Sangitha Kalanidhi, Dr.S.Ramanathan, was born at 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.
At Chidambaram, he was taught by teachers who were prominent maestros in their own right and he was soon the star performer amongst the students. He later learnt the Vina from Devakottai Narayana Iyengar and achieved proficiency in the same. Later he largely added to his repertoire during his stay with Tiger Varadachariar.
Dr Ramanathan, did research on music throughout his life, most prominent of his theses being the research into the 22 shrutis of Indian Music and his research on the musical references in the Tamil Epic Silappadikaram, for which he was awarded a doctorate by the Wesleyan University.
Dr Ramanathan was made Special Officer for the survey on Music and dance by the Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram in 1951. In 1962, he was appointed lecturer at The Central College of Carnatic Music. He later took classes at the Wesleyan, Washington, Illinois and Colgate Universities. He did a stint at The All India Radio and was also the principal of the Satguru Sangita Vidayalaya at Madurai. In 1977, he settled at Madras.
His music was one of undiluted tradition embellished with his own knowledge of the authentic tunes of several kritis, 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.