Thanjavur Quartet or Tanjore Quartet (Tamil:தஞ்சை நால்வர்) 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 Pillai(Tamil: சின்னைய்யா) (1802–1856), Ponnayya Pillai(Tamil: பொன்னைய்யா) (1804–1864), Sivanandam Pillai(Tamil: சிவானந்தம்) (1808–1863) and Vadivelu Pillai (Tamil: வடிவேலு) (1810–1845) were employed in the courts of the Maratha King Serfoji II at Thanjavur.
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 Pillai as an ekasandhagrahi, one who 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 Pillai as the court musician. Vadivelu Pillai also learnt to play the violin gained expertise and demonstrated that not oly Kalpita sangeetam but Manodharma sangeetam could also be easily and deftly played on the instrument. After the Baluswami Dikshitar brother of Muthuswamy Dikshitar have learnt violin from 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.
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