Ilaiyaraaja (born Gnanadesikan) is an Indian film composer who works predominantly in the South Indian cinema since the late 1970s. Regarded as one of the finest music composers in India, Ilaiyaraaja is also an instrumentalist, conductor, singer, and a songwriter. He has composed more than 5000 songs and is the only composer in the history of cinema to provide film scores for more than 1000 films, particularly being acclaimed for his background scoring. His songs and background score played a very crucial role in the success of many films.
He integrated folk—in Tamil—and introduced western musical sensibilities into the South Indian musical mainstream. Ilaiyaraja is also known for creating music by fusing symphonic orchestration with traditional Indian instrumentation, often performed by Budapest Symphony Orchestra. In 1993 he organised a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and thus became the first Indian to compose a full symphony, with Ravi Shankar being the only other Indian to do so. He is also the first Asian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has won four Indian National Film Awards (the highest film honor in India); three for Best Music Direction and one for Best Background Score—tied with A. R. Rahman for the most by any composer—and is a recipient of Padma Bhushan, awarded by the Government of India.