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M. D. Ramanathan

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Biography

His life

M. D. Ramanathan (MDR) was born in Manjapara, Palghat District, Kerala on 20 May 1923. He had his early exposure and training in music from his father, Devesa Bhagavatar, who was a music teacher by trade. MDR attended Victoria College in Palghat, where he attained a B.Sc. degree majoring in Physics. He was well known in college as a talented vocalist. During this time, Ramanathan continued to progress his music studies and after completing his degree, he was taken to Madras by his father to further his musical career.

This was also the time when Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale had initiated the Sangita Siromani music course at Kalakshetra with the distinguished and respected Sri Tiger S. Varadachariar as Principal of the college. MDR auditioned for the course and was the only vocal student in the very first batch commencing in 1944.

Being the only student in the course meant that Ramanathan could receive extra special attention from Tiger Varadachariar. It is to be noted that Ramanathan is recognised as Tiger’s most renowned disciple. Ramanathan held his guru in very high regard and always showed the highest respect towards him. Indeed, a special relationship between the guru and sishya developed with Tiger also recognising his sishya’s talents. It has been said that MDR inherited even his guru’s squint! This relationship continued for six years until the death of Sri Varadachariar.

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