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 Mahadevi 12th century Kannada    
Annamacharya 1408 – 1503 Telugu, Sanskrit 50,000  
Arunachala Kavi 1711 – 1788 Tamil    
Arunagirinathar 15th century Tamil   Composed Tiruppugazh
Basavanna 12th century Kannada   Composed Vachanagalu
Jayadeva 12th century Sanskrit 50 Composed Geetha Govindam
Bhadraachala Raama daasu 1620 – 1688 Telugu 500  
Kshetragna 1600 – 1680 Telugu 100  
Marimutthu Pillai 1717 – 1787 Tamil    
Muthu Thandavar 1525 – 1625 Tamil    
Narayana Teertha 1650 – 1745 Telugu, Sanskrit 200 Composed Krishna leelaa Tarangini
Paidala Gurumurti Sastri 17th century Telugu    
Papanasa Mudaliar 1650 – 1725 Tamil    
Purandara Daasaru 1491 – 1564 Kannada, Sanskrit 50,000  
Sarangapani 17th century Telugu    
Sripadaraya 1404 – 1502 Kannada    

 

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 Iyer 1790 – 1854 Telugu    
Iraiyamman Tampi 1782 – 1856 Malayalam, Sanskrit    
Kavi Kunjara Bharati 1810 – 1896 Tamil    
Muthuswami Dikshitar 1775 – 1835 Sanskrit, Mani Pravaalam 400  
Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi 18th century Sanskrit, Tamil 200  
Pacchimiriam Adiyappa 18th century Telugu    
Thanjavur Quartet 18th century Sanskrit, Tamil    
Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai 1798 – 1852 Tamil    
Thyagaraja Swami 1767 – 1847 Telugu, Sanskrit 50,000  
Sadasiva Brahmendra 18th century Sanskrit    
Syama Sastri 1762 – 1827 Telugu 400  

 

Post-Trinity Composers – 19th Century

Composer

Years

Languages

Approx. Number of Compositions

Other Info

Subramaniya Bharathiyar 1882 – 1921 Tamil,Sanskrit    
Annamalai Reddiyar 1865 – 1891      
Anai Ayya brothers 19th Century Telugu 20  
Dharmapuri Subbarayar 19th century Telugu 50 Composed many Jaavalis
Ennappadam Venkatarama Bhagavatar 1880 – 1961      
Gopalakrishna Bharathi 1811 – 1896 Tamil 50  
Koteeswara Iyer 1870 – 1940 Tamil, Sanskrit 200 Composed in all 72 Melakarta raagas
Kurainadu Natesa Pillai 1830 – 1925      
Krishnarajendra Wodeyar III 1799 – 1868 Sanskrit, Kannada    
Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer 1844 – 1893 Sanskrit 100 Composed 72-Melakarta raaga maalika
Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbayyar 19th century Telugu 50 Desciple of Thyagaraja
Mayuram Viswanatha Sastri 1893 – 1958 Telugu, Sanskrit 50  
Muthiah Bhagavatar 1877 – 1945 Telugu, Sanskrit 200  
Mysore Sadasiva Rao b. 1790 Telugu, Sanskrit 100  
Mysore Vasudevacharya 1865 – 1961 Telugu, Sanskrit 250  
Neelakanta Sivan 1839 – 1900 Tamil 100  
Pallavi Seshayyar 1842 – 1905 Telugu    
Papanasam Sivan 1890 – 1973 Tamil, Mani Pravaalam 300  
Patnam Subramania Iyer 1845 – 1902 Telugu 100  
Pattabhiramayya 19th century      
Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar 1860 – 1919′ Telugu 100  
Subbarama Dikshitar 1839 – 1906 Telugu 50  
Subbaraya Sastri 1803 – 1862 Telugu 100 Son of Syama Sastri
Swati Tirunal 1813 – 1847 Sanskrit, Hindi, Malayalam, Mani Pravaalam 200  
Tiruvottriyur Tyagayyar 1845 – 1917 Tamil 50  
Veena Kuppayyar 1798 – 1860 Telugu 100 Desciple of Thyagaraja

 

Post-Trinity Composers – 20th Century

Composer

Years

Languages

Approx. Number of Compositions

Other Info

Dandapani Desikar 1908 – 1972   55  
GN Balasubramaniam 1910 – 1965 Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil 90  
K. R. Kedaranathan 1925 – 2007      
Lalgudi Jayaraman b. 1930   30  
Maharajapuram Santhanam        
M. Balamuralikrishna b. 1930 Telugu, Sanskrit 200 Composed in all 72 Melakarta raagas
M. D. Ramanathan 1923 – 1984 Sanskrit 300  
Mysore V. Ramarathnam 1917 – 2008      
L. Subramaniam b. 1947      
N. Ramani b. 1934   10  
N. Ravikiran b. 1967 Sanskrit, Tamil 50  
Ganam (Ganasaraswathy) Tamil, Sanskrit, Mani Pravaalam 600 http://www.ganam.org
Nallan Chakravartula Krishnamaachaaryulu 1925 – 2006 Sanskrit 30  
Periyasaamy Thooran 1908 – 1987 Tamil 305  
S. Ramanathan 1917 – 1988 Tamil 50  

 

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)

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