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Famous Carnatic Composers - GKA

Ghanam Krishna Aiyyar - (1790-1854) Rajsri Gautam points out that padams in Telugu or Tamil were all written on Tamil soil. Muthu Thandavar, Sarangapani, Muvvanallur Sabhapati Ayyar and Ghanam Krishna Ayyar all belong to the great line of padam composers.

The term 'pada' has been used even in 'Sangita Ratnakara' of Sarangadeva and was used to denote any musical composition. 'Sringara Sankirtanalu' came into vogue since the days of Tallapakkam composers in the 15th century. Kshetragna, in the seventeenth century, appeared as the 'Father of Sringal Padams' and perfected the style. The padam emerged as a distinct genre with a nayaka-nayaki motif, three or more charanams, to be sung in the particular ragas which are conducive to enhance the 'bhava' of the padams. Krishna Ayyar is called the 'Tamil Kshetragna' for the excellence of his padams. Kirtanacharya C.R.Srinivasa Ayyangar writes:

'Ghanam Krishna Ayyar stands as a master of Tamil. It is regarded as the high watermark of musical proficiency to sing his padams in the way they have been built.' Krishna Ayyar is among the most illustrious composers. Dr.U.Ve. Swaminatha Ayyar has listed seventy-three kirtans, padams, sindhu and kalithurai of which fifty-seven were published by him. Some of the compositions are:

Velavare - Bairavi
Parengum Parthalum - Kalyani
Teruvil Varano - Kambhoji
Yaar Poye - Todi
Niddirayil soppanathil - Pantuvarali
Ella Arumaigalum - Todi
Tiruvottiyur Tyagarajan - Atana

Krishna Ayyar was grand not only in his compositions but was so in his music too. He specialised in Ghanam rendition. His father, Ramaswami Ayyar was musician, composer and Asthana Vidwan of the Tanjore Court. His four brothers were all musicians. After initial training under his father, Krishna Ayyar with his brothers, Subbarama Ayyar and Sundaram Ayyar had training under Ariyalur Shenbagamannar and then Pachimiriam Adippayya in the distinguished company of Syama Sastri and Pallavi Gopala Ayyar. All the three brothers became samasthana vidwans. The family was a shrine for music.

Krishna Ayyar, at the instance of the ruler, learnt from Bobbili Kesavayya the intricacies of 'ghanam' singing and became proficient in it. He found his patrons in Kabistalam Ramachandra Moopanar, Tiruvidaimarudur Amar Singh and Kacchi Kalyanaranga of Udaiyarpalayam. He was close to Choukam Seenu Ayyangar and Sankarabharanam Narasayya. He had met Tyagaraja at Tiruvaiyaru and Paidala Gurumurti Sastri at Madras. The song 'Summa Summa Varuguma Sugam' (Atana) was composed and sung before Tyagaraja. He sang at the reception to the Governor, Sir Thomas Munro at Madras. He had composed songs in praise of several deities in Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli districts. His devotion to Kacchi Kalyanaranga was too profound for description. He had the obsession that Kacchi's appreciationwas worth several kingdoms. He would have flowered into one of the all-time greats with his erudition, musical acumen but he chose to stick on to that local chieftan of the arid area. he himself posed this to his patron when there was a shade of a lack of cordiality. Krishna Ayyar told him in a song that he stuck to him sacrificing his, all out of love. The patron surrendered since the musician's sacrifice was too enormous and magnanimous to be compensated. Ayyar foreswore a life of meteoric rice and princely luxury and cchose the life of commonplace, by deliberate intent out of sheer regard for a poor patron.

Krishna Ayyar's dedication to art was phenomenal. When Kesavayya started his tuitions, he would retire to Kabistalam, practise intensely with a will to succeed and come back fully accomplished and satisy Bobbili and the ruler. He was catapulted to fame, popularity and status. He had a magnificient personality and travelled on horse back. When he became old, Kacchiranga presented him with a palanquin and men. He commanded considerable respect and his word was carried out earnestly especially in the renovation of temples, tanks, etc. His signature is 'Velar'. His disciples included: Tanjore Adimurthi Ayyar, Gopala Krishna Bharati, Venkatasubba Ayyar ( father of U.Ve.Sa), Krishna Bhagavathar, Subbaraya Ayyar and Nagaswaram Subramaniam.

Mudra: Muttukumaara, VElar



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updated on 03/21/2009