N.Rajam and S. Sangeeta
by Mohan D. Nadkarni
N. Rajam, born in 1939, ranks among the most eminent violin virtuosi of our time. What adds to her distinction is that she also holds a doctorate in traditional music and has contributed significantly to the field of musicological history and research. Presently she heads the Faculty of Performing Arts at Banaras Hindu University.
Coming of a family of traditional musicians from the South, Rajam had her first lessons in Carnatic music on the violin from the age of four. Her father, A. Narayana Iyer, was himself a well-known violinist, and he put her through a rigorous course of training.
It was with the active encouragement of her father that she made a switch-over as violinist in Hindustani music. Pandit Omkarnath Thakur was so impressed by her prodigious command over her violin that he took the teenager as his disciple and gave her his guidance and inspiration in her pursuit.
Rajam first emerged on the musical scene as an inseparable accompanist to Panditji. In the intervening years, she devised and perfected a new technique in violin-playing which proved to be suitable for adapting vocal music on his instrument. It is therefore just as well that as a soloist, she has come to be acclaimed as the first virtuoso to succeed in adapting khayal gayaki on the violin. A much sought-after violinist both at home and abroad, she is a recipient of Padmashri award, besides other accolades and distinctions.
Sageeta, Rajam's only daughter arid disciple, is a chip of the old block. At 30, this housewife and mother of two children has made her mark at national and international levels by her superb musicianship as a soloist. Her partnership with her mother has been rightly hailed as ideal.
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