24 Nov 2016: Legendary maestro Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna breathes his last

Legendary music maestro Dr Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna left for the heavenly abode on November 22, 2016 at his Chennai residence. He was 86. He was born on July 6, 1930 at Sankaraguptam village in the sylvan Konaseema area of East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh.

An endearing and charismatic personality with a sweet, impish and disarming smile, he was a child prodigy who debuted with his first concert when he was 8. A singer with a unique tone, tenor and timbre, he performed in a phenomenal 25,000 concerts, and regaled the audience all over the world almost until his last breath.

In main a Carnatic maestro – singer and composer – he was equally proficient in the Hindustani tradition of classical music. An ace vocalist not only in Telugu his mother tongue but also in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Sanskrit, he also played on mridangam, veena, violin and kanjeera. In the line of Vaggeyakaras like Annamaiah, Ramadasa and Tyagaraja, Syama Sastry and Muthuswami Deekshitar, he was a composer too, with as many as 400 classical songs (kirtanas/kritis) to his credit, singing and composing in all the 72 melakartha (basic) ragas.

His exploratory and innovative spirit made him experiment and an inimitable blend of the ancient and the modern. This spirit saw him perform Jugalbandis with leading Hindustani maestros like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Kishori Amonkar.

His multifarious tastes saw him amble into the film field, occasionally though but leaving his impress, where he showed his mettle as a playback singer, actor and music director.

He was the recipient of a host of prestigious awards including Padma Vibhushan – the second highest civilian honour by Government of India, and the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France.

Balamurali spent considerable time at Vijayawada where he learnt music, gave concerts in the All India Radio (AIR), and served as Principal of Government Music College.

With his mother passing away when he was just 14 days old, he looked upon Goddess Kanaka Durga of Vijayawada as his mother, and regularly visited her temple. Later on he settled down in Chennai.

This legendary maestro had stirred the hearts of millions – both the elite and the proletariat – but both the Telugu states could not, unfortunately, be stirred into according Balamurali a state funeral or at least a deserving official homage befitting his towering accomplishments and status.

Muse India pays it heartfelt homage to the legend Dr Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna who is sure to influence generations of singers, musicians and music lovers in the times to come.

Report by: U Atreya Sarma, Hyderabad, Nov 24, 2016

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