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Karaikudi V. M. Ganesan, senior mridangam vidwan passes away

V.M.GanesanChennai-based artiste, Karaikudi V. M. Ganesan, a senior mridangam vidwan passed away on April 4 while in Hyderabad. His body was flown to his home in Mandavelipakkam, Chennai and the last rites were scheduled for Friday, April 5.

He was 75 years old and was active on the concert stage till the last.

Ganesan was the son of mridangam vidwan Karaikudi Muthu Iyer. He was born in and spent his childhood in Karaikudi. He moved to Madras when his father took up a lecturer's job at Central College of Carnatic Music in Madras.

While living on Mari Chetty Street, 'Flute' Swaminathan Pillai was a neighbour and Ganesan had said in an earlier conversation with KutcheriBuzz that he used to listen to Pillai practicing and got the opportunity to be at informal meets next door when Carnatic music stalwarts like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar would visit Pillai.

Mari Chetty Street is now called Mari Street in Mandaveli, Chennai. Ganesan recalled the old days when the trams from Parry's Corner would stop opposite the street, which was full of tiled houses. 

Ganesan learnt to play the mridangam from his father, his sole guru. He started playing at a very early age. He recalled playing in a All India Radio (AIR) programme for small children – in the sub 7-year old category.  Music maestro G. N. Balasubramaniam ( GNB) was a friend of his father's and when he learnt that the young Ganesan was due to play that day, he arrived early to listen to him and treated him to sweets and savouries at the AIR canteen after the programme.

Ganesan studied at P. S. High School, Mylapore and then moved on to Vivekananda College for his B. Com studies. During his school days, he was also a cricket player and the famous India cricketer, S. Venkatraghavan was his team mate. Following an accident while playing cricket, Ganesan stopped playing the game and focussed on playing the mridangam.

Many musicians were also his college mates – T. V. Sankaranarayanan and Trichy Sankaran, to name the wellknown among them. He recalled 'jamming' with some fellow musicians like Mannargudi Eswaran.

Ganesan recalled attending kutcheris at R. R. Sabha, Mylapore in the late 1950s where The Music Academy used to host its conference and concerts in those days. "There was also a huge tent erected behind the P. S. School grounds and this was also a venue for kutcheris," he recalled.

Ganesan performed at major city sabhas and went on concert tours and was often the accompanist to his wife, Kalyani Ganesan who plays the veena. 

He also taught music at the Dept. of Music, Annamalai University.

One of his daughters is vocalist Dr. Subha Ganesan. Music lessons and conversations on musicians and music made the Ganesan's home a lively place.

Address: No.30/1, 3rd Trust Cross Street Mandavelipakkam, Chennai 600028.