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Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar


Chembai
 
Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, a patrician in the sphere of  Carnatic music abounding in gayaka lakshana was a deeply religious man. Music was in his family and he was taught and learnt as part of Vedic instruction.

Born on August 1896 in a family of musicians,  whose  traditions  ran  uninterruptedly  over  about  two centuries, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar had music in his blood. A great grandson of Chakratana Subba Aiyar,who was a contemporary of the musical trinity,and son of Chembai Anantha Bhagavatar  young Vaidyanathan had music readymade for him.He had his  early training under  his father and for himself equipped fully to give an independent performance even at the age of nine.

He has a tonal clarity and flawless articulation with undiluted rhythmic content. His repertoire was wide enough to include poems from the Tiruvachakam, Tiruppugazh, Divya Prabhandam, Ramalingaswami's Viruttam, compositions of Muthuthandavar and bhajans of Kabirdas, Tulasidas and Bhaktha  Meera,  besides the immortal  creations of the trinity  and others.  
 
As a performer his creative ability was astonishing. He could do a neraval and swara- prasthara  from  any  given point, which bespoke of mental alertness from the word ``go'' in a concert. His  abiding  sympathy  for  his  accompanists  was  noteworthy  and  he  would  go to any length to encourage them by giving them full scope to develop and display their talent.   
 
With his rich vibrant  voice and a  ringing tone,  Chembai's music had a direct appeal to his listeners. To Chembai, the main factors that contributed to the development of a musical personality were the intuition of the musician,  his  sound  knowledge  of  ragas  and  swaras  and  firm  control  of sruti and laya and the capacity to evolve an individual style of expression  suited  to  one's  voice  and  aptitude  and ``ideas distilled through the variegated experience behind him.'  
 
He lived a life of a savant larger than real life to two years short of four-score. He passed  away on October 16, 1974. Chembai was the recipient of numerous honours.    Swami  Sivananda  conferred  on  him  the title of Sangita Samrat.    Honours  were  also   bestowed on him by the rulers of Cochin,  Mysore,  Baroda, Vijayanagaram,Bobbili and Jaipur.
 
The Musicians          The Dancers            The Singers
 
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