I was recently asked to write a few words on him and was quite shocked at how little I knew and how there is generally no information on him. Here is a small write-up on a great contributor to Carnatic music.
Though he was a respected scholar on music till the early 1940s, details on CR Srinivasa Iyengar’s life are sketchy in the extreme. He graduated from the Teachers’ College at Saidapet as a Licentiate in Teaching in the 1880s. We know this from the life of Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar who was a classmate. CR Srinivasa Iyengar taught at the SPG College Trichy and later at the Sanskrit College, Madras from where he retired in 1925. Today, he is remembered for his contributions to the world of music, though we do not know as to who was his guru. An acknowledged expert on the songs of Jayadeva (this information is thanks to a preface that Rukmini Devi wrote for a book on D Pattammal’s tunes for the Ashtapadi) and Tyagaraja, he became the music critic of The Hindu in the 1930s. His reviews of the 78 rpm gramophone releases in particular were very popular reading though his trenchant criticism did not endear him to musicians.
For the Swadesamitran, a Tamil daily, he took on the arduous task of notating the songs of Tyagaraja and publishing them with lyrics and meaning. He was a keen participant in the deliberations on the theory of music at the Music Academy and other such organisations. He was given titles such as Abhinava Tyagabrahma, Sangita Bheeshma and Kirtanacharya. The propensity to acquire titles was to land him in controversy in particular with musicians who were waiting for a chance to get back at him for his critical reviews. He was a warm supporter of Koteeswara Iyer in his efforts to compose songs in the 72 melakartas. He is known to have organised music concerts at the Madhava Perumal Temple, Mylapore in the 1930s. By the late 1930s he was ill and passed away shortly thereafter. His book Indian Dance (Natya & Nrtya) was published posthumously in 1948.
I am not sure if the CR Srinivasa Iyengar who brought out volumes of Ramayana is the same person.