Since this year was thematically based on the composers of devotional music, six lectures on the theme were organized.

Short Description of the Lectures during 2005




Natteri Kidambi Rajagopalachariar presented the first lecture on the earliest divine composers under the title Azvargal Aruliya Amudangal.


A lecture on the compositions of Purandaradasa was presented by musicologist Dr. V.V. Srivatsa.


Oothukadu Venkatakavi's compositions were taken up for exposition in the lecture by Chitravina N Ravikiran.


'Sekkizhar Adi Podi' Dr. T.N. Ramachandran presented the lecture on the compositions of Syama Sastri.


Musicologist Dr. B.M. Sundaram gave a lecture on the compositions of Maharaja Swati Tirunal.


The compositions of contemporary composer Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna were analysed and presented by Dr. B.M. Sundaram


During the year nine lectures were organized which were followed up with concerts.

Short Description of the Lectures during 2006




Dr B M Sundaram presented a lecture on the musical form Varnams – especially tana varnams.  The structure of the varna, the mode of rendering and the benefits of practicing them were explained.


Subbaraya Sastri – His early life, lineage and compositions were dealt with in the lecture presented by Dr V V Srivatsa.


The contributions of the Tanjore Quartette were taken up for the lecture demonstration by Dr Premeela Gurumurthy.  The brothers, their compositions, the royal patronages they received, their contributions to music and dance and their long continuing heritage were discussed.


Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s compositions, guru parampara and the royal patronage he received were elaborated by Dr B M Sundaram


Chitravina N Ravikiran gave a lecture on the Sanskrit compositions of Tyagaraja.  Tyagaraja’s compositions in general, the exact authorship of his compositions and his command over Sanskrit language were featured.


Padams and Javalis – their evolution, themes, composers and concert status were elaborated in the lecture by Dr. Subhashini Parthasarathy.


The lecture featured the life and contributions of Tanjavur Shankara Iyer.  His prowess as a musician, teacher and composer were also dealt with.


The mangala vadya Nagasvaram, its evolution, its importance in the temple rituals and concert platform were elaborated in the lecture presented by Dr B M Sundaram.


Prof Karaikkudi Subramaniam gave a lecture on the Veena, its stages of development, its religious association, structure, literary references and famous performers.


Mrdangam artiste S. Gopakumar presented a lecture on code for percussion music for visually handicapped styled as ‘Dot line vision power’.  The lecture elaborated on how percussion instruments can be taught to the visually challenged.


During the year six lectures were organized which were followed up with concerts featuring the compositions of the vaggeyakaras whose contributions were dealt with.

Short Description of the Lectures during 2007




Dr B M Sundaram presented a lecture on the musical instrument Nagasvaram.  He elaborated on the origin, history and concert status of the instrument.


Dr B M Sundaram presented a lecture on the Compositions of M M Dandapani Desikar, containing the details of his musical training, compositions, his services at the Tevaram school and film appearances.


Dr P L Saraswati Ram spoke on the life and musical contributions of Neelakanta Sivan.  The royal patronages he received, his compositions and their publications were also touched upon.


The compositions of Thiruvarur Ramasamy Pillai and their unique aspects, his association with Saint Tyagaraja and Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and early life were the contents of the lecture presented by Dr. B.M. Sundaram.


Kavikunjara Bharati's life and contributions were taken up for lecture by Dr Premeela Gurumurthy.  The talk consisted of a brief note on the composer's birth place, his title and his compositions.


A lecture on the compositions of Thiruvotriyur Tyagayyar was presented by Dr B.M. Sundaram.  Tyagayyar's compositions - his varnas in particular, his publication Pallavi Svarakalpavalli and his friendship with the likes of Veena Dhanammal, Tacchur Singaracharyulu brothers et al were discussed.


Another lecture by Dr. B.M. Sundaram, but this time on the compositions of Madurai G S Mani.  Besides the composer's mastery over music, his academic excellence was also hinted.


The compositions of Dr. V.V. Srivatsa the scholarly polyglot were dealt with in the lecture by Dr. B.M. Sundaram. 


During December 2008, nine lecture demonstrations by various scholars in the field of Carnatic music were conducted.

Short Description of the Lectures during December 2008




The early life and musical contributions of Dr B.M. Sundaram formed the crux of the lecture.  His compositions, the books authored by him and his valuable compilations were also highlighted.


The lecture was by Dr B.M. Sundaram on the compositions of Mysore Veena Seshanna.  His lineage, guru-sishya parampara, association with the Indian National Congress and the Mysore royal palace were elaborated on.


Dr. S. Sunder gave a lecture on the compositions of Gopalakrishna Bharati.  His early life, the incidents involving Saint Tyagaraja - his contemporary and the grand opera 'Nandanar Charitra' consisting of various musical forms were dealt with. 


Walajapettai Venkatramana Bhagavatar's compositions was the content of the lecture by Dr B.M. Sundaram.  The lecture featured Bhagavatar's life, his gurukulavasa with Saint Tyagaraja, his compositions and disciples.


'Poochi' Srinivasa Iyengar - his compositions, his training under Patnam Subramanya Iyer, his stalwart disciples and the various royal patronages that he received were discussed in the lecture presented by Dr. Premeela Gurumurthy.


The composer who composed Tamil padas exclusively - Vaideeswarankoil Subbarama Iyer was the subject of the lecture by Dr. B.M. Sundaram.  He spoke on the life and reason behind the compositions of the Vaggeyakara.


Dr. B.M. Sundaram presented a lecture on the compositions of Smt. Suguna Purushothaman, who is a living legend and a contemporary composer.  Her dexterity in handling the 108 talas, performing tala avadhanas and innovative compositions were part of the lecture.


The lecture was on a Viseshavadya - Mukhaveena.  The evolution of the instrument, its presence in the concert platform and references to the instrument in various musical treatises were explained.  A unique concert featuring the Mukhaveena was also organized. 


Sanskrit compositions of Madurai G.S. Mani, who is a polyglot, was taken up for lecture by Dr. B.M. Sundaram.  His services at the US Embassy, his role as a film music director's assistant and his concert performances were the contents of the lecture.


Short Description of the Lectures during 2009




Dr B M Sundaram presented a lecture on the Compositions of Mysore Veena Seshanna, at East West Music Foundation, Thiruvallur, Tamilnadu under the aegis of CFA.


A lecture on the Compositions of Gopalakrishna Bharati with emphasis on Nandanar Charitra Keertanais was held at Kottivakkam Vinayaka Temple, Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai, Tamilnadu.  Dr B M Sundaram demonstrated the compositions.


The unique aspects of the Compositions of Vaideeswarankoil Subbarama Iyer were explained by Dr B M Sundaram at East West Music Foundation & Thiruvallure Aastheega Samajam, Thiruvallore, Tamilnadu.


A lecture on the compositions of K Ponnayya Pillai was held elaborating on the early life, education, compositions and publications of the works of the vaggeyakara.  Dr B M Sundaram was the speaker.


Compositions of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar was taken up by Dr B M Sundaram in which he gave details of the composer as a ruler of Mysore, his education, his compositions and his role as a patron of fine arts in Mysore palace.


Dr Premeela Gurumurthy gave a lecture on the compositions of Pallavi Gopala Iyer highlighting his guru parampara, the royal patronage he received, his compositions and the most prominent ones among them.


Sangita Sthita Prajna Prof T R Subramanian was the final lecture featuring the life and achievements of the living legend Shri. TRS.


During December 2010, six lecture demonstrations by various scholars in the field of Carnatic music were conducted.

Short Description of the Lectures during December 2010



6th Dec 2010


Lalgudi Smt. Vijayalakshmi elaborated on the life and musical contributions of Lalgudi Sri. G. Jayaraman. His musical journey as a violinist and his accomplishments as a composer of various Carnatic musical forms were highlighted.

7th Dec 2010

Vaggeyakara Mysore Vasudevachar - His musical excellence from a young age, his days at the Mysore royal palace, his guru and sishya lineage and the technical aspects of his compositions were dealt with in this lecture presented by Dr. B.M. Sundaram.

8th Dec 2010

Dr. Premeela Gurumurthy, gave a lecture on the compositions of Mazhavai Chidambara Bharati - a Tamil composer.  His musical background, the popularity of his songs in stage dramas and the publications of his works were discussed.

9th Dec 2010

Dr. B.M. Sundaram spoke on the musical form Javali.  The structure of the composition, its evolution, prominent composers and the present status of the musical form in concerts were touched upon.

10th Dec 2010

The lecture was on the compositions of Koteesvara Iyer.  An account of his early life was given followed by details of his popular 72 melakartha compositions.  Dr. S.A.K. Durga also gave details of the publications of the work and the contributions of Sri. S. Rajam.

11th Dec 2010

A lecture on comparative lines featuring the study of Indian Musical System - Carnatic and Hindustani - was done by Dr. M. Narmada.  The evolution, musical forms and concert styles of both the systems were included.


During December 2011, four lecture demonstrations by various scholars in the field of Carnatic music were conducted.

Compositions of Margadarsi Seshayyangar by Dr SAK Durga, 22.12.2011:

Margadarsi Sheshayyangar is one of the lesser known composers of Carnatic music, who lived during the pre-trinity days. He was perhaps a contemporary of Shahaji, who ruled Tanjore during 1684-1710. According to Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Dikshitar, Seshayyangar was a vaishava brahmin, a devotee of Lord Ranganatha, and a profound scholar of Sanskrit and music. He used the mudra “Kōsala” in all him compositions, and the reason may be that he hailed from Ayodhya. He is known to have been among the earliest to use the raga Begada and Brndavanasaranga. Sheshayyangar’s kritis have triple charanams.  Most of his compositions are on Lord Ranganatha, but a few are also on Lord Varadaraja of Kancipuram, Goddess Lakshmi, Rama, Sita, and saint Ramanuja. In 1902, nine kirtanams of Seshayyangar were published in “Gayaka locana” by Singaracharyulu.  Two specimens of his compositions appear in the “Oriental Music in European Notation” by A.M.C. Cinnayya Mudaliyar. In the Palace Library at Trivandrum and in the Kerala University collections his manuscripts are available.  The famous musician Shatkala Govinda Marar sang many of Seshayyangar's songs before the king, Svati Tirunal. Attracted by the style of his compositions, Svati Tirunal wrote a treatise in Malayalam, known as as "muhana prasanantya prasa vyavasta,” dealing with the principles of proper usage of shabdalankara in musical compositions in Sanskrit. Svati Tirunal points out at the commencement of this work that he gathered the material for this work from the compositions of Sesha Ramanuja and Seshayyangar. Because he paved the way for a systematic style of compositions for all composers that followed, his title Margadarsi (one who shows the direction), is appropriate.

Compositions of Irayimman Thampi by Dr Premeela Gurumurthy, 23.12.2011:

Ravi Varman Thampi better known as Irayimman Thampi (1782–1856) was a Carnatic musician as well as a music composer from Kerala, India. He was a vocalist in the court of Svati Tirunal.  He went under the tutorship of Shankaran Elayathu in grammar, linguistics and Sanskrit literature. He wrote his first poem when he was fourteen and dedicated it to Karthika Tirunal Dharmaraja of Travancore.  Irayimman Thampi was already thirty one years of age when Svati Tirunal Maharaja was born. Irayimman Thampi wrote the famous lullaby Omanathinkal Kidavo for Swathi Thirunal. Ironically, he also wrote a charama sloka for Svati in 1848. Maharajah Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma is known to have referred to Ravi Varman Thampi as Thampi maman (uncle Thampi). There existed a healthy competition between Tampi and Svati TirunaL in composing songs. The maharaja loved to show his compositions to Tampi for his approval, and certainly valued his opinion and appreciation of them. 

Irayimman tampi has to his credit more that 500 compositions. But, only few of those compositions have survived, which include 39 kirttanams, 5 varnams, 23 padams and a few Attakkatha songs. In the work, “Kerala sangitam”, 60 compositions attributed to Tampi are listed. Tampi has composed songs on several gods/goddesses. Tampi used the mudra “Padmanabha” in his compositions which caused some confusion regarding the authorship of some of his krtis. Tampi’s krtis contain numerous and lengthy caranam lines.  Kutti Kunju Tankachi, the daughter of Irayimman Thampi was also a composer. Irayimman Thampi died in the year 1856.

Compositions of Chitravina N Ravikiran by Smt Suguna Purushothaman, 24.12.2011:

When he was barely two years old, Ravikiran the prodigy stunned the music world with his ability to identify and render about 325 ragasand 175 talas. He was also able to answer complex technical questions on various aspects of Carnatic music when quizzed by luminaries. His proclivity for music had been identified and nurtured by his father Chitravina Narasimhan. Later Ravikiran moved on to become a vocalist and gave his debut performance in 1972, at age five.  Ravikiran is easily among the most prolific composers in the Carnatic arena today. He discovered a new raga when he was two years old and named it Choodamani, after his mother. Since then he has introduced several new ragas like Keshavapriya, Mohini, Snehapriya, Shivamanohari and Andhakarini. He has to his credit in excess of 500 compositions covering a range of themes in various musical forms such as varnam, krti, padam, javali and tillana. He has also employed a new musical form that he has named swarakrti (compositions sans lyrics but with well-defined structure similar to the krti). He is a multi-lingual composer, at home in five languages - Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Kannada.  He is the first composer to have composed in each one of the 35 talas of Carnatic music. He is also the first to have composed a 72-mela raga malika geetam. His other unique pieces include a 5-raga-5-tala-5-jati tillana, and a 5-language multi-styled piece, Sree rama pattabhishekame. Ravikiran signs his pieces with the phrase, 'ravi-shashi'. He has also employed a new musical form that he has named swarakrti (compositions sans lyrics but with well-defined structure similar to the krti). He has composed major pieces in majestic, traditional ragas like Yadukulakambhodhi, Shahana, Dhanyasi, Surati and Devagandhari, and also handled ragas such as Ranjani, Kadanakutoohalam, Bindumalini and Sindhubhairavi. His varnams and tillanas are a blend of the innovative and the intricate. 

A Divine Bamboo by Smt Mala Chandrasekar, 25.12.2011:

This was a lecture under the Visesha Vadyanubhava category.  The flute is an important instrument in Indian classical music and developed independently of the Western flute. The oldest flute ever discovered may be a fragment of the femur of a juvenile cave bear, with two to four holes, found at Divje Babe in Slovenia and dated to about 43,000 years ago. A flute produces sound when a stream of air directed across a hole in the instrument creates a vibration of air at the hole. Two main varieties of Indian flutes are currently used. The first, the Bansuri, has six finger holes and one embouchure hole, and is used predominantly in the Hindustani music of Northern India. The second, the Venu or Pullanguzhal, has eight finger holes, and is played predominantly in the Carnatic music of Southern India. Presently, the eight-holed flute with cross-fingering technique is common among many Carnatic flautists. Prior to this, the South Indian flute had only seven finger holes, with the fingering standard developed by Sharaba Shastri, of the Palladam school, at the beginning of the 20th century.  The quality of the flute's sound depends somewhat on the specific bamboo used to make it, and it is generally agreed that the best bamboo grows in the Nagercoil area in South India.


Ramanathapuram ‘Poochi’ Srinivasa Iyengar, 9.9.2012

The first lecture of the year was on Vaggeyakara Ramanathapuram ‘Poochi’ Srinivasa Iyengar. He was a disciple of Patnam Subramanya Iyer and a third generation disciple in the lineage of disciples of Saint Tyagaraja. He was a composer of repute and is also credited with have trained many musicians. Dr B M Sundaram gave a special address about Srinivasa Iyengar. He stated that when compared to Hindustani music, Carnatic music gives more importance to lyrics (sahitya) and hence a vaggeyakara gains significance in our system. Among the vaggeyakaras, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar is one who has composed various musical forms like Varnas, Krtis, Javalis and Tillanas. He learnt under Patnam Subramanya Iyer as per the recommendations of Pandithurai Thevar and Bhaskara Sethupathi of the Tanjore royal palace. Dr B.M. Sundaram also spoke in detail about Patnam Subramanya Iyer and Mysore Vasudevachar. He mentioned about the disciples of Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar namely Salem Duraiswamy Iyengar, Madurai Srirangam Iyengar and Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar.

‘Vidyasundari’ Bangalore Nagaratnamma, 3.11.2012

The last surviving disciples of Saint Tyagaraja, Umayalpuram Krishna and Sundara Bhagavatars identified his burial spot with great difficulty and rebuilt it with granite. They conducted aradhana every year till 1910 when unfortunately, the two brothers fell out. Later in 1921, Bangalore Nagarathnamma, the Devadasi, involved herself in the Aradhana. By October 1921, she acquired the samadhi land, built a shrine for Tyagaraja and installed a granite idol of the saint all at her personal expense. As per her will, Nagarathnamma left the entire samadhi land to the Vidyasundari Bangalore Nagarathnamma. Trust and its representatives still perform the abhishekam to the Tyagaraja idol during the aradhana every year. It is with pure devotion towards Tyagaraja that Nagaratnamma carried out all these activities, given the fact that women were not allowed to perform at the aradhana those days.

Dr B M Sundaram traced the details of her birth, early life, training in music and dance. Her talent in composing and command over Sanskrit were highlighted.  He also spoke of his association with her and narrated the interesting incident of Dr Balamuralikrishna’s first concert at Tiruvaiyaru where Nagaratnamma took the child in her arms and ran to her room so that no evil eyes were cast on him.

Dr Premeela Gurumurthy shared her memories of Nagaratnamma as told to her by her guru, C Banni Bai, the harikatha stalwart. She also gave a few important references from V Sriram’s book, Devadasi and Saint. She praised Muralidharan for being a pioneer in organising a program in memory of Nagaratnamma, who has done yeoman service to Tyagaraja and the conduct of the aradhana in his memory every year.   Audio clippings of two of the padams sung by Nagaratnamma were later played for the audience.


Week-long music workshop

The students of various private music institutions and music colleges in Chennai were benefitted by the week-long music workshop organized by Chennai Fine Arts. The workshop was organized between 8th and 14th June, as a regular yearly event. It was attended by nearly 25 students in the age group of ten to twenty-five years. This being a time of vacation, the workshop turned out to be a success. The workshop focused on areas such as voice culture, music therapy and music theory. Young research scholars from various universities acted as resource persons and conducted the workshop. The participants who gave their feedback after the event appreciated the conduct of the workshop at this point of time in the year. They were also happy about the fact that no entry fee was charged and lunch was also provided fee of cost on all seven days. These enabled students from far areas also attend the event. The major highlights of the workshop were music therapy and voice culture training. While music therapy dealt with the capabilities of various ragas in curing diseases or working other wonders, sessions on voice culture taught the students how to preserve their voice and make it perfect for performances. CFA proposes to take this workshop to regions outside Chennai and benefit the students of music there, in the near future. The founder of CFA, Shri. P.N. Muralidharan stated that it was his vision to take music to every nook and corner and give the joy of enjoying pure classical music, to every individual.

Special Lectures




Prof Mysore V Subramanya presented a lecture about the compositions of his grand-father, Veena Seshanna. Sheshanna (1852 – 1926) was the descendant of Paccimiriyam Aadiyappayya. He learnt music from Mysore Sadashiva Rao and Veena Venkatasubbayya. Besides Veena, he was also adept at playing other instruments namely piano, harmonium, jalatarangam, swaragath and violin. Sheshanna composed 53 compositions, including Swarajatis, Padas, Javalis and many Tillanas.


Dr Premeela Gurumurthy spoke on the greatness and compositions of Badracala Ramadas. Gopanna, later hailed as Ramadas, lived in the village of Nelakondapalli near Bhadrachalam, Andhra Pradesh during the 17th century and is renowned for constructing a temple for Rama at Badrachalam. Besides devotional kirtanas, he also wrote Dasarathi Shatakamu with the signature 'Dasaradhee Karuna payonidhi' a collection of nearly 108 poems dedicated to Lord Rama, the son of Dasaratha.


Dr M Chandrasekaran, the violin maestro and direct disciple of Mannargudi Sambasiva Bhagavatar, the contemporary composer, presented a stunning vocal concert of his compositions. A disciple of Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer in music and Sri Madurai Narayana Bhagavathar and Saraswathy Bai in Harikatha, Sambasiva Bhagavatar performed more than 1,000 music concerts and 7,000 harikaha performances all over India. A composer since his 14th year, Bhagavathar composed more than 3,000 songs in many languages for Harikatha Nirupanam and also different musical forms such as Geetham, Krithi, Javali, Thillana and Ragamalika. His sahityams are compiled and published as Sangeetha Ratna Mala.


Dr Sunder presented a concert of Annamacharya’s Compositions. Annamacharya is believed to be the reincarnation of the precious sword of Vishnu. He is widely regarded as the Pada kavita Pitamaha. Annamacharya is said to have composed as many as 36,000 songs on Lord Venkateswara, of which only about 12,000 are available today. He was one of the first few who opposed the social stigma towards the untouchable castes in his era.


Tadepally Venkata Subrahmanya Sastri is another contemporary composer, whose compositions were presented by Dr Tadepally Lokanadha Sarma, his son. Tadepally Venkata Subramanya Sastri, also known as Swami Pranavananda Bharati Kumar is the author of various forms of poetry, classical compositions, harikathas, burra kathas, dramas, short stories, novels and 1000 krtis on Lalitha Parameswari corresponding to her 1000 names in as many ragas.


Shri. R. Suryaprakash presented a concert of Arunachalakavi’s krtis followed by the lecture. Arunachala Kavi was fluent in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. He wrote Rama Natakam, a musical drama based on the Ramayana. Kavirayar was honoured by Maharaja Tulaja, the King of Tanjavur, and by several other patrons of that time. He also composed Seergazhi Sthala Puranam, Seergazhi Kovai, Hanumar Pillai Tamil, Ajomukhi Natakam and a few Keertanas.


Dr Rajshri Ramakrishna presented a lecture and concert on the compositions of Manambuccavadi Venkatasubbayya and Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan. Akumadugula Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbayya was a cousin and a direct student of Saint Tyagaraja. He was an accomplished singer and a renowned teacher. Five of Venkatasubbayya's students, Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer, Patnam Subramanya Iyer, Saraba Sastri, Tyagaraja (the grandson of Saint Tyagaraja) and Fiddle Venkoba Rao went on to become famous composers and musicians of merit. Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan and his elder brother, Ramaswami Sivan, were the earliest performing duo in the history of Carnatic music. He is credited with the magnum-opus composition, the 72 Melaragamalika.

Connect With Us

Copyright © 2012 Chennai Fine Arts.