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Remembering veena Chittibabu
I was at the Music Academy this morning (December 30, 2008) as they have dedicated this day to the memory of the veena maestro late Chittibabu. It was a very nice gesture on the part of the Academy to dedicate each day to a different artiste who has contributed so much to our music by having some renowned person from the music world to speak about the artist. However, the Academy could have gone a step further and asked someone who knew Sri Chittibabu personally to speak about him instead of Sri T.R. Subramaniam, who was chosen to do the task. Sri Subramaniam is a great musicologist, artiste, composer and speaker. And, this is not to disrespect him in anyway. But he was given five minutes to speak about the artiste who had dedicated more than 50 years of his life to veena. Other than the fact that the instrument veena attained the concert instrument status because of Sri Chittibabu, there was nothing else.

Sri Chittibabu increased the adhara shruthi of the veena to make the sound more pleasant to the ears. He was not only a performer but also a composer who had composed several kritis - `Sama gana vinodhini' in Chandra Kaus, `Pahi prabho' in Hamsanandhi and `Anandha raga nilaye' in Anandha, to name a few. He had also composed thillanas in ragas such as Vasanth Bahar, Kathanakuthuhalam and one in the raga Thilang in Misrajampai tala with the lyrics in charanam dedicated to his Guru Sri Emani Shankara Sastry. He was the first one to compose operatic pieces without lyrics to tell stories. Radha Madhavam and Shiva Leela Vilasam are two such compositions where the stories of Krishna's Rasa Leela and Shiva, Ganga and Gowri were told, respectively.

He was also an eloquent speaker, who had the command of the English language. He had written articles on rare composers such as Sarangapani and his padams and these articles were published in several prestigious newspapers and magazines such as The Hindu. Mysore Maharaja took the necklace that had the pendant of the state emblem of Eagle embedded with rubis, diamonds and other precious stones form his neck and presented it to Sri Chittibabu after listening to his explanations of the kriti "Nee chithamu" by Tyagaraja in the raga Vijayavasantham over 40 years ago.

Above all, he was very dedicated son, husband and father.

It would have been nicer if Sri TRS had done a little bit of research before today's speech.
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