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Home > Hyderabad Business > Personalities > Music > Dr. Nookala Satyanarayana
[Music Personalities]  
Doyen of Carnatic Classical musicMahamahopadhyaya Dr. Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana is a doyen and a multi faceted carnatic classical musician from Andhra Pradesh. Gifted with a sonorous voice and great caliber, he adheres to classicism. He is a performer and lecture demonstrator of universal appeal and an author of some of the most valuable and enriching works on music.

Born on August 4, 1927 at Anakapally village in Andhra Pradesh to Yegnachayanamma and Annapurneswara Sarma, Nookala is known for his analytical approach, deeper understanding of the science and art of music and pepping up his style with unique new element of infusing the raga bhava in every note and every phrase. He is still the top ranking performer on All India Radio and Doordarshan. During his career that spanned over four decades, Nookala has hold various posts and positions. He has been conferred with many prestigious titles and awards too. Mahamahopadhyaya and President's Sangeeta Academy award, Nada Nidhi, Saptagiri Sangeeta Vidwanmani, Annamacharya Vidwanmani, Sangeeta Sarvabhauma, Sangeeta Ksheera Sagara, Ganakala Gandharwa, Lakshya Lakshana Marthanda, Sangeeta sudhakara and Hamsa were some of them. He is also the Asthana Vidwan of Sri Tirumala Tirupati Devastanam - Tirupati and Pittsburgh, USA

Even at the age of 74, Nookala is still looking enthusiastic to serve the classical music. "Music is an ocean and every musician should serve their best with impartial devotion," says the septuagenarian maestro in an exclusive interview with

Still enthusiasticCould you briefly tell us about your childhood?

Since my childhood, I am a deep admirer of music. I love music than any other thing in this world. Even though I was quite good in education, it was the classical music that attracted me right from the beginning. That's why I've stopped my education and started learning music.

When did you decide to learn music and where did you learn it?

I use to sing for dramas in my childhood . One fine day, I had been to a carnatic classical music programme given by one of the disciples of legendary violinist Dwaram Venkata Swami Naidu. The programme captivated many music lovers and me. I was very impressed by the show and ran to my father and compelled him to let me learn the music.

I learned music with such devotion that I am proud to say that my music Gurus were my mother, Dwaram Venkata Swami Naidu, Mangalampalli Pattabhi Ramaiah (Father of Mangalampalli Bala Murali Krishna), Sripada Pinakapani and Akkaji Rao.

Were your parents supportive of your interest in music?

My parents supported me a lot. It's my mother who fostered my talent and taught me the basic music, when I was a child. Observing my interest towards music, my father, who was a Srividya upasaka enrolled me at Dwaram Venkata Swami Naidu's music classes.

A dedicated musicianYou have chosen music as your career. Is there any particular reason?
Nothing but affection towards classical music.

Tell us about your career as a musician?

Without any efforts, opportunities came to me, which in turn moulded my career as a musician. I've worked as a professor for Maharaja's Music college of Vijayanagaram, Professor for Telugu University, Hyderabad, Principal for Govt. Music College of Hyderabad, Principal for Govt. Music college of Secunderabad, Principal for Govt. Music college of Vijayawada and Principal for Sri Venkateswara Music College of Tirupati, Chairman for Board of Studies, Andhra University and Sri Venkateswara University, Expert Member of Andhra University and Madras Music Academy and Member Audition Board and Committee for All India Radio.

I've been to 18 foreign Universities as a visiting professor. In my career one memorable incident was that, after my retirement from the service, I had been to England to give a lecture demonstration and returned to India. The moment, I came to my house, I was surprised to know that I've been invited as a Principal to the Music College of Hyderabad once again. I always felt proud to say that I retired twice in my career...(laughs).

Could you tell us about the memorable shows you have given
till today?

Almost all shows are memorable for me and there were some, which are more than that. Once, when I was in Belfast, Ireland, on audience request, I sung an English song in their own style and the same in the Indian classical style immediately. The whole theatre was thrilled by my experiment and gave me a standing ovation. I've once again received the similar honour in Madras when I gave lecture demonstration on 'Endaro Mahanubhavulu' keerthana at Madras Music Academy. And when I received the prestigious title 'Mahamahopadhyaya' given by Akhila Bharata Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya Mandali, Pune, I felt very excited.

More than these, I had the privilege of singing in the presence of Presidents of India, S. Radha Krishna and V.V. Giri and Prime Ministers of India, Jawaharlal Nehru and P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Have you created any new style in music?

When it comes to style, I've created my own 'Nookala style' of singing by never departing from classicism, and at the same time justifying and beholding the beauty of 'raga' and the meaning of the 'Kriti', with a special emphasis on the diction of the Kriti. Apart from this, I've also innovated a unique technique of teaching through audio media.

Do you feel that the classical music is struggling for survival?

Maestro, Dr. Nookala Chinna SatyanarayanaNo. There is no need for classical music to struggle. Classical music is an ocean. The ups and downs are just like waves. But, one should remember that spirit of music never dies.

Do you have any plans of serving the classical music at this age?

Since my childhood, I am serving the classical music with lot of determination . I was the President of Sangeeta Mitra Brindam, when I was in the learning stage at Visakhapatnam. Even today, I am working as the founder president of Viswakala Parishat and chairman of Akhilandra Sangeeta Parishad.

Do you think musicians of today are as committed as they were in the olden days?

Whether it is music or some other field, none can become an expert without having commitment. So, commitment is always there. But, when compared to the olden days, the new generation musicians are using the devotional music for their commercial purpose. I hope this will positively change in the near future.

What is your advice to aspiring young musicians of today?

Don't be commercial always and don't strive for giving programmes in the initial stage itself. I believe that as long as the upcoming musicians keep learning the music with devotion and interest, the money and fame will automatically come to them.

With his awardsApart from a classical singer, you are also a teacher and well-known author of many music related books. How does it feel to be a multifaceted personality?

I never felt that I'm a multifaceted person. I always believe in simple living and high thinking. As a musician I have taught, performed and also produced many audio cassettes and albums that are still receiving great applause from all corners of the globe. As an author, I'm always a satisfied person. I've written many books like 'The monograph of Tyagaraja'a Pancharatna Kritis', 'Ragalakshana Sangraham', 'Sangeetasudha', 'Sri Tyagaraja Saraswata Sarvaswam', etc., which are also familiar all over the world.
-Krishna Chaitanya Karanam
Photographs by: Srinivas Setty
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