Iyengar was a shining star in the galaxy of famous vainikas
Born on August 11, 1920 at Gaddavalli village in Hassan
district. Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar came from a family steeped
in classical music. Music was in his blood and his father
Venkatesha Iyengar was himself a vainika of eminence.
Doreswamy Iyengar's guru was his own father who initiated
him into the world of music. However it was Venkatagiriyappa
under whose tutelage Doreswamy Iyengar blossomed as
a young and talented vainika through a rigorous training
in the typical gurukula system. Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar
used to recall that his father taught him the rudiments
- sarali alankaram in three kalams, gitas, and swarajatis.
His guru Venkatagiriyappa taught him nearly 20 rare
and time-honoured varnams, some kirtans and one or two
pancharatna kritis. The ``Siddhi'' which Doreswamy Iyengar
attained was due to the strict discipline imposed by
Venkatagiriyappa who made his ``Sishya'' repeat any
portion where he committed mistake 15 or 20 times till
he became perfect. Venkatagiriyappa taught Doreswamy
Iyengar the Chitta Tanam which had been specially composed
by Veena Seshanna for vainikas to understand the method
of playing tanam. He was hardly 12 when he was appointed
Asthana vidwan by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV of
Mysore, a great patron of music.
One of his earliest performances as a boy was at the
Rama Mandir at Mysore (founded by Bidaram Krishnappa)
in the presence of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and
violin maestro T. Chowdaiah.
He was a well known vainika by the age of 16 or 17 and
was giving concerts. However, he did not neglect his
general education and graduated in Arts from the Maharaja's
College in Mysore. The University of Mysore conferred
its honorary doctorate on him in 1976.
The first of his major performances came in 1943 at
the Bangalore Gayana Samaja. He played the veena at
the Rasika Ranjani Sabha of Chennai in 1944. The next
year he was to play at the Music Academy, Chennai, during
the annual festival presided over by the redoubtable
Vainika Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer.
Unassuming and affable, Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar was associated
with All India Radio, Bangalore, where he had produced
a memorable series on the post-Thyagaraja composers
of Karnataka. This had won wide acclaim. He had been
accompanied in his concerts by such well known instrumentalists
as Palghat Mani Iyer (mridangam) and T. Chowdaiah, Lalgudi
Jayaraman, M. S. Gopalakrishnan and T. N. Krishnan.
Though he was not for playing jugalbandis, he had played
the veena once or twice with Ali Akbar Khan and Amjad
Ali Khan on the sarod.
Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar was awarded the Padma Bhushan
in 1983, the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title of the Music
Academy, Chennai in 1985, Sangeetakala Rathna of the
Gayana Samaja, Bangalore (1976), Central Sangeetha Natak
Academy Award in 1971 and the Karnataka Nritya Academy
Award in 1971. He received the Academy of Music, Bangalore's
Chowdaiah Memorial National Award in 1985 from the then
President, Zail Singh. In 1994, the Indian Fine Arts
Society, Chennai, honoured him with its ``Sangeetha
Kala Sikhamani'' title.
There was hardly any organisation connected with music
and the arts which had not invited him to present his
concerts. He was a guest artiste at the millennium celebrations
of the Persian Empire in 1969, undertook concert tours
of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and Britain playing
the dual role of exponent and interpreter of Carnatic
music. He played in the Festival of India held in Germany
in 1990 and conducted a Pancha Veena concert at Leningrad
in Russia. Dr. Doreswamy Iyengar was a former President
of the Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy, during his
career spanning more than six decades.