The Musical Heritage of the Guru Ramnathapuram Sri. M. N Kandaswami: Mridangam & Kanjira Vidwan
(M N Kandaswami’s Mothers Father) – Vidwan A Rathinam Pillai – (B. 1850- D. 1941) (Nadasvaram-Vocal, Violin Mridangam Harmonium)
(Contemporary of Poochi Srinivasa, Patnam Subramaniam, Guru Manpundia Pillai, Vidwan Padikasu Pulavar)
(Was Awarded a Gold Nadasvaram in 1918, by King Bhaskara Sethupathi of Ramnad)
(He taught vocal, Flute, Violin, Harmonium, Mridangam etc.)
Sri M N Kandaswami’s own father) – Vidwan Rajarathnam Pillai , son of Muthu Pillai He was a Vocalist and mathematician Taught music and lived long time in Ceylon, has disciples there close associate and guide of Guru Manpundia Pillai.)
Vidwan M N Kandaswami’s family
Eldest Brother Late Sri. M.N.Natesan Pillai.
(Born 1906-Died 1966)
He learnt music at a very young age from A. Rathinam Pillai .He played flute and sang. He was artiste on A.I.R Trichy. He also made 2 Columbia “78” Records. In 1921 he played in Ceylon with Rangayaki Ammal on Mridangam. He taught vocal & flute in Ceylon.
He had many students but not famous, he was very popular in Trichy where he lived until his passing away.
Younger Brother- Sri.M.N.Ganesan Pillai.
He learnt vocal at an early age from his grandfather, he later learnt violin from Sri. T.K. Jayaram Ayyar .he was always in accompaniment with Alathur Brothers, M.K. Thyagaraja and M.K Govindaraja, Madurai Somosundram . He accompanied almost all leading Vidwans of his time. He also played Kanjira. Lived in then Ney veli are until he passed away.
Sri.M.N. Kandaswami Pillai
(Born 29-12.26 – 1995)
Started learning music at the age of 5 from grandfather, he learnt Mridangam from Asthana Vidwan Sri. Ramnad CS Shankarasiva Bagawathar. C.S for 2 years, then from 1941 he learnt under Guru Palani. Subramaniam Pillai until the master’s death in 1962 Born in Ramnathapuram lived there for years, then moved to Trichy where he lived for many years .He settled in Madras in 1962 after his guru’s death. He stayed in the guru’s house. He joined A.I.R in 1963 and was a Senior Mridangist on A.I.R he married Smt.Rajam Pillai in Trichi. Both his boy &girl babies died at 3&4 months old.
He had his Arangetram at Akilandesvari Koil in 1946 In which he accompanied Kalyanakrishna Bagawathar of Veena fame, in his arangetram he had T.K Jayaram Ayyar on Violin From birth Sri MNK stayed in Ramnathapuram until 1939, he moved to Trichy for 2 years than 1941 came to Madras to learn from Guru Palani Subramaniam. He and guru Palani shifted to Trichi once more and then came back to madras in 1962 After Guru Palani died he stayed in Guru Palani’s house looking after the great master’s widow and family until her passing away.
He accompanied Harikatha for many years, Sri MNK was fortunate to have heard many old Vidwans like Tiger varadachariar, Tanjore Vaidyanatha Ayyar, Srirangam Ayyangar, Muthia Bagawathar, In katcheries Sri MNK accompanied Mudikondon Venketaraman Madurai Mani Ayyar, Ariyakudi Ramanjua Ayyangar, Chembai Vaithyanatha Bagawathar, M.A. Kalyanakrishna, Alathur Venketesa Ayyar , Alathur Brothers, T.N. Swaminathan Pillai, Chitoor Subramaniam T.K. Rangachari, Satoor A.G Subramaniam, Karaikudi Sambasiva, Chitti Babu, S. Balachander,R Pitchumani , K.V.N., Rajam Ayyar, T.M.Thyagarajan, Madurai Somu M.K Thyagaraja & M.K Govinderaja, K.B Sundrambal M.D Ramanathan Balamurali, Lalgudi T.N.K., M.S Golalakrishnan Chandrasekaran Ayyar, Sivanandam &Sarada A. Muthia in violin T.Chowdiah, Govinderaja Pillai, Rajamanikam Pillai, Marangapuri Gopalakrishna Ayyar ,T.K Jayaram Ayyar he also played for some Kanjira concerts with C.S Murugaloopahty Palghat Raghu, TK Murthy, Tanjore Upenran, Vellore Ramabadran, N. Ramaswami Pillai and Guru Palani Subramaniam in Alathur Brothers Katcheries K.V.N. Rajam Ayyar, T.M.T, Madurai Somu M.K Thyagaraja& M.K Govindaraja, K.B Sundarambal M.D Ramanathan Balamurali, Lalgudi T.N.K., M.S Golalakrishnan, M.Chandrasekaran, on the whole he played for every senior musician. In his concerts Ghatam was by Salmagundi Vivaldri Ayer, Kodandaram Ayyar and Kanjira accompaniment was by Pudukottai Swaminathan, Dakshinamuthi Achariar, Settur Zamindar (Disciple of Guru Manpundia Pillai ), Udumalaipettai Marimuthu Pillai, V. Nagarajan, C.K. Shyamsunder and Morsing was by Mannargudi Natesa Pillai, Pudukottai Mahadevan, RV Pakiriswami, Sri MNK played his first AIR National programme with T.R Mahalingam and M.S.Gopalakrishnan on violin 1963 ,then in 1972 for M.M Dandapani Desigar 1975 for D.K Pattamal.
In 1962 Sri MNK played at the Vishnu Digambar festival in a percussion ensemble with Chatur Lal and Ayyar Kalvana Sundaram. In 1968 he went to Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Bulgaria with Sri T.N. Krishnan, Chitti, Babu, Ramabadran & Alangudi Ramachandran. Then in 1975 he went to Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Nairobi, with S. Rajam , Madras Kannan K.M.Vadyanathan &Tabla artiste. Sri MNK was suppose to travel to South Africa but never did so.
Sri MN Kandaswami played for Balamurali Krishna’s, Kanda Muki, Pallavi at Krishna Gana Sabha in 1970’s. He was full time accompanist to t to Smt T Brinda and T Mukhta for many years. In the later years he toured Russia and Germany with Smt. Mani Krishnaswami for whom he was a stock accompanist for over thirty years. He has also been the prime accompaniment to Sri Chengle put Ranganathan Laya Vidwan for over 40 years.
He has many disciples all over the world amongst the prominent are Late Sri. M V Udayshanker, Sri.MV Suryanarayanan, Trichy Rajaraman Ghatam, Sri. Arun Prakash, Shriram Krishnan, Sri .Shiva Shankar, Neyvelli Venkatesh, Mannarkoil J Balaji, M Ramachandran, Krishnamachari, Sudhaman Korumbu and a host of other disciples. Amongst his foreign disciples are Rajan and Shiva Padiachi, South Africa, they both currently run the Guru Manpundia Pillai Sangeetha Ashram in SA. At the behest of Sri T Ranganathan, Sri M N Kandaswami gave further and advances mridangam lessons to Sri Doudlas Knight at the request of Sri T Ranganathan.
Sri M N Kandaswami had two children, but they died very young.
He always hinted that Rajan and Shiva disciples from South Africa are those children.
Sri M N Kandaswami died tragically in an accident in 1995.