Kanchana V Subbarathnam (December 10, 1948 – October 27, 2005) was a carnatic music violinist of great repute. He was popular for extremely soothing soulful gayaki style of playing. He was an ‘A’ grade AIR artist and also a very good vocalist, who had composed many varnams, tillanas, pallavis and noted the lyrics of contemporary poets. He was a child prodigy, who at a tender age of 9 years accompanied maestros – Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Chakrakodi Narayana Shastri, Kanchana Venkata Subrahmaniayam (Subbarathnam’s father) and such others. At the age of 12 years, he accompanied maestro Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer and at the age of 16-17 years, he accompanied flute maestro T. R. Mahalingam. By observing Subbarathnam’s miraculous achievements at such a young age, the violin legend Piteelu Chowdiah gifted him his own violin twice! Together with his wife Rohini Subbarathnam, he trained many pupils on music disregarding all racial discrimination which prevailed in those years and provided free music education to many. He had also served as an active member in “Karnataka Sangeetha Nrithya Academy”, Bangalore.
Subbarathnam and his father had done commendable service in improvising music in the folklore art form – Yakshagana, which is popular in Dakshina Kannada District of Karnataka, India. Besides being a great artist himself, Subbarathnam was also a great art patron and had organized many grand music festivals for over 45 years.
Social Work and Contributions to Indian Culture
- Subbarathnam built a High School in the village of Bajathur, D.K, Karnataka – “Kanchana Venkata Subrahmaniam Memorial High School” (named after his father). He built it as a non-profit school on his family inherited land in his village to provide free education to all its students. He worked strenuously and singled handed through the Karnataka govt. education departments to get government salaries sanctioned for all its teachers.
- He served as lead administrator to two temples – “Nadpa Sri Vishnumoorthi Temple” and “Perla Sri Shanmukha Temple”. He donated a lot of land to both temples and paid generously for their maintenance. He had also made generous land and financial donations to other temples in that region – Uppinangady Sahasralingeshwara temple, Sharavoor Durga temple to mention a few.
- Subbarathnam together with his father Kanchana Venkata Subrahmaniam (1921-1982) did tremendous social welfare developments in village Bajathur – built a music school in Gurukula system (Kanchana Sri Lakshminarayana School of Music) and built free general education Higher Primary School. None the less, with tireless efforts of working with the government, they brought facilities such as telephone exchange, post office (in 1970s) – all built on their own private land to help the holistic development of the village. They both also worked very hard to bring the government bus transport facility (in 1960s) and in keeping it running (by buying vast amount of unused tickets) until the locals started using the bus transportation (instead of walking too long distances) to stabilize the bus frequencies.
- Subbarathnam also donated land to build local Panchanyat office in Bajathur village
- Subbarathnam and his wife Rohini sacrificed a great amount of time in providing free classical music training to many socially and financially challenged people, some of who are still successfully pursuing music as their carrier at present