Concert of rarely sung Thyagaraja Kritis

Sri R. Krishnamurthy presented a concert of rarely sung Thyagaraja compositions under the aegis of Naada Inbam at Raga Sudha Hall, Mylapore on 28th March 2008. He was accompanied by Vid S.P. Ananthapadmanabha on the violin and Vid Erode Nagaraj on the mrudangam.

The following songs were sung:

1) nAdabrahmA anurAgamE – nAdabrahmam – Adi – mIsu krishNa iyer (O)

2) shrI jAnakI manOhara – IshamanOharI – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

3) janakajA samEta – asAvEri – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (O)

4) ennaDO rakSincitE – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

5) emandunE vicitramunu- shrImaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

6) dEvi shrI tulasammA – mAyAmALavagauLa – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

7) manavini vinumA – jayanArAyaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

8 ) sarivArilOna – bhinnashaDjam – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

9) raghunandana – shuddhadEsi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

10) mEnu jUci mOsa bOkavE – sarasAngi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

11) ODanu jaripE – sArangA – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

12) Edi nI bAhu bala – kApi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

13) vErevvarE gati – suruTTi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

14) patiki mangaLa – Arabhi – Adi – thyAgarAja

15) jAnaki nAyaka nIku – dhanyAsi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

16) nAgashayana pAlita tyAgarAja mangaLam (viruttam) – madhyamAvati – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

…………………………………………………….

Sri Krishnamurthy spoke a lot about Sri Thyagaraja and his kritis. Here are some excerpts:

  • Many people have sung about Sri Thyagaraja. Sri Thyagaraja’s athai’s son and his prime disciple, Manmbuchavadi Venkatasubbaier has sung about him in dEvagAndhAri. Veenai Kuppaiyer was another prime disciple who used to live in Tiruvatriyur in Chennai. His son Tiruvatriyur Tyagayyar has sung a composition in kharaharapriya on Sri Thyagaraja. Two primary disciples of Manmbuchavadi Venkatasubbaiyer were Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan and Pattanam Subramanya Iyer. Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar, a prime disciple of Pattanam Subramanya Iyer, has created a song satguru swAmiki in rItigauLa which was popularized by his disciple Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. Mysore Vasudevacharya, another prominent disciple of Pattanam Subramanya Iyer, has written srimathAdi satguruvaram, a rarely sung composition in kalyANi. This was sung long time back by Mysore Raja Iyengar. Koteeswara Iyer has written ini oru kavalai illai in Tamil. Misu Krishna Iyer, whose compositions were very popular in the 30s and 40s, has sung on Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra etc in rare ragas. He has written nAdabrahmA in the ragam nAdabrahmam, a janya of the 64th mELakarta rAgam vAcaspati. The choice of rAga is very apt because Thyagabrahmam, who was Ramabrahmam’s son was a nAdabrahmam!
  • IshamanOhari is a janya of the 28th mELa harikAmbOji. Sri Thyagaraja has written two compositions in this rAgam. manasa shrI rAmacandruni is a composition that used to be sung often some years back but is a rarity these days. The other composition “shrI jAnakI manOhara” is very rare and is associated with an incident in Sri Thyagaraja’s life. Sri P. Sambamoorthy who was the head of the Department of Indian Music at University of Madras has written about this incident. Sri Thyagaraja was very famous throughout South India. A lot of musicians and other personalities used to come to Tiruvaiyyaru to visit Sri Thyagaraja. Poojas used to be conducted in his house and a lot of compositions used to be sung. Many people used to come just to listen to these compositions. There was a group of people who used to visit just to learn at least one song directly from Sri Thyagaraja. Sri Thyagaraja used to teach this song in IshamanOhari to all such people, irrespective of whether they have formally learnt music or not.
  • Sri Thyagaraja has written 8 kritis in asAvEri. Though he has composed mainly in Telugu, he was very fluent in Sanskrit and has composed beautifully in this language. Generally we associate Sanskrit compositions with Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar. Each of the prominent composers in Sanskrit has his own way of using the language. “janakajA samEta” is a composition of Sri Thyagaraja in Sanskrit. The credit for taking up this rare composition in concerts goes to Sri T.M. Thyagarajan (TMT).
  • According to Sri Rangaramanuja Iyengar, Sri Thyagaraja composed 695 compositions. He has composed in 210 ragas, which is a record in itself. Of these, 63 ragas do not have any proof of existence during the pre-trinity period and almost all of these should have been Sri Thyagaraja’s creations.
  • Sri Thyagaraja had a special fondness for some mELakarta and janya rAgas. For example, saurAshTram is a janya of the 17th mELA sUryakAntam. sUryakAntam is sung as bhAshAngA with bigger nishAdam while its predecessor, the 16th mELA chakravAham is sung with the smaller nishAdam. The mixture of smaller and bigger nishAdams gives a special rakti-effect to saurAshTram that is absent in both sUryakAntam and chakravAham. Sri Thyagaraja has composed 2 compositions in chakravAham and 1 in sUryakAntam. But he has composed 18 compositions in the janya rAgam saurAshTram – 3 in the opera prahlAda bhakti vijayam, 4 in the opera naukA charitram, 1 in utsava sampradAyam, 5 in divyanAmam and 5 as separate songs.
  • Sri Thyagaraja usually composed at least one kriti for a janya rAgam if he created a kriti in its parent rAgam.
  • It is said that when Sri Thyagaraja used to do pUja while singing tuLasI daLamulacE in mAyAmALavagauLa, he used to close his eyes and one by one touch the correct flowers as their names came up in the caraNam of the song.
  • Sri Thyagaraja is probably the only composer who has given a lot of importance to tuLasi as seen from his compositions tuLasI daLamulacE (mAyAmALavagauLa), tulasI jagajjanani (sAvEri), tuLasammA (dEvagAndhAri), amma rAvamma tuLasamma (kalyANi), dEvi shrI tuLasammA (mAyAmALavagauLa) etc.
  • dEvi shrI tuLasammA (mAyAmALavagauLa) was sung by Chittoor Subramanya Pillai in 2 kaLais while Alathur Brothers and people belonging to the Dhanammal school sang it in 1 kaLai
  • The credit for giving life to the 9th mELakarta rAgam dhEnukA goes to Sri Thyagaraja. He has composed in dhEnukA‘s janyam called bhinnashaDjam too.
  • Of the operas created by Sri Thyagaraja, prahlAda bhakti vijayam has been slightly more popular and rendered in AIR recordings by Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, D.K. Pattammal, Balamuralikrishna etc. But naukA chritram has not been that popularly rendered. It is a dance drama. The sArangA kriti ODanu jaripE describes the boat journey.
  • Sri Thyagaraja has composed 9 kritis in suruTTi (suraTi). It is said that the exact age of many of the janya rAgams of harikAmbOji (like suruTTi) is not known.
  • Sri Thyagaraja has composed mangaLams in 4-5 rAgams like saurAshTram, ghanTA, kEdAragauLa, suruTTi, dhanyAsi etc but the saurAshTram mangaLam “nI nAma rUpa mulaku” is the most popular one.