Ganakalanidhi Dr. Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar



VAK Ranga Rao, the prince of Bobbli, is a critique and admirer of music. The following is his review of Sangeetha Vahini Volume 1 published in Sruti - Indian Premier Magazine of Music and Dance (Issue # 193 - October 2000)


Note Book

Reproduced from Sruti 193  (October  2000).

Reminiscences of a great man

Sangeeta Vahini (Volume I). By Ganakalanidhi Dr.Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar. [Published by  V. Vimala Devi and Sharada Vangipuram, 245 Kamalapuri Colony, Hyderabad 500 873. Pp.126. Rs.50].                              
I received this book from Vinjamuri's son V. Govindarajan (Delhi) a few months ago. I read it cover to cover during my recent train journey. I had heard of Varadaraja Iyengar's accomplishments from a couple of sources some years ago and read about him in Sruti. But, since I never heard him in person, I could form no opinion. A reading of this book is no auditioning, true, but it gives a privileged look into his beliefs and thinking.

This book consists of three parts. One is a short account in English of Vinjamuri's life. The next two comprise his writings in English and Telugu on music and musicians.

Vinjamuri's ideas on music are invariably old-fashioned. This does not mean that they are no longer relevant— most of them are; but it is a fact they are no longer thought important by the current generation of musicians and listeners.

When he explains what a pallavi is, what manodharma should be, what is included in rhythm, he is talking about all-time truths that cannot be gainsaid in the foreseeable future. He wasn't merely a singer and an instrumentalist, and a performer and a teacher, but a person who listened to the best of music and learnt from it. He was a man who could amalgamate tradition's strictures with current exigencies.

Vinjamuri's thumbnail sketches of historical personages— Purandaradasa, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar and some others— and of his contemporaries like Palakkad Rama Bhagavatar and Chittoor Subramania Pillai sparkle with sharp observations and pithy summing up.

Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar lived from 1915 to 1991, and not in vain. What he has left behind in these writings is both valid and valuable to the world of music. However, it is a pity that his admirers who brought out this volume, did not see the need for a professional editor who'd have cut a lot of dross from this gold mine.

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