Composers

Although there are a great many well known composers of Carnatic music, it is customary to think of them as being pre and post “Trinity” which is the term by which Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri have collectively come to be known.

Purandara Dasa (1491–1564) is known as the father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic music because of his pioneering contributions. Purandara Dasa is known for formulating the basic lessons of Carnatic music. He structured graded exercises known as Swaravalis and Alankaras and introduced the Raga Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learned by beginners. He also composed many simple Gitams (songs) till which are taught to students to the present day.

The contemporaries Tyagaraja (1759? – 1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar, (1776–1827) and Syama Sastri, (1762–1827) are regarded as the Trinity of Carnatic music because of the quality of their compositions and the influence they had on the development and performance of Carnatic music. Being contemporaries, they have met and have even collaborated. The influence of royal patronage, history and culture led to Telugu and Sanskrit being the main languages for their compositions. Through the influence of the powerful and evocative poetry in their music, Carnatic Music came to be primarily a vocal music form and instrumentalists play the same compositions that are sung by vocalists. There is not a separate tradition of composing instrumental music.

Composers of Carnatic music were usually scholars proficient in one or more of the languages Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. They usually included a signature, called a mudra, in their compositions. For example, all songs by Tyagaraja (who composed in Telugu) have the word Tyagaraja in them, all songs by Muthuswami Dikshitar (who composed in Sanskrit) have the words Guruguha in them, songs by Syama Sastri (who composed in Telugu) have the words Syama Krishna in them, while Purandaradasa, who composed in Kannada, used the signature Purandara Vittala. Gopalakrishna Bharathi used the signature Gopalakrishnan and composed in Tamil. Papanasam Sivan, also composed in Tamil as well as Sanskrit, and used the signature Ramadasan.

Due to the absence of complete historical records and manuscripts, there is some measure of controversy surrounding the dates and numbers of compositions attributed to the Trinity and pre-trinity era composers. There is also controversy and disagreement about the authenticity of certain compositions attributed to these composers. The dates and the numbers of compositions in the table below cannot be easily verified.

 

Pre-Trinity Composers (Before 18th Century)

Composer

Years

Languages

Approx. Number of Compositions

Other Info

Akka Mahadevi12th centuryKannada  
Annamacharya1408 – 1503Telugu, Sanskrit50,000 
Arunachala Kavi1711 – 1788Tamil  
Arunagirinathar15th centuryTamil Composed Tiruppugazh
Basavanna12th centuryKannada Composed Vachanagalu
Jayadeva12th centurySanskrit50Composed Geetha Govindam
Bhadraachala Raama daasu1620 – 1688Telugu500 
Kshetragna1600 – 1680Telugu100 
Marimutthu Pillai1717 – 1787Tamil  
Muthu Thandavar1525 – 1625Tamil  
Narayana Teertha1650 – 1745Telugu, Sanskrit200Composed Krishna leelaa Tarangini
Paidala Gurumurti Sastri17th centuryTelugu  
Papanasa Mudaliar1650 – 1725Tamil  
Purandara Daasaru1491 – 1564Kannada, Sanskrit50,000 
Sarangapani17th centuryTelugu  
Sripadaraya1404 – 1502Kannada  

 

Trinity-Age Composers (18th Century)

These composers lived during the time of the Trinity and there are recorded instances of their interaction with the Trinity.

Composer

Years

Languages

Approx. Number of Compositions

Other Info

Ghanam Krishna Iyer1790 – 1854Telugu  
Iraiyamman Tampi1782 – 1856Malayalam, Sanskrit  
Kavi Kunjara Bharati1810 – 1896Tamil  
Muthuswami Dikshitar1775 – 1835Sanskrit, Mani Pravaalam400 
Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi18th centurySanskrit, Tamil200 
Pacchimiriam Adiyappa18th centuryTelugu  
Thanjavur Quartet18th centurySanskrit, Tamil  
Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai1798 – 1852Tamil  
Thyagaraja Swami1767 – 1847Telugu, Sanskrit50,000 
Sadasiva Brahmendra18th centurySanskrit  
Syama Sastri1762 – 1827Telugu400 

 

Post-Trinity Composers – 19th Century

Composer

Years

Languages

Approx. Number of Compositions

Other Info

Subramaniya Bharathiyar1882 – 1921Tamil,Sanskrit  
Annamalai Reddiyar1865 – 1891   
Anai Ayya brothers19th CenturyTelugu20 
Dharmapuri Subbarayar19th centuryTelugu50Composed many Jaavalis
Ennappadam Venkatarama Bhagavatar1880 – 1961   
Gopalakrishna Bharathi1811 – 1896Tamil50 
Koteeswara Iyer1870 – 1940Tamil, Sanskrit200Composed in all 72 Melakarta raagas
Kurainadu Natesa Pillai1830 – 1925   
Krishnarajendra Wodeyar III1799 – 1868Sanskrit, Kannada  
Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer1844 – 1893Sanskrit100Composed 72-Melakarta raaga maalika
Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbayyar19th centuryTelugu50Desciple of Thyagaraja
Mayuram Viswanatha Sastri1893 – 1958Telugu, Sanskrit50 
Muthiah Bhagavatar1877 – 1945Telugu, Sanskrit200 
Mysore Sadasiva Raob. 1790Telugu, Sanskrit100 
Mysore Vasudevacharya1865 – 1961Telugu, Sanskrit250 
Neelakanta Sivan1839 – 1900Tamil100 
Pallavi Seshayyar1842 – 1905Telugu  
Papanasam Sivan1890 – 1973Tamil, Mani Pravaalam300 
Patnam Subramania Iyer1845 – 1902Telugu100 
Pattabhiramayya19th century   
Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar1860 – 1919′Telugu100 
Subbarama Dikshitar1839 – 1906Telugu50 
Subbaraya Sastri1803 – 1862Telugu100Son of Syama Sastri
Swati Tirunal1813 – 1847Sanskrit, Hindi, Malayalam, Mani Pravaalam200 
Tiruvottriyur Tyagayyar1845 – 1917Tamil50 
Veena Kuppayyar1798 – 1860Telugu100Desciple of Thyagaraja

 

Post-Trinity Composers – 20th Century

Composer

Years

Languages

Approx. Number of Compositions

Other Info

Dandapani Desikar1908 – 1972 55 
GN Balasubramaniam1910 – 1965Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil90 
K. R. Kedaranathan1925 – 2007   
Lalgudi Jayaramanb. 1930 30 
Maharajapuram Santhanam    
M. Balamuralikrishnab. 1930Telugu, Sanskrit200Composed in all 72 Melakarta raagas
M. D. Ramanathan1923 – 1984Sanskrit300 
Mysore V. Ramarathnam1917 – 2008   
L. Subramaniamb. 1947   
N. Ramanib. 1934 10 
N. Ravikiranb. 1967Sanskrit, Tamil50 
Ganam (Ganasaraswathy)Tamil, Sanskrit, Mani Pravaalam600http://www.ganam.org
Nallan Chakravartula Krishnamaachaaryulu1925 – 2006Sanskrit30 
Periyasaamy Thooran1908 – 1987Tamil305 
S. Ramanathan1917 – 1988Tamil50 

 

Other Composers

  • Rallapalli Anantha Krishna Sharma (1893 – 1979) [1]
  • K.M. Soundaryavalli (July 22, 1914 – October 8, 1994)
  • Mangalam Ganapathy
  • N. S. Ramachandran
  • Tanjavur Sankara Iyer
  • K. R. Kumaraswamy Iyer
  • Tanjavur S.Kalyanaraman
  • Tirupati Narayanaswami Naidu
  • Kadaloor M. Subramaniam
  • Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati
  • Ragasri Kumaramangalam Srinivasaraghavan

 

Other Composers in the Mysore Kingdom

  • Vaikunta Dasaru (1680)
  • Veena Venkata Subbiah (1750)
  • Shunti Venkataramaniah (1780)
  • Aliya Lingaraja Urs (1823 – 1874)
  • Chinniah (1902)
  • Krishnappa
  • Veena Chikka Lakshminaranappa
  • Veene Krishnappa
  • Piteelu Seenappa
  • Bhairavi Lakshminaranappa (1878 – 1934)
  • Pedda Lakshminaranappa
  • Devalapurada Nanjunda
  • Veena Shamanna (1832 – 1908)
  • Veena Padmanabiah (1842 – 1900)
  • Veene Sheshanna (1852 – 1926)
  • Mysore Karigiri Rao (1853 – 1927)
  • Veena Subbanna (1861 – 1939)
  • Bidaram Krishnappa (1866 – 1931)
  • Tiruppunandal Pattabhiramiah (1863)
  • Sosale Ayya Shastry (1854 – 1934)
  • Rallapalli Anantha Krishna Sharma (1893 – 1979)
  • Jayarayacharya (1846–1906)
  • Giribhattara Tammayya (1865 – 1920)
  • Nanjangud Subba Shastry (1834 – 1906)
  • Chandrashekara Shastry
  • Veena Subramanya Iyer (1864 – 1919)
  • Veena Shivaramiah (1886 – 1946)
  • Veena Venkatagiriappa (1887 – 1952)
  • Belakawadi Srinivasa Iyengar (1888 – 1952)
  • Chikka Ramarao (1891 – 1945)
  • Mysore T. Chowdiah (1894 – 1967)
  • Jayachamaraja Wodeyar (1919 – 1974)
  • Dr. B. Devendrappa (1899 – 1986)
  • Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar (1903 – 1959)
  • Tiruvayyar Subramanya Iyer
  • Anavatti Rama Rao (1860)
  • Tiger Varadachariar (1876 – 1950)
  • Chennakeshaviah (1895 – 1986)
  • Titte Krishna Iyengar (1902 – 1997)
  • S.N. Mariappa (1914 – 1986)
  • Chintalapalli Ramachandra Rao (1916 – 1985)
  • R.N.Doreswamy (1916 – 2002)
  • H.M. Vaidyalinga Bhagavatar (1924 – 1999)
  • Bellary M Seshagiri Achar (1935 – 1985)

 

Other Composers – The Bhakti Saints

In addition to the above composers, various Bhakti saints of medieval India also composed devotional hymns, verses and songs. These compositions, though strictly not of Carnatic or classical character, have contributed to the gradual evolution of the Carnatic musical tradition over the centuries. the Bhakti movement continued to be a strong influence in Carnatic music through the ages and to this day; both in compositions and in performance.

  • Karaikkal Ammeiyar (5th century)
  • Thirunavukkarasar (7th century)
  • Thirugnana Sambanthar (7th century)
  • Sundaramurti (7th century)
  • Andal (9th century)
  • Manikkavasagar (10th century)
  • Allama Prabhu (12th century)
  • Muthu Thandavar (14th century)
  • Vyasatirtha (1460 &nadsh; 1539)
  • Vadirajatirtha (1480 – 1600)
  • Narayana Teertha (1580 – 1660)
  • Kanakadasa (1509 – 1609)
  • Raghavendra Swami (1595 – 1671)
  • Mahipathidasa (1611 – 1681)
  • Vijaya Dasa (1682 – 1755)
  • Prasanna Venkatadasa (1680 – 1752)
  • Gopaladasa (1722 – 1762)
  • Jagannathadasa (1727 – 1809)
  • Praneshadasa (1736 – 1822)
  • Venugopaladasa (1728 – 1751)
  • Mohanadasa (1728 – 1751)
  • Helevanakatte Giriamma (18th century)
  • Harapanhalli Bhimavva (1822 – 1903)
  • Guru Jagananatha Dasa (1837 – 1918)

Much of this content is provided or derived from Wikipedia. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License .