‘Legends of our Land’ – Raallapalli Anantha Krishna Sharma (1893-1978)

The pioneering task of composing Thaallapaaka Annamacharya’s compositions in the classical format is attributed to Raallapalli Anantha Krishna Sharma. The compositions with their rich classical notes are melodious and appealing to audiences of all times, making them a musician’s delight and popular among art connoisseurs.

Rallapalli Anantha Krishna Sharma is a name to reckon with among the great maestros of the music world of the 20th century. He was a repository of both language and poetry. A legend of the art (music) world, he was a multifaceted stalwart – a musician, a violinist, a composer, a critic, an orator and a poet in Telugu, Kannada and Sanskrit.

Born in Ananthapur district, Raallapalli was introduced to Sanskrit and Telugu literature by his father, while his mother nurtured his inherent love for music. His higher education in Sanskrit was in Parakala Matha, Mysore. It was then that he understood the nuances of music under Guru Sri Kari Giri Rayaru and later continued advanced training under the tutelage of Bidaram Krishnappa for a long period of time. Meanwhile he became an affectionate friend to many a stalwart in the musical fraternity. One such close relationship was with the well-known veena maestro, Veena Seshanna. He was known as a great scholar and his views and judgements were highly respected.

Sri Raallapalli worked as a Telugu scholar in the University of Mysore between 1912 and 1949. He gave notations to Annamacharya’s krithis in the classical krithi format by writing the notes or swaras for the various compositions. This was published in 23 volumes commissioned by Heritage Research Center; Tirupathi. He was awarded D.Litt. for this pioneering work by Tirupathi Venkateshwara University.

Independent by nature, music was a great love but never a vocation for him. He was a strict disciplinarian and a vigorous practitioner of tradition. A connoisseur at heart, he led a simple life with high spiritual values. he was a warm-hearted person and an eternal optimist.

It was only natural for him to be bestowed with several prestigious awards such as Sangeeta Kalanidhi and Sangeeta Kala Prapoorna. He was respected and appreciated by several music and literary organizations.

Raallapalli is a legend today with Annamacharya’s krithis being sung by great musicians as well as by ordinary people in every household.

Legends of our Land

This is a translation of one of the articles from Heeriya Hejjegalu (in Kannada), the great work of Prof. S. K. Ramachandra Rao, published by Ananya. The book presents pen-potraits of the great legends in the field of music of our land, who made the country proud.

(Readers who are interested in purchasing Heeriya Hejjegalu can contact Drishti on 233377466 or Ananya Sangraha on 23440409).

Sharmila Mukerjee

Sharmila Mukerjee made her debut on stage as “Prakriti” in Tagore’s dance drama “Chandalika” while studying in Loreto House. Thereafter, completing her graduation in History Honours from Presidency College, Calcutta, Sharmila began her rigorous and intensive training in Odissi classical dance under the tutelage of Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, Sharmila had participated in a number of dance dramas choreographed and directed by him. She has also taken lessons in Abhinaya from the well known “Abhinaya” exponent, Smt. Kalanidhi Narayan, and attended workshops conducted by Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi.

Her performances at various prestigious conferences and festivals include the Dover Lane Music Conference (Calcutta) – 1989, the Kal-Ke-Kalakar Sangeet Sammelan (Mumbai)- 1988 after which she was awarded Singer Mani by the Sur Singar Samsad, Jhankar Music Conference (Calcutta) – 1990, Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Youth Festival (Trivandrum) – 1993, Salt Lake Music Conference (Calcutta) – 1996, Vrindavan Festival (U.P), – 1998, Uday Shankar Festival (Calcutta) 1999 & 2002, conducted a number of lecture demonstrations on Odissi at the American Consulate, Japanes Consulate and the Alliance Francaise Calcutta . Her lecture demonstration/performances have enthralled the American audiences, where she went on a scholarship to the University of Michigam (Ann Arbor) to study dance composition and contemporary dance in the year 2000.

Being a grade ‘A’ artist of Doordarshan, Sharmila has given a number of performances on television, she has also featured in the “Marg” publication of “Odissi Classical Dance”.

A teacher as well, Sharmila gave lessons on Odissi at the Calcutta School of Music. She also taught dance, rhythm and movement at The Oral School for Deaf Children.

Sharmila has toured New Zealand, Malayasia, Australia and Turkey & given number of performances and lecture demonstrations sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in the year 2003 and 2004.

She has shifted to Bangalore recently and currently teaches dance and movement at the Sheila Kothawala Institute for the Deaf and Odissi at the Shankara Foundation and the Arya Samaj.