Sangita Kalanidhi Dr. S. Ramanathan
When I first arrived in Madurai in June, 1970, I was taken to the Sri Sathguru Sangeetha Vidyalaya, the music
college affiliated with Madurai University and introduced to the Principal, Sri S. Ramanathan.
I told Sri Ramanathan of my interest in studying mrdangam, to which he genially replied, "Oh, yes, we have a
great mrdangam teacher here in Madurai; I will take you to him. But mrdangam is an accompaniment instrument.
You should also learn vocal music so that you know what you are accompanying." I thanked him and agreed that this
was a good idea. He then said, "Fine. You can learn from me. You can come to my house."
The next day he took me to meet Sri Sankarasivam, and then to his own house, where we began
singing lessons. His house was always full of students of all ages and levels of experience, and it seemed that
he was always teaching. In Middletown two years later, he opened his home to me again. I stayed with him and his
daughter Geetha while I worked on my Senior Thesis. Again, his home was always open to students, including some
who became well known. One day there was a knock on the door. When I answered it, a man just a few years older than
I was standing there. "Is Mr. Ramanathan at home?" he asked, an English accent confirming my suspicions
as to his identity. I said that he was not, and the young man said, "Well, my group is performing here tonight.
I brought some tickets for you all." So we all went to hear John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra.
For more information about Sri Ramanathan, see
Photo from the Wesleyan Archive