HYDERABAD: Forgotten Composers’ is a compilation of the vague history of and the contributions of Carnatic composers over the years. The book consists of 18 chapters of which the first three are acknowledgements and set up for what is to come. Each chapter speaks of the works and life of one composer (a total of 15 composers) and the composers are listed in alphabetical order. The author clarifies thoroughly that the composers aren’t listed chronologically or by order of merit.
Aruna Chandraju is a journalist, photographer and a translator who specialises in art and culture. And as a good journalist would be, she ensures that she put in all the information she gathered into the book. Most of the information however only gathered either from the internet or tidbits that any Carnatic musician would know.
The chapters themselves seem essayic and aren’t necessarily intriguing. As much as the book promises to shed light on the said composers life, it might seem like a mere statements of facts that on would find on the internet. As I prepared to read the book, I expected to find tidbits of composers from their descendants or anecdotes that might have been passed on generation. However, the chapters only chronicled the musical achievements or titles that they might have attained. There was a lot of details and information about their musical contributions and experiments that are even today celebrated. The writing style either conversational particularly when the author repeatedly mentions how humbled she is to write about great personalities as them or is straight forward encyclopedia-ish. It is a little tiresome to wade through two pages of reference links after each chapter. It would have been refreshing to have gotten to read information the author acquired firsthand.
Credit where it is due, the author does bring to fore some composers who most often aren’t remembered although their work is respected and followed even today. They merely get overshadowed by the more popular compositions and their composers. The book also ensures that composers from all ages and times are mentioned - at least as far as the 15 are concerned. Bottom Line: If you need a quick reference of the most popular writings of a certain Carnatic composer, this book could come handy.
Publisher: Notion Press
— Srividya Palaparthi