Doraiswamy Iyengar

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Doraiswamy Iyengar
Mysore Venkatesha Doraiswamy Iyengar

Died28 October 1997(1997-10-28) (aged 76–77)

Mysore Venkatesha Doraiswamy Iyengar[1] (1920-1997[2]) was a Carnatic musician and one of the greatest exponents of the veena in modern Indian history. He was awarded Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1984. Born into a family of classical performing artists, he was the son of Venkatesha Iyengar, a learned vainika and royal musician at the court of the Princely State of Mysore.

He started learning the veena from his father at an early age and soon became a disciple of Veena Venkatagiriyappa, one of the foremost vainika of the day in Mysore. He performed in the presence of the then Maharaja of Mysore at the age of 12. Spellbound, the Maharaja presented him with a fifty-rupee silver coin and urged Venkatagiriyappa to nurture Doreswamy as he was bound to bring laurels to the Mysore State.

He gave his first public performance in 1943, at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja. He participated in music conferences including one in Shiraz, Iran, in 1969, where he was also invited to perform at the Shiraz Persepolis Festival of Arts. Over the course of his career, accolades poured in. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan,[3] the Chowdiah National Memorial Award, the Sangeetha Kalaratna of the Bangalore Gayana Samaj, the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani of the Indian Fine Arts Society (1994), and the Sangeetha Kalanidhi of the Madras Music Academy.

He received a BA degree from Maharaja's College, Mysore. He served as the Music Director at the All India Radio in Bangalore. The University of Mysore conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate in 1975.

In an age when most of the other Vainikas had started using the contact microphone, Doreswamy Iyengar remained a purist and stuck to the ‘acoustic’ Veena. His style of playing is sometimes referred to as the Mysore Style. This distinctive style is marked by the movements from one note to another being achieved with the playing fingers (the index and middle fingers of the left hand) parted. This, along with his prolonged, medieval string plucking style enabled him to achieve the continuity of sound so essential to Carnatic music.

The Veena is a solo instrument and is accompanied only by percussion instruments. However, the concerts of Doreswamy Iyengar accompanied by Mysore T Chowdiah on the violin became very popular. He participated in many Jugalbandis including other famous musicians such as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. He composed music for dance dramas, especially those of P. T. Narasimhachar, a renowned Kannada poet. Doriswamy also composed songs for a few Kannada films, notably Subbashastri, starring Kalyan Kumar.

His son, D. Balakrishna, who worked with Reserve Bank of India, is among the foremost Vainikas of the day and is the torchbearer of the unique Mysore style of playing the veena. C. Krishnamurthy, a disciple of Doreswamy Iyengar’s, was another Vainika of note.

Sri Iyengar was accompanied on Mridangam on many occasions by Karnataka State Awardee Sri V S Rajagopal.

Doreswamy died aged 77 in Bangalore.


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  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 December 2003. Retrieved 26 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.

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