Saturday, 11 February 2017

Historic Music Composers

JAYADEVA (1101-1173)


Jayadeva was perhaps the first composer to specifically mention the raga and tala of each of his poems.
His Ashtapadhis have been very famous among the carnatic artists, though, it is not very certain whether the specific ragas are sung the same way now as was done in Jayadeva's time.

Jayadeva is most well knows for his Sanskrit magnam opus Githa Govinda. He is also very prominent among the Vaishnavaite poets.

Musical Background: Jayadeva, the author of Githa Govinda, is an illustrious Sanskrit composer. He became an erudite scholar early in his life.

Region: He was born at Kindubilva (also called Kenduli) in Orissa. The village Kenduli is on the northern banks of the river Ajaya, in the delta of Veerabhoomi. He refers to his birthplace in the 7th Ashtapadi: "Kindubilva Samudra Sambhava". He was an Oriya Brahmin, born to Bhojadeva and Ramadevi.

Contribution: Gita Govinda, a widely known, highly popular opera of Jayadeva is the staple of devotional singers. They constitute the Songs Celestial called Ashtapadi as each has eight steps. The 24 songs have been translated into many languages of the world. All the hymns contain mangala slokas at the end. The place where Jayadeva began and completed the hymns has since been called Jayadevapura.

ARUNAGIRINATHAR (15th century)

Musical Background: Although in his early years he was known to have led an immoral life, he later reformed himself and spent the rest of his life in music.

Region: He hailed from Tanjavur district, Tamilnadu. He is also believed to have travelled far and wide, to visit temples, singing in praise of many deities.

Contribution: He was the creator of Tiruppugazh, which means, "praise of God" in Tamil. He was a prolific composer, who is believed to have composed 16000 songs, of which only about 2000 remain today. His Tiruppugazhs are known for their beautiful, flowing lyrics coupled with complex rhymes and rhythmic structures. His Tiruppugazhs led to the invention of a new genre of tala called Chanda Tala. Thus he earned the title,"Chanda Pavalaperuman", meaning, "unequalled master of the verse". He also composed in many of the 35 talas, 175 talas, as well as 108 talas. He was well known for the rhythmic intricacies he wove effortlessly into his compositions. His work, Bhoota Vetala Vaguppu, contains information about some Ragas, Panns, the 108 talas and percussion instruments, making it invaluable from a historical point of view. All the Tiruppugazhs end with the word "perumale...", making it easy to identify the composer.

Veena Kuppayyar (1798-1860)

Veena Kuppayyar was a famous vainika (veena player), disciple of Shri Thyagaraja and a composer of merit.
Veena Kuppayyar was born into a musical family in Tiruvottiyur. His father Sambamoorti Sastri was a famous vocalist and a veena player. Kuppayyar had his initial training from his father. Later he became a disciple of Thyagaraja and learnt composing from him. He was also a Sanskrit and Telugu scholar. He also learnt violin, which was a new instrument in Carnatic music at the time. But, it was for his profiency in Veena that Kuppayyar came to be well known and veena became a part of his name too.

Veena Kuppayyar later shifted to Muthialpet in Madras. Kovur Sundara Mudaliar was his primary patron and enjoyed the status of asthana vidhwan there. Even Thyagaraja visited Mudaliar's madras house. Kuppayyar trained a lot of disciples in his gurukula, who carried forward the Thyagaraja shishya parampara, helping to spread his krithi-s and music.

Veena Kuppayyar composed in Telugu, both krithi-s and varnam-s. His varnam-s like saami ninne kori (Shankarabharanam) are very famous. His mudra was Gopaaladaasa, in honour of his family diety.

Mysore Sadashiva Rao(1800-1870)

A prominent vocalist of the Mysore court, he can be credied as the pioneer of Mysore Bani. Sadashiva Rao was born to Ganesha Rao and Krishna Bai at Girampet near Chittoor in North Arcot. They were Marathi Smartha Deshasthas. He had his musical training under Venkataramana Bhagavatar, a pupil of Thyagaraja. Two of his patrons, brought him to Mysore and introduced him to Sri Krishnaraja Wadayar III, the Mysore king at the time. Impressed by his singing, he was made a court musician.

Sadashiva Rao was also a great teacher. His disciples like Veena Sheshanna and Veena Subbanna later became legendary musicians. Sadashiva Rao has composed mostly in Telugu. He went on a pilgrimage of south India and composed krithi-s at all the temples he visited. He also composed a krithi for Thyagaraja and sung it when he visited Walajapet.

Subbaraya Shastry(1803-1862)

the son and disciple of Shyama Shastry, one of the famous trinity. He also has the unique distinction of being a disciple of all the three of the trinity, having also learnt from Shri Tyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dhikshithar.

Subbaraya was born as the second son of Shyama Shastry in Tanjavur. He studied music initially from his father. Later Shyama Shastry asked Thyagaraja to teach his son and sent Subbaraya to him. Thyagaraja had great respect for Shyama Shastry and gladly took Subbaraya as a disciple, who soon became one of his favourite students. After a few years Subbaraya came back and continued his studies under his father. He also had the opportunity to learn a few krithi-s from Dheekshithar. He also learnt Hindustani music from Ramadas Swami.

Later Subbaraya Shastry shifted to Udayarpalayam, whose rulers became his patrons. Since he had no sons, he adopted his nephew Annasami Sastri, who became his primary disciple and an accomplished composer. Tanjavur Kamakshi, the dancer, was one of his disciples. Legendary Veena Dhannammal was the grand daughter of Tanjavur Kamakshi.

Subbaraya Shastry composed only a couple of dozen krithi-s. But their rasa-bhava, devotion and intricacies have made them enduring and famous. Influence of all three of the trinity can be found in his compositions - words and chitha swara-s by his father, and in madhyama kaalam by Tyagaraja, slower speeds by Dhikshithar.

Disclaimer: the above list is prepared from culling and compiled from different sources for music lovers and whatever mentioned above is absolutely not my opinion, and i claim no historical authenticity or whatsoever.

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