T.K.Murthy was born on 13 August 1924 to Thanu Bhagavathar and Annapurni. At the age of eight, without any training, Murthy started playing mridangam. When the doyen of mridangam Thanjavur vaidyanatha Iyer visited his place, he found Murthy playing the instrument without any training. So Vaidyanatha Iyer decided to train him in mridangam. Vaidyanatha Iyer took Murthy to Tanjore where Palghat Mani Iyer and Thambuswami, brother of T.M. Thiagarajan were also undergoing training. Murthy was more like a biological son to his Guru Vaidyanatha Iyer and his wife. They showered love and care on him. Thus, Murthy found his mentor in Vaidyanatha Iyer, to whom he still offers ceremonial oblations and rites as a true son.
TK Murthy’s family was full of court musicians and he is the fifth generation of musicians. The family has been in music continuously for 7 generations now. His son T.K.Jayaraman was a music composer at All India Radio (AIR) and grandson Karthikeya Murthy is a film music composer.
Murthy made his debut at the age of eleven, at Coimbatore, in a concert of Musiri Subramania Iyer with Karur Chinnaswami Iyer on violin and Tanjore Vaidyanatha Iyer on mridangam. That was the start of an illustrious career in which he has accompanied in more than 15,000 concerts so far. He has accompanied eminent artists over five generations. Although Murthy is a staunch follower of the Thanjavur style of mridangam, he was highly influenced by the artistry of the legendary Palani Subramanian Pillai of the Pudukottai school of mridangam playing. This blend of the Thanjavur and Pudukottai schools has become the hallmark of T.K.Murthy’s special style. His style also incorporates highly calculative patterns delivered with striking clarity and suddenness.
He has the unique achievement of accompanying five generations of guru-sishya parampara.He also has the distinction of having given accompaniment to Smt M.S.Subbulakshmi for more than forty years including for the concerts at United Nations and Edinburgh Festival. His versatility is such that he played for street drama, puppet show, Barathanatyam, etc. He also sings well in Carnatic and Hindustani styles, and plays Ghatam, Kanjira and other percussion instruments with ease. He is a master in Konnakol as well. He is the only artiste in the world to have composed and played Mohra and Korvai for 35 Talas, 72 Melakartha Talas and also for 108 Talas.
He has dedicated his whole life to the world of carnatic music. Beside being an accomplished mridangam player, he is an excellent teacher too. He has proved to the world that he is a disciple of Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer, who himself was one among the best mridangam teachers ever. He has many several disciples who are prominent in the Carnatic music field in their own right, such as J.Vaidyanathan,K.V Prasad, K.P. Parameswaran, B.Sivaraman, B.C.Manjunath, Perunna Harikumar in mridangam, and B.S.Purushottaman, K.V.Gopalakrishnan, Anirudh Athreya on Khanjira.
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