He left behind a timeless legacy that harmonizes with the classical melodies he passionately crafted throughout his illustrious career.
Ombathuveli S. Thiagarajan, widely recognized in the Carnatic music sphere as “O S Thiagarajan,” has passed away, leaving a resonant legacy intricately intertwined with the timeless melodies of classical music. His untimely demise sent shockwaves through the Carnatic music fraternity in Chennai, coinciding with the city’s annual Margazhi music festival, which commences in mid-December. Thiagarajan, who was actively performing till recently, was poised to receive the Neelakanda Sivan Nadasudhakara Award from the Neelakanda Sivan Cultural Academy in Chennai, had also been scheduled to perform on their Margazhi festival’s final day tomorrow.
Originating from Delhi, Thiagarajan later found his spiritual and musical home in Chennai. His journey from a classical music aficionado to a seasoned professional unfolded seamlessly under the nurturing guidance of Sangeetha Kalanidhi T. M. Thiagarajan and the mentorship of Padmabhushan Lalgudi Jayaraman.
As an ‘A-Top’ graded artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan, Thiagarajan’s musical odyssey graced numerous concerts, firmly establishing him as a luminary of his generation. His artistry, deeply rooted in tradition, showcased classicism, using his musical canvas to paint vibrant hues that illuminated the intricate nuances of raga, kriti, and swara in his performances.
Contributions from Tiger Varadachariar and Tanjore Ponniah Pillai enriched Thiagarajan’s early training, fostering nuanced performances that earned acclaim. Apart from Sangeet Natak Academi Puraskar in 2012, titles such as Sangeetha Kala Sagara (Hyderabad), Nada Gana Kala Praveena (Madurai), and Nadhana Booshanam (New Delhi) adorned his illustrious career.
O S Thiagarajan’s melodic prowess transcended borders, evident in captivating tours to Japan and Russia, where he left an indelible mark on audiences with profound musical expressions. A regular feature in concerts organized by leading sabhas in Chennai and across India, he collaborated with renowned accompanists like Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, M.S. Gopalakrishnan, and Palghat Mani Iyer.
O S Thiagarjan’s pure music
“Thiagarajan’s concerts were always a success—a rare feat in Carnatic music,” says renowned Ghatam artist Tripunithura N Radhakrishnan, who accompanied him in many concerts for over four decades. “His style epitomizes purity, shruti shudham, commanding a precise mastery of thalam. He enjoyed deeply when we delved into kanakkus.” Radhakrishnan attests to O S Thiagarajan’s inclusion of rare compositions of Saint Thiagaraja in his concerts, eschewing notes, effortlessly recalling all sahityas by heart during performances. Thiagarajan also earned acclaim for his stage etiquette and affable interactions with fellow artists.
Reflecting on Thiagarajan’s legacy, Carnatic musician and Secretary of Neelakanda Sivan Cultural Academy, C S Sajeev noted, “Steadfast adherence to tradition, impeccable patanthara, and admirable presentations are the hallmarks of O S Thiagarajan’s (OST) style.”
Thiagarajan’s complete mastery of the medium, combined with his unhurried and unpretentious presentation, effortlessly guided his audience along a river of contentment. When contemplating his musical legacy, one is reminded of the phrase “simple and grand.
Today, as we bid farewell to him, we pay tribute to a maestro whose melodies will resonate through the halls of classical music, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those fortunate enough to have been serenaded by his art.