Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar or more popularly simply called Ariyakudi was born in Ariyakudi a town in the Karaikudi district of Tamil Nadu, South India in the year 1890. Ariyakudi was a Carnatic Music vocalist and is known for his unique style. He made his debut at Tyagaraja Aradhana in 1918. His unique style of singing came to be known as The Ariyakudi Tradition and is followed by his students.
The doyen of Carnatic Music, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer is known to have remarked “I was greatly influenced by Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. I do not want another life. But if there is one, I want to be able to sing like Ramanuja Iyengar”.
Ariyakudi seems to have had a special affinity for the mridangam and a feel for its potential for taking a concert to great heights. A fact which is perhaps not widely known is that Ariyakudi used to play the mridangam, for the love of it. And when he ran into Mani Iyer, it was as if he had found the very man he was looking for.
And another maestro G N Balasubramaniam, a contemporary of Ariyakudi is known to have prostrated in front of him out of respect. With Palghat Mani Iyer, the Mridangam maestro, he formed a formidable partnership on the concert platform and a remarkable friendship born out of mutual respect.
Ariyakudi learnt under Pudukottai Malayappa Iyer and Namakkal Narasimha Iyengar in his early years. Later he learnt for several years under Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar who was the senior most disciple of Patnam Subramania Iyer.
Awards & Titles
- Sangeetha Kalanidhi award (1938)
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1952)
- Isai Perarignar (1950) by Tamil Isai Sangam, Chennai
- Gayaka Shikhamani by Mysore darbar
- Sangita Ratnakara by Vellore Sangeetha Sabha
- Sangita Kala Shikhamani by Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai
- Padma Bhushan award by Indian Government in 1958