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            Dr S Ramanathan Birth Centenary year, 2017

Dr S Ramanathan (8 April,1917 - 19 March,1988)
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Dr. S. Ramanathan

"What he doesn't know about music, is not worth knowing" - Bruno Nettl

David Nelson on Dr S.Ramanathan

When I first arrived in Madurai in June, 1970, I was taken to the Sri Sathguru Sangeetha Vidyalaya, the music college affiliated with Madurai University and introduced to the Principal, Sri S. Ramanathan. I told Sri Ramanathan of my interest in studying mrdangam, to which he genially replied, "Oh, yes, we have a great mrdangam teacher here in Madurai; I will take you to him. But mrdangam is an accompaniment instrument. You should also learn vocal music so that you know what you are accompanying." I thanked him and agreed that this was a good idea. He then said, "Fine. You can learn from me. You can come to my house."

The next day he took me to meet Sri Sankarasivam, and then to his own house, where we began singing lessons. His house was always full of students of all ages and levels of experience, and it seemed that he was always teaching. In Middletown two years later, he opened his home to me again. I stayed with him and his daughter Geetha while I worked on my Senior Thesis. Again, his home was always open to students, including some who became well known. One day there was a knock on the door. When I answered it, a man just a few years older than I was standing there. "Is Mr. Ramanathan at home?" he asked, an English accent confirming my suspicions as to his identity. I said that he was not, and the young man said, "Well, my group is performing here tonight. I brought some tickets for you all." So we all went to hear John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra.


The Hindu newspaper of 24June,2011 feature an article on Dr S.Ramanathan:  http://www.hindu.com/fr/2011/06/24/stories/2011062450540200.htm


Sangita Kalanidhi, Isai Perarignar   Dr. S. Ramanathan (1917-1988), Guru and father of Mrs Banumathy Raghuraman (of alapana),  was a musician and musicologist of high calibre.   Through oral tradition he was the recipient  of the masterpieces of the most famous 17th century composers, Sri Tyagaraja, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshithar and  Sri Syama Sastri. He was a disciple of Tiger Varadachariar, Sabesa Iyer, Ponniah Pillai, and Sathur Krishna Iyengar. Among his accomplishments are number of varnams and kritis, residencies at several American universities and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. He had trained a number of students who achieved recognition in the carnatic music field like  S. Sowmya, P.UnniKrishnan, Sukanya Raghunathan (veena),  Geetha Bennett (veena), Vidya Hariharan (veena and vocal), R.Banumathy (veena and vocal), Vanathy Raghuraman, Latha Radhakrishnan (violin and vocal), Padma Gadiyar (veena), Thyagarajan/Raju,  Vasumathi Nagarajan, Savithri Sathyamurthy,   Seetha Narayanan, Sucharithra and Lavanya to name a few. Acclaimed as a Vidwan of Vidwans by none other than Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, his dedication to reach the masses also was evident in the regular meetings he addressed at the Gandhi Peace Centre, called "Music for Layman". His translation of Subbarama Dikshitar’s Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradharshini as also numerous books on music & musicology serve as authentic reference material on Indian music for all times to come. His PhD thesis, Music in Silappathikaram' is a milestone reference material on the music of the tamils for researchers in music/tamil literature.

Almost all the coveted awards, titles and honours that a Carnatic musician of his times could dream of poured on him out of sheer merit.

His life's mission was to share knowledge with everyone without discrimination and he himself was a huge storehouse of knowledge.

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Dr S.Ramanathan, earned a PhD for his thesis on 'Music in Silappathikaram' at Weslayan University, USA. He is the second Indian to obtain a PhD in Indian Music on the merits of a thesis. (The first was Sri Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar at Mysore University)

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Dr S.Ramanathan receives an award from Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Day 10 December,1964

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Dr S.Ramanathan's Veena performance at the United Nations.


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