Balamuralikrishna (1930-2016): An Ode to a maestro

Balamurali, a legend, who created ragas with three swaras

CHENNAI: Students, musicians and rasikas paid tribute to the musical genius of M. Balamurakrishna, who died on Wednesday. A legend who had created ragas with just three and four swaras and had set a record of releasing the most number of music cassettes, he had enough love and affection to share with everyone he knew and interacted with.

A long-time student and musician Rama Varma said his equation has changed because of his association with his guru. “We keep hearing about Thyagaraja and Swathi Thirunal, they were vageyakaras, I got a glimpse of what they might have been from Sir. When you are with a musician, a composer, an interpreter, an instrumentalist and innovator also for 18 plus years, your perspective of music changes,” he said.

On his fabulous thillanas (Balamurali wanted to be known more as a composer than as a musician), Mr. Varma said, “you cannot compare his thillanas with any others. I have had the privilege of learning it from him and have made my students and their students sing them to him. And he has said this is how the thillanas are to be sung,” recalled the royal, who was more than just a student to Balamuralikrishna.

“We have lost the Kalidasa or Kamban of today’s music world. Like they live on through their works, he will live forever through his recordings, thankfully we have many of them. His compositions, especially for for dance are as brilliant as other creations. I was perhaps the first dancer to perform a whole evening of his compositions way back in 1970s,” said Bharathanatyam dancer Padma Subrahmanyam.

Limca Record for albums

Having recorded over 200 albums of classical, devotional and bhaava geethe (light music) with Sangeetha - The Master Recording Company, not once has he listened to the recordings in the studio, said H.M. Mahesh, who first recorded Balamuralikrishna in 1981. “We, my brother H.M.Krishna, and I would record him as and when we could. So much so that the Limca Book of Records recognised the achievement of his having released many cassettes. “If any rasika had requested any song, we would inform him and ask that he sing it during the next recording. But without notes or any practice he would record it that very day,” Mr. Mahesh said.

K. Krishnakumar, who has learnt under him for nearly 30 years now, recalled how he was an embodiment of music and love and he would share whatever he knew with students. “He used to do vidya dhaanam. I consider myself very lucky to have sung with him,” he said.

Musician K.N.Sashikiran said he cannot forget the moment when at Cleveland he performed at a Carnatic- Jazz concert with American Jazz artistes Prof Mark Stone and others. “He was supposed to be a guest star singer but he opted to spend over four hours during the rehearsals. He was extremely a free thinking musician with modern views ,” he said.

Renowned Carnatic vocalist Sudha Raghunathan said she was fortunate to have been able to interact with this legend on several occasions. “Equipped with a voice that listened to everyone of his commands, his manodharma brought a very special flavour to his musical expressions and flowed like liquid gold studded with ragas and swaras,” she said.

He was my Guru,” said O.S. Arun remembering M. Balamuralikrishna. “He was not only a great musician but also magnanimous and a generous human being. His demise came as a shock. But his music will live on forever,” he said.

Entharo Mahanubhavulu

Singer K.S. Chithra posted on her Facebook Page that the world of music had been "Orphaned" and that India had lost one of the greatest musicians. Referring to him as an 'Ocean of music', Ms Chithra said "What shall I say other than 'Entharo Mahanubhavalu'.”

Ramkumar Mohan from Trichur brothers recalled an incident where the late singer had a bad throat before a performance but went on and left the audience spellbound music. "This happened three years ago, he was to perform for a large audience. He had a cough and we were quite worried about him. But on stage he sang in three octaves effortlessly. Such was his talent and versatility,” said Ramkumar.

(Reporting by Poorvaja Sundar, R. Aditi)

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 5:08:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Balamurali-a-legend-who-created-ragas-with-three-swaras/article16684399.ece

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