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Personalities - Carnatic Music Composers

Carnatic music composers

* 12 Mar 2022
Papanasam Sivan, a great composer has enriched the world of classical music with gems in Tamil such as ‘Naan Oru Vilaiyattu Bommaiya,’ (Navarasa Kanada); ‘Paratpara Parameswara’ (Vachaspati); ‘Kaana Kann Kodi Vendum’ (Khambodi); ‘Devi Neeye Thunai’ (Kiravani); ‘Ka Vaa Vaa’ (Varali) and ‘Kapaali’ (Mohanam).
The legendary vocalist Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer, whose concerts Sivan would listen to the most, also inspired him to compose songs. Vaidyanatha Iyer was known for his Thodi renditions, and Sivan composed more than 20 kritis in the raga.
When Sivan settled in Madras in 1929, Rukmini Devi was among the first to recognise his genius. He was associated with Kalakshetra from 1934 to 1939 and Rukmini Devi was one of his students. Perhaps this tenure at Kalakshetra inspired Sivan to compose several pada varnams that are now performed in Bharatanatyam. Many leading musicians such as S. Rajam learnt music from Sivan.
One of Sivan’s first songs on Lord Kapaleeswarar ‘Kaana Kankodi’ in Kambodi, was composed during one of his bhajan processions through Mylapore’s temple streets during the Tamil month of Margazhi. His composition, ‘Srirama nama bhajanaisei maname’ was composed to show his devotion to Lord Rama.
Source:  Remembering Papanasam Sivan, the genius composer by Papanasam Ashok Ramani (grandson of Papanasam Sivan), The Hindu, Sep 24, 2020

* 28 Feb 2022
Ambujam Krishna is one of the important and well known composers of the 20th century and has left behind more than six hundred compositions for Carnatic music. Married to T.S.Krishna of the TVS family, Ambujam Krishna got her first song Unnai allaal in 1951 on Goddess Meenakshi,  soon after a visit to Tyagaraja’s Samadhi in Thiruvaiyaaru. While her songs are mainly in Tamil, she has also composed a good number in languages namely, Sanskrit, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Manipravalam. They have been set to music by stalwarts and have been published in six volumes called Gitamala. Most of her songs are in the kriti format. She has also composed in genres like kirtanams, padams, kummi, oonjal, lullaby and kilikanni.  She has composed two operas called Radha Madhavam, and Krishna Lila Madhuryam.

*11 Oct 2021
Sri Narayana Teertha (Govinda Sastrulu) was born at Villathur, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh.
Narayana Theerthar took up sanyasam after marraige.  During his travel to various temple sthalams, he reached Govindapuram to meet Bodendra Swamigal, but when he arrived the Swamigal had already attained mukthi. He was suffering from severe stomach ache but still continued his visit to temples.  At Nadukkavery, Lord Krishna appeared in his dream and asked him to follow the animal that he sees on waking and he will then be rid of his stomach ache.  He woke up to see a white pig (varaha in sanskrit) and began following the animal.
At the village Bhoopathirajapuram, the pig vanished into a temple and he heard the divine voice stating that he will be free of his ache. The village henceforth came to be known as "Varagur".
He composed the Krishna Leela Tarangini consisting of twelve cantos covering the life of Sri Krishna from his birth to marriage with Rukmini.
He wrote 15 books and composed two other operas, Parijatha Apaharanam and Haribhakthi Sundarnavam. Some of them are available in Benares Hindu University and at the Saraswathi Mahal in Tanjore.
Subhodinee - treatise (in Sanskrit) on Brahma Sutra Sankara BhAshyam;
VivaraNa Deepika (in Telugu), a treatise on PancheekaraNa vartika of SureswarAchArya;
ParijAtApaharaNam, the well known Yakshaganam in Telugu
Hari Bhakti SudhArNavam
ChaAndilya Bhakti Sutra vyAkyAnam
Sri Narayana Tirtha attained Mukti in the year 1745.
Sources:  /

* 11 Oct 2021
Sarangadeva - Musicologist : (13th century)
Authored 'Sangita Ratnakara' the greatest work after Bharata's 'Natya Sastra'. Hailed as "Nissanka", as he was supreme in knowledge of music. 'Sangita' as referring to music alone came to be used first by him. A magnificient musicologist

Jayadeva - Composer (1101-1173)
Author of the Song Celestial 'Gita Govindam' the first known composition in India specifying raga & tala. Called 'The Indian Song of Songs', it has inspired composers, dance choreographers & poets. The lady gracious behind Jayadeva's success was the eminent Padmavati, his spouse, who danced to his singing

Purandaradasa - Father of Carnatic Music System (1484-1564)
A pioneer in bhakthi cult & a brilliant, popular composer. His compositions inspired Tyagaraja & others

Kshetrajna - Poet of Divine Love (1610-1685)
His music & lyric share the honours equally & it is in padams, Kshetrjna excelled. There is enchanting beauty & exquisite finesse in his songs of dignified sringara. A great composer who excelled in bringing out diverse emotions

Bhadrachala ramadasa - Composer (1620-1680)
Religious bent of mind from boyhood. Was Tahsildar at Bhadrachalam & he rebuilt the temple of Rama. Was incarcerated at Golkonda. Divine will got his release. Exquisite songs of Ramadasa are popular. He was the 'Mulapurusha' of harikatha sampradaya

Tyagaraja - Fragrant gold of Carnatic Music (1767-1847)
The most popular of Carnatic Music Trinity. 'In devotion & religious fervour, he is like Purandara & Ramadasa', in lyrical moods he takes a leaf off Kshetrajna; in the language of Gods, he seems to beckon his contemporary Dikshitar & Sastri; in dramatic composition, is like Narayana Tirtha & Merattur Venkutaramana Bhagavathar. His adherence to sampradaya is supreme

Muthuswami Dikshitar - Architect of Raga forms (1776-1835)
The compositions of Dikshitar are rich in raga bhava full of gamakas & graces, beauty, majesty, mastery & wisdom. A magnificient composer, vocalist & veena player, he was all serenity & poise. One of the Carnatic Music Trinity

Syama Sastri - Tala Prastara (1762-1827)
One of the Carnatic Music Trinity, his songs are noted for tala intricacies. 'The melodic form of his compositions are strikingly original, unconventional & free.' Devi Kamakshi of Tanjore was his patron deity

Swathi Tirunal - Royal Composer (1813-1846)
Proficient in many languages with great talent in music, he was the Maharaja of Tiruvancore, a great patron of arts. Lord Padmanabha of Travancore was his Ishta Devata

Thiru Gnanasambandar - Divine Composer (6th century)
While yet a baby was suckled by Goddess. One of the four great Saivaite Apostles. His divine musical hymns in Tamil are delightful & the lyric is magnificient.

Thiru Navukkarasar (Appar) - Divine Composer (6th century)
One of the prime apostles of Lord Shiva. A life of fragrant devotion & service to humanity.

Sri Periyalwar (C.700-750)
Vishnuchitta, as Periyalwar was called before he was included in the apostolic order, brought up Sri Andal full of love & affection but had to part with her when the Lord took her as spouse.

Andal (716-732)
Divine origin, glamorous life, spiritual union mark the verdant life of Sri Andal who had left to posterity the enchanting songs called "Thiruppavai" & "Nachiar Thirumozhi".

Thirumangai Azhwar (716-821/750-800)
'The effulgent lamp that shuts out darkness in mind', Thirumangai Azhwar fulfills all the demands of modern fiction. He had covered the largest number of temples among Vaishnavaite apostles with pilgrimage & songs.

Sundaramurthy Nayanar - Divine Composer (8th century)
A romantic apostle of Lord Shiva, his musical hyms form part of Thevaram along with those of Gnanasambandar & Navukkarasar.

One of the main four Nayanars of Shiva. He exhorts all to 'Sing the ecstatic joy of the Lord soaked in graceful raga; He shall bestow his grace in return.'

Tallapaka Annamacharya - Architect of Devotional ecstacy (1408-1503)
Annamacharya family was a fountain of divine ecstacy which has dedicated a whole range of poems of madhura bhakthi. 12,000 songs are engraved on copper plates to ensure against ravages & insanity of nature & man. Lord Venkateswara of the Seven Hills was his patron deity.

Arunagirinathar - Eminent Divine Poet (c.1450A.D.)
The finest flower among Tamil composers, devoted & dedicated. His composition 'Thiruppugazh' in praise of the Lord 'is a vast ocean of intricate time measures'. An unrivalled Master of Verse.

Muthu Thandavar - Fragrant Bhava exponent (16th century)
Depth of theme, felicity of presentation, simplicity of lyric underline his romantic poems. Lord Nataraja was his destiny & patron. His padams, the delight of dancers, are a mine of bhava, bhakthi & rasa.

Uthukkadu Venkatasubba Ayyar - Composer & Divine (1700-1765)
His love of Lord Krishna was unparalleled & his bhakthi for Muruga was non pareil. His songs are graceful & soulful.

Arunachala Kavirayar - Eminent Composer (6th century)
'Rama Nataka Kirtanas', a pioneering musical opera, enjoys simplicity of chaste language, easy-pace, flowing presentation, mastery & versatality. It was released at the temple of Sri Ranganatha, Srirangam in 1771 A.D. His songs were set to tune by Sattanadapuram Venkatarama Ayyar & Kodandarama Ayyar.

Goplalakrishna Bharati - Father of Tamil Music Renaissance (1811-1881)
Author of the pioneering socio-spiritual musical opera 'Nandanar', Bharati led a unique life of excellence & mastery of spirit over matter. Has covered the whole gamut of musical compositions. Lord Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer, was his Ishta Devata. He was an eminent musical discourser too. 

Source: Musings on Music by S.Rajam
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