Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan(March 2, 1935 – September 8, 2008) was an Indian classical music violinist.
He was born to Sri Ramaswamy Sastri and Smt. Meenakshi at Kunnakudi, a temple town of Lord Murugan in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
His father was a scholar in Sanskrit and Tamil, and a composer and exponent of Carnatic Music and Kathakalakshepam. Vaidyanathan started learning South Indian Classical Music from his father at a very young age.
Vibhuti or sacred Ash and a large Vermilion dot smeared prominently on his forehead were his trademark symbols.
The violin was his forte. Known for the dexterity and subtlety in handling the violin, he catered not only to the music scholar but also to the layman. His play reflected his own different moods and the demands of his audience with whom he established and enjoyed a good rapport. He dwelled with ease and competence in the high as well as the low octaves.
At the age of 12, he accompanied great stalwarts like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Maharajapuram Santhanam in concerts. He also performed with Nadaswaram vidwans like T.N.Rajarathinam Pillai and Thiruvenkadu Subramania Pillai.
He stopped accompanying vocal artistes in 1976 to concentrate more on solo concerts. He was famous for his fingering techniques on the violin. His interest in new attempts and innovations led him to work with veteran thavil vidwan Valayapatti Subramanian. They performed over 3,000 shows together. Vaidyanathan had deep faith in the therapeutic merits of music.
He also made a significant contribution to Tamil devotional music. A. P. Nagarajan giving him his first break in the movie Vaa Raja Vaa. He had several hits such as Agathiyar and Raja Raja Chozhan, for which he scored music.
Vaidyanathan made a special appearance in the 2005 Tamil movie Anniyan directed by Shankar, on the Tyagaraja Aradhana festival sequence for the song Iyengaaru Veetu which is a recreation of the real festival. He had guest appearances in many other films.
He tried his hand at film production with a feature film in Tamil Thodi Ragam, with T. N. Seshagopalan in the lead, which failed to enthuse the audience.
He was awarded the prestigious "Padma Shri" title by the Indian government, Kalaimamani award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1993, and the Karnataka Isaignani award. He has also won Best Music Director awards for his background scores for films. He received the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani award given by "The Indian Fine Arts Society" in 1996.
Vaidyanathan, had a long association with the All India Radio. An able administrator, Vaidyanathan served as Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nadaga Mandram. As the Secretary of Thyagabrahma Sabha, Thiruvaiyaru in Thanjavur district, he conducted the Tyagaraja Aradhana for several years. He also served as president of the Raga Research Centre.