Most of his songs are on Krishna
1. OVK definitely had a personal affinity for Lord Krishna but his family worshipped Devi. They have mentioned that they possess an idol of Devi which has been with them for a few generations even before the composer.
with a predilection for dance
2. I would not say most
of his songs have a predilection for dance. Most are pure music pieces of the highest calibre.
3. However, many also happen to be suited for dance because of the rich tapestry of rasas he has woven, be it Vinayaka/Krishna/Shiva/Rama/Muruga. I cannot forget Dr Vyjayantimala Bali's soul-stirring portrayal of OVK's sankshepa Ramayana Ragamalika in Brahma Gana Sabha this year nor her powerful depiction of his Anjaneya Saptaratna krti - bhakta bhAgadhEyAnjanEya (Madhyamavati) which had the audience in tears.
4. There are a few score pieces where he has embedded specific jatis and he also composed tillanas. His unique masterpiece - the naTAngam in Gambheeranattai was probably never intended for a music
recital (since it also has free-form verses/jatis).
5. OVK refers to or talks
about music and dance in numerous pieces, mentions gamakas, sapta talas and other related aspects.
his compositions range on other deities including minor deities like Surya, hanuman etc.,
6. Apart from a few dozen operas like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavatam, Pranavopadesham and Daksha Yagam, I have so far seen around 10-12 songs each on Rama, Shiva, Muruga, Vinayaka and a smaller number of pieces each on Meenakshi, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parthasarathy and various other kshetra krtis (Srirangam, Mylapore, Udupi, Pandarapur, Tiruvarur, Tirukkannapuram, Sikkil, Pazhani, Chidambaram and many more). There are songs on Surya, Aghora Veerabhadra and great personalities like Valmiki, Vyasa, Andal, Tirumangai Azhwar, Manickavachakar etc.
7. The largest number of even one-off songs are probably on Krishna.
8. There are several Sanskrit shlokas such as Madhava panchakam, Nrsimha panchakam, Ranganatha panchakam etc. There are also numerous free verses and poetry in Tamil - which are eminently suited for musical discourses.
he even considers Krishna as his Guru...
9. There are at least 15 sublime krtis on guru
without ever mentioning a name (out of reverence and regard). Legend goes that he had a human spiritual guru but the Lord was his guru as far as music goes.
10. OVK's one-off songs on Radha are brilliant and significant - almost all other Carnatic composers have preferred to mention Rukmini more.
I have only given a bird's eye's view here but even here one can see that his colossal works naturally
straddled music, dance, drama and spiritual discourses, leaving imprints of significant strength.And this was no accident.
Apart from his own genius, he lived during a period when the Tanjore area was a melting pot of various influences and when music of a very high quality was much closer to other art forms. Things gradually changed from late 1700s and things became more specialised (and definitely less demanding).