Legendary carnatic singer Balamuralikrishna passed away in Chennai on Tuesday at the age of 86. The renowned singer was conferred with India's second highest civilian honour Padma Vibhushan for his contribution towards Indian Art.
Singer, performer, instrumentalist Balamuralikrishna was also the recepient of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. Condolences poured in for the legendary singer as news of his demise broke.
Born in East Godavari district in current Andhra Pradesh, the man started his professional musical journey at the age of 6 under the tutelage of Parupalli Ramakrishnaiya Panthulu. He gave a full-fledged concert at the young age of 8 at a Thyagaraja Aradhana in Vijayawada. The boy, then named Muralikrishna, was conferred the title of 'Bala' by distinguished Harikatha performer Musunuri Suryanarayana Murty Bhagavatar. He has been known as Balamuralikrishna then on.
By the time he turned 15 he had mastered all the 72 melakartha ragas and had composed krithis in it. Not happy with limiting himself as a vocalist, Balamuralikrishna started playing Mridangam, Kanjira, viola and violin. He also has solo violin concerts to his credit. Balamuralikrishna has performed in over 25,000 concerts worldwide. His jugalbandi concerts with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Kishore Amonkar are fresh in the memories of many music lovers.
The credit of popularising compositions of saint poets Sri Bhadrachala Ramadasu and Sri Annamacharya goes to him. Apart from his native tongue Telugu, his contribution to other other languages have been immense. He has composed over 400 compositions in Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil with genres ranging from Devotional to Varnams, Krithis, Javalis and Thillans, in all the fundamental 72 melakartha ragas to film music.
The legend that Balamuralikrishna is, is also credited with innovating the whole Carnatic music system while maintaining its rich tradition. Ragas like Ganapathi, Sarvashri, Mahati, Lavangi etc. are credited to him.
Balamuralikrishna has been conferred with multiple award within and outside the country for his contribution to art. He has 2 national film awards, many state film awards to his credit and in 2011 was given the Global Indian Music Academy award for lifetime achievement.
Balamuralikrishna established the 'MBK Trust' with the objective of developing art and culture and for carrying out extensive research into music therapy. A dance and music school, 'Vipanchee' is a part of this Trust.