Saint Thyagaraja is one of the pioneers of Carnatic Music. Sri Thyagaraja Music festival is celebrated every year on the day the saint attained Samadhi, as a mark of respect for his contributions to the world of Carnatic Music. The main celebration occurs in Thiruvaiyaru on the banks of river Cauveri, located in Tamil Nadu, India, the place where the Saint spent most of his lifetime.
Carnatic music that we know today wouldn't be this rich without the contributions of other composers namely Syama Sastri and Muthuswami Dikshatar. These three composers together are called the 'thrimUrthy' or Trinity of Carnatic music. Although, Thyagaraja ArAdhanA started in Thiruvaiyaru to celebrate the life of Thyagaraja, it is now celebrated throughout the world as a tribute to the life and music of the trinity of Carnatic music.
Sri Thyagaraja (1767 - 1847)
Saint Thyagaraja was born on 4th May 1767 to Kakarla Ramabrahamam and Seethamma in Thanjavur district of Tamilanadu. He was proficient in both Telugu, his mother tongue and Sanskrit. He started his musical training under Sonti Venkataramanayya, a noted music scholar in the court of Thanjavur king. He composed his first musical composition "Namo Namo Raghavaya" at the age of 13. Saint Thyagaraja was a very spiritual devotee of Lord Rama, he regarded music as a way to experience the love of God. He is remembered both for his devotion and the bhāva (‘emotion’) of his krithi, a song form consisting of pallavi, (the first section of a song) anupallavi (a rhyming section that follows the pallavi) and caranam (a sung stanza; serves as a refrain for several passages of the composition). The Saint is well known for his five compositions collectively called as Pancharathna Kritis (five gems) composed in five different ragas. His compositions always include his signature "Thyagaraja" in them.
Sri Syama Sastri (1762 - 1827)
Syama Sastri was born on April 2nd 1762 to Viswanatha Iyer and Vengalakshmi. He did not have any musical family background. He learnt Telugu and Sanskrit from his father. His first music teacher Sangeeta Swami taught few rare treatises and theoretical knowledge of the music in a short span of four months. He continued his music education under Paccimiriyam Adiyappayya, a court musician under Tanjavur King. Devotion was the basis of his music and he worshiped Goddess Kamakashi. His style is neither simple as that of Thyagaraja nor difficult as that of Muthuswami Dikshitar. He is well known for his use of tala (beat). His most famous compositions include the nine krithis, Navaratnamālikā, in praise of the Goddess Madura Meenakshi and his eighteen krithis in praise of Goddess Kamakshi. His compositions always have his signature of "Shyama Krishna" in them.
Sri Muthuswami Dikshatar (1775-1835)
He was born in 1775 in a musical family to Ramaswami Dikshitar and Subbamma. He received his initial music training from his father and later under Chidambaranatha Yogi. He is a well-versed Veena player and influence of his instrumental capabilities are often seen in his compositions. He composed majority of his kritis in Sanskrit unlike the other two composers who used Telugu predominantly. He is well known for originality of his compositions and structure. He is credited with composing in all the 72 melakarta ragas. His famous compositions include Navagraha Kriti and Ragamalika. He has also set songs to western tunes. His pen name "Guruguha" is engraved in his kritis.