organizing it . It is in ragasudha hall followed by Thoppur Sairam-MRG-Ganapathyraman concert . Please do attend and if possible do report not in this thread but a seperate thread in kutcheri reviews. Pranams to this great rasika - Venkateswaran.
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