Thanjavur Quartet

Thanjavur Quartet

Thanjavur Quartet were four brothers who lived during the early 19th century and contributed to the development of the Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music. While they excelled in the art of Bharatanatyam, they have also authored a number of "Tana varnams" and "Kritis". The brothers Chinnayya ( _ta. சின்னைய்யா) (1802-1856), Ponnayya ( _ta. பொண்ணைய்யா) (1804-1864), Sivanandam ( _ta. சிவானந்தம்) (1808-1863) and Vadivelu ( _ta. வடிவேலு) (1810 - 1845) were employed in the courts of the Maratha king Serfoji II at Thanjavur.

Musical training

At the encouragement of the king they learnt the nuances of Carnatic music from a number of exponents of their time including Muthuswami Dikshitar. Dikshitar appreciated Vadivelu as an "ekasandhagrahi", one had the ability to repeat a song heard only once. The quartet wrote a set of nine songs called "navaratna mala" in tribute of their teacher.

After a stint at the courts of Serfoji, the brothers moved to Travancore and were patronised by Swati Tirunal. The king appointed Vadivelu as the court mucisian.Vadivelu also learnt to play the violin from a European missionary and introduced it in Carnatic music. Vadivelu also introduced the concept of Mohiniaattam. Until then Kathakali was the prevalent dance form in Kerala and was confined to male dancers. Vadivelu elaborated and refined Mohiniattam along with Maharaja Swathi Tirunal, and this paved the way for women dancers in Kerala.


The four brothers composed numerous "varnams" and "kritis". Some of these are "Amba Souramba" and "Amba Neelamba", "Ambaneelambari" ("Neelambari"), "Satileni" ("Poorvikalyani") , apart from the "navaratna mala".

ee also

*List of Carnatic composers


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