Tirumakudalu Chowdiah was a violin maestro from India in the Carnatic classical tradition. Chowdiah, was born in Tirumakudalu village on the banks of the river Kaveri near Mysore. He became a disciple of Mysore Royal Court musician, Ganavisharadha Shri. Bidaram Krishnappa in 1910 and underwent a very rigorous and disciplined training until 1918 in the gurukula system.
In his early years, he played the four stringed violin, and by 1927 he became an extremely well known violin accompanist.Those were the days when there was no sound amplification equipment and it was rather difficult for listeners who sat in the back rows of music halls to hear him playing the violin.
Chowdiah realized this shortcoming and launched upon increasing the sound of the violin. He improvised the violin by adding three more strings such as Tara Shadja – Mandra Shadja, Madhya Panchama – Mandra Panchama and Madhya Shadja Mandra Shadja.
After practicing incessantly, he began to use new seven stringed violin in all his concerts. He experimented, innovated and practiced to achieve perfection, all without the knowledge of his Guru (teacher). With his devoted practice, Shri. Chowdiah became a very great violinist. The name Chowdiah and the violin were synonymous with each other.
With Bidaram Krishnappa’s encouragement, courage and mastery, Shri Chowdiah, earned fame, affection and respect from all his great contemporaries. All musicians desired to have him as their violin accompanist. It is said that the brilliant vocalist Shri G.N. Balasubramanyam would request sabha secretaries, who wanted to arrange his concert, that they should talk to Chowdiah’s first to make sure he is available to accompany on violin.
By devoted practice, application, grit and learning, Shri Chowdiah rose to Himalayan heights in the world of Carnatic music. As a guru Shri Chowdiah would not sit with his disciples during fixed hours a standard practice in those days. As a guru he taught many of his disciples for about 8–10 years.
He would enforce a sense of discipline that required the shishyas wake up early in the morning everyday and practice akara sadhana. Chowdiah designed the seven-stringed violin to ensure that the accompanist could match the vocalist (the need for this was felt especially in the early and mid-20th century when no amplification devices were available).
He was known as Pitilu Chowdiah – Pitilu (fiddle) being the word for violin in South Indian languages such as Kannada and Telugu. As he hailed from Tirumakudalu Narasipura near Mysore, so he is also known as Mysore T. Chowdiah. After a stellar career as a performing artist, innovator, guru and composer, Shri T. Chowdiah left his mortal remain in 1967 at the age of 72.