Papanasam Sivan (1890-1973)

Pāpanāsam Sivan was born in the year 1890 at Polagam village near Tanjore as the second son of Rāmāmřtha Aiyar and Yōgāmbāļ. Rāmiāh as he was named, evinced keen interest in music. His mother, who was highly proficient in music, fostered his instinct to some extent. After his father's demise in 1899, the family shifted to Trivandrum and for nearly twelve years, Sivan went from place to place singing devotional songs and accepting food offered by the people. The greatest influence of Sivan during his stay at Trivandrum was Nīlakaņţa Sivan, whose compositions he frequently sang in bhajans. Crowds used to gather to listen to him sing in ecstacy.

Once after listening to the spell binding music of Kōnērirājapuram Vaidyanātha Iyer, Sivan approached him and asked to be taken as his disciple. Vaidyanātha Iyer generously agreed and for seven years, Sivan practically lived with him.

Sivan gave his first concert at Tiruvaiyāru at the Tyāgarāja festival in 1918 accompanied by Pāpa Veňkaţrāma Iyer on the violin and Azhaganambi piļļai on the mrdaňgam.

Sivan has a number of compositions of every variety of form and content to his credit. He has composed in all rakti rāga-s besides křti-s in rāga-s like Mānď, Hamsānandi, Hamsanādam, Nāgaswarāļi, Behāg and Sivarañjani.

He has given us more than ten pieces in Tōďi, each with a different melodic structure. It proves not only the inexhaustible nature of our rāga system but also the genius of Sivan as a composer.

He composed songs and entered the world of films as a composer. He has even acted in some dramas and two or three films, the most moving role being Kuchēla. He has authored the Sanskrit lexicon called Vaďamozhi Chorkaďal. Sivan has carved a permanent niche in the temple of Karnāţik music and will ever be remembered as a eminent composer of the 20th century.