Steeped in tradition

Born in a lineage steeped in Carnatic music, Koviladi Madhwa Prasad was born on 1 June 1957 at Srirangam to Rangarajan and Bharathy. Madhwa Prasad’s father, Koviladi Rangarajan was a well-known musician, a Harikatha exponent, and a treasure-house of  Purandaradasa compositions. He has also composed music for dance dramas.
The fourth of five children, Madhwa Prasad and his siblings were trained in vocal music by their father from an early age.

When he was nine-years-old, Madhwa Prasad learned to play the mridangam from Kanadukathan Malaiyappayar Iyer, a disciple of Palani Subramania Pillai. Learning vocal music parallelly from his father, Madhwa Prasad accompanied him on the mridangam for several concerts. Later, he also took advanced lessons under maestro Umayalpuram Sivaraman. Madhwa Prasad also honed his vocal skills from other senior gurus such as Embar Raghaven Simhan, S. Ramanathan, Tanjavur Sankara Iyer, J. Venkataraman, Ambujam Vedantham and S.V. Parthasarathy.

Excelling equally in academics, Madhwa Prasad pursued his bachelor’s in Physics and graduated from the National College, Tiruchirapalli. He also wrote the banking service exams, joined the State Bank of India, and worked there till he retired. Working at the bank was never a deterrent to Madhwa Prasad as he continued performing at various prestigious venues.

Madhwa Prasad has also tuned songs of legendary composers like Subramania Bharati, Sudhananda Bharati, Bharatidasan, Arunagirinathar, Venkataramana Bhagavatar, Alluri Venkatadhri Swamigal, amongst several others. His notable works include a two-volume book titled Krishna nadham, tuning the songs for an album titled Bharatiyam (music written by Dr Ramakrisha Easwaran), and audio albums on Divya desakeertanas and Purananooru.

An A-Top artist from All India Radio, Madhwa Prasad, following his father’s legacy, tuned several Purandaradasa kritis and frequently conducted workshops on Dasar kritis and padas. As a frequent performer, Madhwa Prasad, at a concert for AIR, rendered raga Hemavati. Upon hearing it, the famous nagaswara vidwan Sheikh Chinna Moulana contacted him and requested him to teach him the same rendition of Hemavati. Madhwa Prasad taught Moulana Sivanukku Iniya (Hemavati), Parakela and Samikku Sari Evvare in Kedaragaula. Well-known nagaswara vidwans, Sheikh Mehboob Subani and Kalishab also learnt a few compositions from Madhwa Prasad.

Amidst his busy schedule, Madhwa Prasad enjoyed teaching youngsters the art form. He encouraged his students to sing without inhibition. Some of his sishyas for mridangam are Prasanna Gopalakrishnan, Rama Iva, Sriram, Koppu Nagaraj, Ramesh, Ramji and Rangesh. Students who learnt vocal under him are Swathi and Swati Sudarshan. This writer also cherishes her learning from Madhwa Prasad the Dasar padams he taught with the right precision, grammar and diction. 

A sign board installed by his father Koviladi Rangarajan, in front of their home in Srirangam reads – “In this house, Sangeetha Sampradaya bhajans and songs should always be rendered.” As a true son, Madhwa Prasad kept that house vibrating with Carnatic music mridangam until he breathed his last after a brief illness on 4 November, 2022. He was 64.

Madhwa Prasad is survived by his wife, Rajalakshmi, a vainika and his two sons, Srinath and Sripadh. Elder son Srinath learnt vocal music and plays the mridangam and the younger son Sripadh plays the violin and the mridangam.


(A vocalist and a student of Madhwa Prasad)

 Awards and accolades

t Special Award for mridangam and vocal by Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Manram

t Best Mridangist Award from The Music Academy, Madras in the year 2000 and 2002

t Purandara Shree  Award from Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam

t Karnataka Sangeetha Kalanidhi Award from Akila Karnataka Haridasa Tathwagnana Prathistapana, Karnataka

t Sangeetha Ratna Choodamani Award from Anugraha Sangeetha Vidyalaya, Tumkur, Karnataka

t Sree Purandara Anugraham Award from Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam

t Acharya Ratna 2022, a titile pre­sented by T.V. Gopalakrishnan during his Swarna Navathi function