Tanjore Viswanathan, flutist and teacher who was one of the most influential south Indian musicians in the United States, died Sept. 10 in Hartford, Conn.. of a heart attack. He was 75 and lived in Middletown, Conn.
He taught more than 25 years at Wesleyan U. and was a master of the Carnatic style, one of the oldest musical traditions in India.
Born in Madras to a family of musicians and dancers, he first came to the United States in 1958 on a Fulbright scholarship to study ethnomusicology at UCLA, then directed the music department at the U. of Madras 1961-1966. He later taught at UCLA, the California Institute of the Arts and, since earning his Ph.D. there in 1975, at Wesleyan, where he developed a descriptive teaching style to overcome language barriers, founded Wesleyan’s Navarati Festival and was the first Indian musician to be named a national heritage fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Viswanathan toured widely, often with his brother, Tanjore Rangathan, who died in 1987, and recorded albums and film music.
He is survived by his wife, Josepha Cormack Viswanathan; a daughter and two sons.