In our country we are familiar with a large number of devotional poets whose outpourings are part of our musical heritage. Some of them have an important place in history of our music and the evolution of music forms. It is difficult to draw the line between these devotional poets and the composers who form the subject of this volume.
The galaxy of composers in this volume includes Jayadeva of Gita Govinda fame, Annamacharya, who shares with Purandaradasa the honour of being the Pitamaha of Karnataka music, Kshetrajna, a specialist in madhura bhakti, Tyagaraja, Muthuwami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri, the trinity of Karnataka music, Maharaja Svati Tirunal, the royal composer from Travancore and Gopal Krishna Bharati, who has won immortal fame by his composition on Nanda, the pariah. Amir Khusrau who is a product of the blend of two cultures, Haridas and Tansen, the pioneers of the highest form of Hindustani music, Dhrupad, are three outstanding names in the history of Hindustani music. Haridas was a saint-singer who sang only of God and for God only.
Two volumes in this series have been devoted to saints and mystics. The discourses and poetic outpourings of most of them are an integral part of our musical heritage. This volume entitled "Composers" includes only some of these luminaries. Those who figure here are basically composers and their contributions form the high-watermark of classical concert-music.
Jayadeva leads the galaxy of these composers. All music compositions before the Gita-govinda can be seen only in music treatises. Jayadeva's work is a masterpiece in Sanskrit poetry, imitated endlessly by later poets and composers. It is also the fountain -head of dance and dance-drama, and of the sampradaya of "madhura-bhakti". Annamacharya shares the honour of being the "Pitamaha" of Kamataka music along with Purandaradasa. His compostions gave shape to the Kirtana, a major song-form of Karnataka music. His creation include the theme of madhura-bhakti but it was ksherajna was a master of the rhetoric of love. He has composed in the Alankara and Natya Sastras. His Padas are still sung and their abhinaya form is popular in dance.
Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri from the Trinity of Karnataka Music. In their compositions, the Kirtana or kriti from attained perfection. The Variations in Raga and Tala, and their amalgamation with Bhava go on to make the Kriti more than just a recitative devotional composition. The repertoire of South Indian concerts is dominated by their creations.
Although Tanjavur and Trivandrum are far from each other, music and dance brought them close during the time of the Royal Composer and patron Maharaja Svati Tirunal, whose varied compositions include kritis, Varnas, Padas, pieces for dance, Karnataka and Hindustani modes and long-story compositions for Harikatha. Gopalakrishna Bharati represents the Tamil composers of this time. The long-story composition on Nanda, the Pariah- devotee of Lord Nataraja made him immortal. He adopted colloquial Tamil in his songs. There are very few Bharata Natya recitals without his song on the dance of Nataraja,Natanam adinar in Raga Vasanta. Varugalamo, in which the Pariah-bhakta begs audience with the lord is another moving masterpiece in Raga Manji.
Three outstanding names in the history of Hindustani music are Amir Khusrau, Tansen and Swami Haidas. The first is usually considered to be responsible for the Persian influences in North Indian music, Ragas, song forms and instruments. The other two were primarily musicians, pioneers of the highest form of North Indian music, the Dhrupad. Haridas was a saint-singer who shunned court and patrons and sang only of God and for God.
The contributors to this series are people who have made special study of the subject of their article. Regarding the details about the lives of the personalities, biographical evidence is available only in some cases. For the rest there is an indistinguishable blend of legend with history. These, however, are important as they reflect the popular image of these great artists and people's evaluation of their contributions.
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