Ilaiyaraaja (born Gnanadesikan on 2 June 1943) is an Indian film composer who mainly works in the Tamil film Industry. Regarded as one of the finest music composers in India, Ilaiyaraaja is also an instrumentalist, conductor, singer, and a songwriter. To date, he has composed over 4500 songs and provided film scores for more than 950 Indian films in various languages, particularly being acclaimed for his background scoring. His songs and background score played a very crucial role in the success of many films.
Ilaiyaraaja has been a prominent composer of film music in the South Indian cinema since the late 1970s. His works are mainly in Tamil, but has also scored music for numerous films in Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi. Off late, he also composed for 2 Marathi films. He integrated folk—in Tamil—and introduced western musical sensibilities into the South Indian musical mainstream.
A gold medalist in classical guitar from Trinity College of Music, London, in 1993, he organised a full symphony and thus became the first Asian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London's Walthamstow Town Hall, which is yet to be released. In 2003, according to an international poll conducted by BBC, people from 155 countries voted his composition "Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu" from the 1991 film Thalapathi as fourth in the world's top 10 most popular songs of all time. He was also nominated in the Best Indian album Music Awards category at US based Just Plain Folks Music Organization, which is the largest grassroots music organization in the world, and stood third for his "Music Journey: Live in Italy".