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Tiger Varadachariar – Renowned Musician

Tiger Varadachariar is a renowned musician of the 20th century CE. He was born at Kolathur of the musical discourser, Ramanujacariar. The renowned musicologists K.V. Srinivasa Ayyangar and Vainika (Pulihodarai) Krishnamachariar were his brothers. His sister was also a talented musician. When the family moved to Kaladipet near Madras (now Chennai), the musical instincts and receptive ears of Varadachariar drew inspiration and knowledge from bhajanas, dramas, etc., at a time when opportunities to learn were limited. Music was not then a prosperous vocation, and his father was disciplined to guide his sons towards expertise in it. But quite remarkably, all three sons became experts in the field. Varadachariar got encouragement from Photo Masilamani and Pedda Singaracaryulu, who were prominent then in promoting musicians. He was fortunate to enjoy gurukula vasa under the great titan, vocalist and composer, Patnam Subramania Ayyar, from the age of fourteen for three years.

His heart and mind pushed him more and more into music; yet economic constraints forced him to enter the Survey Department in August 1899 CE. Perhaps survey of fields, hills and dales instilled in him a deep sense of the vast vistas of Classical Carnatic music, which he took up later to survey, to the genuine exhilaration of rasikas. When he was at Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar, appreciating his music, conferred the title ‘Tiger’ on him. Tiger Varadachariar occupied prestigious posts, like The Head of the Department of Music, University of Madras; Principal, College of Music, Annamalai University; Principal, Teachers’ College, Music Academy, Madras. Finally he joined Kalakshetra, Madras, taught many, set to music Kumarasambhavam and composed songs. The Music Academy, Madras, honored him with the title ‘Sangita Kalanidhi’ in 1932 CE.