Ganesh and Kumaresh
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|Ganesh and Kumaresh|
Ganesh and Kumaresh at IIM Bangalore
|Also known as||Violin Brothers / Fiddling Monks|
|Years active||1972 - Present|
Ganesh and Kumaresh are noted Indian duo of violin players who are a part of the Carnatic music (South India) fraternity. The brothers are best known as modern contemporary artists who have done lot of service to "Sastriya Sangitam". They are a dynamic duo of violinists, who have carved a niche for themselves in this era of great violinists. The brothers have gone deeper into the realm of the music and brought out a refreshingly original content and style for the instrument.
Ganesh and Kumaresh both were born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh in 1964 and 1967 respectively, where their father Sri T.S. Rajagopalan was employed in Life Insurance Corporation of India. Their musical training started at home at the unbelievable early age of 3 & 2. Rare of the rarest incidents that could happen to a child at this early an age is easy access to musical instruments with a wow atmosphere where many children of different age groups shared these instruments with them, as many children in that North Indian city came to their house to learn from their parents. They started learning from their father. [if you would allow I shall upload the photo of their sharing the musical instruments with other children]It was virtually a divine gift to them. In the normal circumstances, if some one tries to teach a child at that youth the child would protest and may even run away. On the other hand, the same child would get easily motivated, if it finds the group of children are a joyful lot happily engaged in learning the art. That mirth and fascination kindle its curiosity! This is exactly what did happen. There was spontaneous surge of aspiration. One day Ganesh expressed his desire and became part of the group. Moreover, an element of competition pushed and provoked the child to fare better! After a year or two, the little one Kumaresh sprang a surprise. As he observed his elders were struggling to play notes on the upper octave, he snatched the violin from his father and produced the notes without much ado! The miracle was that he was not taught either how to hold the violin or the difficult aspect of bowing. You have to see it to believe how he performed at that early age. See in the photograph here how the tiny tot was performing. These children could also watch stalwarts of Carnatic and Hindustani systems of music practicing in their house as local Hindustani musicians and Carnatic musicians from the faculty of Benares and Delhi Universities’ music department frequented Rajagopalan’s house. Musicians from South too came occasionally because Rajagopalan invited these musicians to perform in his Kanpur Sangita Sabha. With the active support of the faculty of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, it was possible for him to arrange these concerts. Ganesh and Kumaresh started performing on the stage at a very early age taking the audience by surprise for their finesse as the photographs and press reviews reproduced here reveal. Soon the family had to move to Delhi and thence to Mumbai as Rajagopalan's job took them, where they continued their musical journey with more vigour and alacrity alongside their schooling. Finally, in the year 1975 family landed in Chennai.
While the father taught the nuances of the art of playing violin their mother explains how she helped them to perfect and hone their artistry is explained by her in an article in the popular Magazine.
Excerpts of a few picked up press reviews are here:
The Hindu Friday dated May 7, 1976
The violin acquires a heavier melodic tone and colour in the interpretation of classical Carnatic Music and these were presented with remarkable skill and artistry by an extraordinarily talented boy duet. Ganesh (12) and R.Kumaresh (9) provided instrumental fare, which was as exciting for its musical strength as for its engaging cutcheri trappings.
Confidence and musical competence of a high order were prompt to appear in the opening varnam itself and “Chalame (Nattaikurinchi), beautiful in its first movement, saw the familiar trick of acceleration of pace in its final sections very successfully employed by these boys. “Sri Mahaganapatim” (Gowlai) came through arresting with the costmary rhythmic gait variations in the chittaswaras. Kamboji was courageously taken up by Ganesh for the first raga venture of the evening and it was well built up blending delicacy of musical line with forceful passages that made sure of impact. All the needed virtuosity was there. The piece played in Kambhoji was “Sri Subramanyaya” the rendition was good and the swara round were well mounted to lead to a calculated applause winning finale. Particularly endearing was the playing of little Kumaresh whose violin appeared bigger than him and whose precise Swara contributions were made without any ado. More cutcheri worthy fare came in “Varanaradha” in “Vijayashri”, the popular Bhavayami Raghuramam and “Dasarathe” (Todi)….” Yet younger in age and size Ganesh and Kumaresh were so babyish and pint sized that they could not see even the finger board of the violin, while they held it in the sitting position. The music they produced was like veterans. That was the reason they could easily come to the forefront. There were senior Maestros and veterans in the field ruling the roost who were rather striding the field of music as colossus.
TIMES OF INDIA DELHI EDITION DATED 26.1.1978:
"...When a couple of boys clad in half-pats and not yet in their teens, climb on the platform to give a recital of classical music, one gets prepared to muster all the indulgence at one’s command . But Ganesh and Kumaresh who offered a violin recital at Vigyan Bhavan on Sunday, showed proficiency that compels serious attention. The main raga of the evening was Kalyani, handled by Ganesh with considerable ease, his sense of melodic beauty was also commendable. Above all, the confidence which the two boys displayed was phenomenal. The Tanam which they developed was what any seasoned artiste could be proud of. As the years go by, they are bound to be in the forefront among violinists…” – The first review is from the Delhi edition of Times of India carrying a prophetic remark “As the years go by, they are bound to be in the forefront among violinists.” No wonder why they were honored within a short time of this prediction. Along with M.S. Gopalakrishnan, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Padma Subrahmanuam and Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan on the same dais these young Ganesh and Kumaresh were appointed as State Arftistes by the Tamil Nadu Government. The controversial “Subbudu” too,for his witty and sometimes irritating caustic comments, also came out with superlative shower of praises in his review on their performance in Statesman dated 23 January 1978. "...They have not even reached their teens and yet revealed a sound grasp of the classical idioms. The way they handled alapana, kriti and Swaraprashtaras were eloquent testimony to this.” Child prodigies invariably belie hopes because of over-enthusiasm and pampering.” Subbudu immediately corrected his assertion and said, “Not so, in the case of Ganesh Kumaresh who gave a fine violin recital in aid of Cyclone relief Fund at Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi..."
Another popular daily Hindustan Times dated 26 January 1978 from the capital did not lag behind in registering its excitement: “….Child prodigies In Carnatic Music are rare and when one come across one it is a real event. This was precisely the excitement provided in Sunday’s violin duet of Ganesh and Kumaresh presented by the Karnataka Sangeetha Sabha in collaboration with the South India Club in aid of the CYCLONE RELIEF FUND…” "...Ganesh not even taller than the vertically held Tanpura behind him and pint-sized Kumaresh, who could just peek over the violin he was playing displayed a surprising confidence and mastery over the instrument…..” Deccan Herald – Bangalore l5.3.1977
“...Two chubby butts , Ganesh and Kumaresh playing on the violin that almost measured up to their chins raised the curiosity…no sooner had they bowed than the audience felt the thrill of the concert. Ganesh the elder took over the melodic skeins of a raga picturing it with smooth phrasings and modulated pauses while Kumaresh, the younger still mischievous little boy embellished it with bold contours and soft hues …” Free Press Bulletin – Bombay 11-11-1977
“Twelve year old Ganesh and his brother Kumaresh astounded the audience by their talent and mature rendering of the ragas. Their confidence, deftness, sense of dal, rhythm and clear and simple rendering of ragas kept the audience spell bound. It was indeed a treat from two artists who were hardly visible over the violin…” Nagpur Times 25 October 1977 "...LITTLE WIZARDS OF VIOLIN “… The ease and swiftness with which they played on the violin was highly amazing. Ragas and swaras seemed to just flow out of their nimble fingers in all their myriad sparkling patterns….the delicate and mellifluent nuances of this ragas seemed to meander through like a stream of nectar… the duo proved that the banner of classical carnatic music would be held aloft even in the teeth of the indifference of some sections of the younger generation to its richness…” Indian Express - Kakinada 20th February 1979
Ganesh and Kumaresh completed their 100th stage appearance before the younger brother (Kumaresh) was ten years of age. By the time they reached their teens they were rubbing shoulders with veterans in musical field.
Dr. Sushila Mishra, Chairman UP State Sangit Natak Academy, while reviewing in the Hindu [published from Delhi dated 18th December 1992] their concert at the Uttar Dakshin Cultural Organization's Tansen Tyagaraja festival observed "they had acquired such high proficiency that AIR had to set aside its strict rule regarding 'minimum age restrictions' and give them high gradings.
Ganesh and Kumaresh, apart from performing, they also score music for films and dance productions. Their music for the movie Dance like a Man and Chandrikai is widely appreciated. Their own musical form raga pravaham brings out their grasp of the intricacies and aesthetics of the Indian ragam and thalam – the very essence of Indian music.
They performed at several global festivals, their creative idiom is international and their communication through music crosses all boundaries. They performed extensively in India, USA, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Middle East, South East Asia, Maldives, Australia etc. They also appeared in the Doordarshan Bharati's musical clip Ad for national unity along with veterans in music, sports and various fields (as national representative of their respective field).
- Colours of India
- Carnatic Chills
- Academy of Music Chowdiah Award for the year 2016
- Asthana Vidwans of the Sri Matam of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and Sringeri Sharada Madhom.
- State Artistes of Tamil Nadu while still in their teens
- The youngest ever child violinists to be recognised as high grade artistes by All India Radio and subsequently again as youngest violinists as "A-top" ranking artistes
- Dwaram Venkata Swami Naidu award
- Titles: Kalaimamani, Sunaada Sironmani, Sangeetha Saragnya, "Sarasahana Praveena" and many more.
Views of other artists
Ustad Zakir Hussain: The duos were child prodigies who started performing before they entered the age of ten. Since then they have entered the ranks of the great living performers of IndianMusic. I have performed with Ganesh Kumaresh in the USA and Europe as well as in India. They are creative in their performances and their style includes a unique touch that expresses every emotion in the raga. They have remarkable stage presence and enthrall the audiences with their performances.
Dr. Balamuralikrishna: Ganesh and Kumaresh are very accomplished musicians who have contributed to the enrichment of Indian style of violin playing. Their style of music bridges the gap between the young and old and opens up fresh ideas and avenues of creativity.
A.R. Rahman: "After traveling extensively to four countries when I come back to Chennai I am often asked why I choose to live here? The reason is simple because my house is here and Ganesh and Kumaresh are here." So said A.R Rahman as he launched the new age violin album "Carnatic chills" brought out by Ganesh Kumaresh.(Deccan chronicle 12 February 2007)
M.S. Gopalakrishnan: Music fraternity knows the great living legend Shri M.S.Gopalakrishnan did inimitable Tapas on the art of mastering to play the violin. He was the first person to perfect a style to perform both the branches of Indian Sastriya Sangitam. He declares the young brothers as the best duo of the present generation.
Isaignani Ilayaraja: This made the "Isaignani Ilayaraja" who was also present on the occasion (see the photograph below), to tell the brothers, what better encomiums they could look forward. He compared the occasion to that of Brahmarishi Vasishtar conferring the title of “Brahmarishi” on Maharishi Viswamitra.
Until recently all instrumentalists have been emulating faithfully what the vocal musicians performed in the popularly known gayaki style. Each instrument has its place of originality, individuality and limitations. Introduction of violin to Sastriya Sangitam has brought about a drastic change inasmuch as this instrument could surpass the melodic skeins, contents and possibilities. Ragapravaham, the brain child of these young brothers has over a short period of time become an instant hit all over the world. It is nothing but elaborating the traditional ragas, unfathoming their hypnotising melodic contents. Embracing and encompassing the other brotherly western instruments, like the Guitar,keyboard, drum in addition to the traditional Mridangam, Kanchira, Ghatam etc. Ragapravaham has caught the imigination of the youth in a big way.
In 1983, M.G. Ramachandran, the former Chief minister of Tamil Nadu, has occasion to hear a television concert of the gifted brothers. He was so moved by their talent and accomplishment that he sent them a personal note of appreciation. He wrote, "I was wonderstruck with your talent. My hearty greetings to both of you. I am sure you will reach greater heights in your career." He subsequently made them State Artistes of Tamil Nadu.