Musician S Ramanathan (1917-1988) was a Carnatic music singer and musicologist. He was awarded the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title in 1985 by Madras Music Academy.
Musician S Ramanathan । Carnatic music singer and musicologist
Musician S Ramanathan was born in Valavanur in 1917. Displaying a talent for music from a very early age, he went to Chidambaram for the Sangita Bhushanam course, after having obtained First Rank in the matriculation examination of the Madras Presidency.
He learned music from Tiger Varadachariar, Sabesa Iyer, Ponniah Pillai, and Sathur Krishna Iyengar. Post this, he also trained under Vidwan Valadi Krishnaiyer known as “Kirthana Kutir” – Granary of Kirthanas for vocal music and Devakottai Narayana Iyengar for the veena and acquired proficiency in both fields.
He received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where he also taught.
He had disciples who carved names for themselves such as P. Unnikrishnan, S. Sowmya, Savithri Sathyamurthy, Seetha Narayanan, Vasumathi Nagarajan, Sukanya Raghunathan (veena), his daughter Geetha Ramanathan Bennett (veena player and a renowned short story writer in Tamil) and her husband Frank Bennett, Vidya Hariharan (veena and vocal), Thiagarajan/Raju (Vocal), Banumathy Raghuraman (veena), Latha Radhakrishnan (violin and vocal), Padma Gadiyar (veena), Vanathy Raghuraman (Vocal), and the Krishnan Sisters (Padmapriya (veena and vocal), Harini (vocal) and Subhapriya (vocal).
He also composed many varnams and kritis, which have been popularized by his disciples. The American ethnomusicologist David Nelson studied with him.
In 1981 Ramanathan released an album of Carnatic music, Navagraha Kris (The 9 Planets), Cāturdaṡa Rāgamālika (The 14 Worlds), and Srī Gurunā: By Muttuswāmī Dīkṣitar (1775-1835), on Folkways Records.
His music was one of undiluted tradition embellished with his own knowledge of the authentic tunes of several critics, from Diva Nama Kirtanas to the humble Kavadi Chindu. Dr. S Ramanathan was awarded the Sangitha Kalanidhi in 1985, by the Madras Music Academy, the highest accolade awarded to Carnatic musicians in India.