Narayanrao Ganesh Vyas
Narayanrao Ganesh Vyas
Pandit Narayanrao Ganesh Vyas, the younger brother of Shri Shankarrao Vyas (1898-1956), was born in Kolhapur on April 4, 1902. In 1911, at the age of nine, he joined the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya at Mumbai where his elder brother had already joined the `Gurukul` system of music education initiated by Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Lahore in 1901. Narayanrao was trained by Pandit Paluskar for ten years, after which both brothers came to Ahmedabad in 1922, where they began to teach at the Gujrat Sangeet Mahavidyalaya they founded.
In 1927, Narayanrao Vyas, came to Mumbai mainly for his concert career. He also taught music when he was not performing. Shankarrao Vyas shifted to Mumbai in 1933, choosing to enter the film industry as a music director. Narayanrao started performing in music festivals and from 1929 to 1955, he cut over 150 records in the 78-rpm format for the Gramophone Company (HMV) in Mumbai. The recorded songs are classical khayals, thumris and semi-classical bhajans. He also sang ragas using Marathi bandishes. The popularity of his records earned him HMV`s best seller gold medal. Narayanrao used to sing on Radio too. He toured and traveled extensively and sang in prestigious music conferences and concerts throughout North India. He was also proficient in playing the Harmonium, Tabla, Sitar and Jaltarang. To fulfil the desire of their Guru to spread and popularise Indian classical music, the Vyas brothers decided to start a music academy in Bombay. Thus the Vyas Sangeet Vidyalaya was set up in June 1937, to impart lessons to students both in vocal and instrumental music. The school continues to function to this day.
Narayanrao Vyas was one of the most popular and sought-after vocalists of his generation. He was honoured with several awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1976 and the Tansen Award of the Madhya Pradesh Government in 1977. Among his disciples were his own son, Vidyadhar Vyas, his guru’s son, Dattatreya Vishnu Paluskar, the legendary Carnatic vocalist, M S Subbalakshmi and several others..
For Narayanrao Vyas, music was not only a means of livelihood but also a way to salvation. He was a believer in the purity of music and remained a traditional singer throughout his life. He remained active even in his old age and died on April 1, 1984.