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

From child prodigy to a worshipped musician: The end of an era

CHENNAI: As one steps into Kanagasri Nagar, a faint sound from M. Balamuralikrishna recital of Vishnu Sahasranamam lingered around his residence. Inside, wrapped in an off-white silk dhoti, his body was laid for people to pay last respects. After he had a cup of coffee in the afternoon, he passed away in his sleep around 3.30 p.m., one of his relatives said.

Music director Ilayaraja, for whom Balamuralikrishna sang the all-time favourite ‘Chinna kannan azhaikiraan’, said, “There can never be another Balamuralikrishna in this world.”

The credit of bringing Melakartha ragas to common man goes to this legend, actor S.Ve. Shekher said. “Forty years back, when he did a 75-week show on Melakartha ragas, I had the opportunity to record it. There was a time when it seemed carnatic muscians cannot make it big in cinema; he sang ‘Oru naal pothuma and that changed everything,” he said.

Musician T.M. Krishna spoke of the research that the icon of carnatic music had done but seldom talked about. “He has read a lot about treatises and other old things. I even had a chat with him about his research. He enjoyed his life to the fullest and also was someone who never judged anyone,” he added.

Recollecting his 60-year-old association with the legend, Mridangam exponent Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman spoke how both of them admired each other’s work. “During one of the concerts, he sang his composition ‘Brihadeeshwara Mahadeva and I accompanied him; after the concert, he generously praised me for the way I played. He is an excellent orator, thinker and a composer,” he said.

Actor Sivakumar said he has been a celebrated musician of the century and his loss is irreparable.

Musician Sudha Ragunathan remembered of the time when she sang along with him for Bharat Sangeet Utsav concert. There weren’t any rehearsals or practice sessions, she recollected. “He said we would manage and be just fine. He would be ok to sing in any pitch; I would onder how can anyone be like this,” she said. She said she met him last on his birthday few months ago and sang for half hour. “I should have visited him after that. We keep thinking people will continue to be with us and take them for granted. But then this happened,” she added.

MDMK leader Vaiko and CPI (M) secretary G. Ramakrishnan were among those who paid last respects.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 11:25:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/From-child-prodigy-to-a-worshipped-musician-The-end-of-an-era/article16684403.ece

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