Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu (8 November 1893 – 25 November 1964) was one of the most distinguished carnatic music violinists of the 20th century. He hails from a family of Kasimkota cultivators (around 6 KMs from Anakapalli and 30 KMS from Vizag)) who later moved to Bengaluru. Naidu was partially blind.
Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu was born on 8 November 1893, which happened to be Deepavali day, in Bangalore, and was brought up in Visakhapatnam. His father Venkata Rayudu was a Commissioned Officer in the Army.
Venkataswami first learnt music from his father and then brother, Krishnayya Naidu. Krishnayya Naidu enabled Venkataswamy to improve his knowledge of the western tradition with tuition from a British station master. Krishnayya later gained exposure to classical music from Nandigana Venkanna Pantulu , who was Court musician at Bobbili and in turn he taught his younger brother Venkataswamy the violin at the age of 6.
Thereafter, Venkataswamy learnt classical music under noted vocalist and Veena vidwan Tumarada Sangameswara Sastry and joined Maharaja’s Music College, Vizainagaram as professor of Violin at the young age of 26, and became its principal in 1936.
Marepalli Ramachandra Rao, an eminent music critic was overjoyed while listening to Venkataswamy, young boy of 14 years age playing violin and christened him “Fiddle Naidu” later this became a household name and people started calling Venkataswamy “Fidelu Naidu”.
His first solo concert was given in Vellore in 1938. Though Violin was used in Carnatic music even before Fidelu Naidu (by Artists like- Govindaswami Pillai 1878-1931 and Tirukodikaval Krishna Iyer 1857-1913 among others who also gave solo performances) it was Fidelu Naidu who made it very popular and set a trend in Violin solo concerts in Carnatic music. In due course Violin has almost replaced Veena in Carnatic music.
Fidelu Naidu blended the techniques of both western and Hindustani in his renditions without compromising on the traditional Carnatic music. Naidu was known for his extremely well developed soft bowing technique combined with a firm fingering technique. He could even produce the sound of mrudangam on his violin! He wrote several articles on music.
He used to caution his disciples against missing practice even for a day saying “If you don’t practice for one day, you will notice your mistakes, if you don’t practice for two days the audience would notice your mistakes!”. He considered music riyaz as Tapas. In the words of Sangeeta Kalanidhi Sripada Pinakapani who was also Naidu‘s disciple, “Naidu garu did two sessions of practice every day without fail at home. He allowed his students to sit and listen to him practice. His evening practice session was as good as a full-fledged concert.”
Naidu used to play the compositions of famous German musicians like Mendelssohn and Johann Sebastian Bach and others for his friends. He performed at Delhi in 1952 in aid of Blind Relief Association.
Yehudi Menuhin, a world-renowned violinist, was greatly impressed when he heard Dwaram play at Justice P. V. Rajamannar’s house. The famous Telugu playback singers Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao and P.Suseela learned Carnatic music in Maharaja’s Music College, Vizianagaram when Dwaram Naidu was the principal. Noted Carnatic musician Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana, Kalaimamani Smt. Radhanarayanan are also disciples of Naidu.
In 1950, he was the first musician to receive the honorary doctorate degree of Kala Prapoorna from Andhra University. He was also the first musician to receive Padma Shree award from the Government of India in 1957.
Awards & Honours
- Madras Music Academy presented him with Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1941.
- The Indian Fine Arts Society honoured him with Sangeetha Kalasikhamani award in 1941.
- Andhra University conferred on him Kala Prapoorna in 1950.
- Sangeet Natak Academi Award in Fine Arts in 1953.
- Padma Shree Award by the Indian Government in 1957.
- Indian Postal Department has released a commemorative stamp on his birth centenary in 1993.
- Statues of Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu have been erected in Visakhapatnam and Chennai.
His son Dwaram Bhavanarayana, daughter Dwaram Mangatayaru and nephew Dwaram Narasinga Rao are renowned violin players. His granddaughter Dwaram Lakshmi and grandson Dwaram Venkata Krishna Ganesha Tyagaraj are established singers.
In the words of Dr. Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, “For violin, Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, for vocal, Ramakrishnayya Pantulu. They were responsible for music in Andhra Pradesh.”
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