Heritage city will always remember Balamurali

Legendary Dr Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna may be no more, but the great bond that he shared with the cultural city and its artistes over the last couple of decades remains fresh in the minds of Mysureans.

The doyen of Carnatic music, Padma Vibhushan Dr Balamuralikrishna, died in Chennai on Tuesday after prolonged illness. What makes him special is his music appealed to everyone. That he could do it for decades with unparalleled distinction is what every one Mysuru is talking of.

Balamuralikrishna, born in Sankaraguptam in Andhra Pradesh, started his musical journey at a tender age of six and mastered Carnatic and Hindustani vocal music and played musical instruments like viola, violin and mridangam. He popularised Devaranamas in Kannada and he took the world of music by storm with his indomitable style.

Music exponents from all over say that the death of Balamuralikrishnan is a great loss to the field of Carnatic music. The legendary musician, who is a recipient of all three Padma awards – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri,  shared a great connection with Mysuru and many artistes from Mysuru.

Speaking to City Today, Mysore Manjunath said: “My brother Mysore Nagaraj and I were associated with Balu sir in many concerts. The life he led is the best example for not only his unbelievable music career, but his passion for music and life. The extreme intimacy that I shared with him, I can proudly say that his amazing versatility and greatness and depth of knowledge in music were exceptional. He enjoyed his music and there is no one to match him in this field.”

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“He also has a great connection with Mysuru and his association with the city started in the early 50s. He never missed an opportunity to perform at concerts organised in the city and would perform at least one concert every year in the city. He has given concerts at the famous Mysuru Palace many a time, as well as at Suttur Mutt and Sacchidananda Ashram. He never missed to pay a visit to our house whenever he was in Mysuru, but prolonged illness didn’t permit him to visit the city from past few years,” he added.

Manjunath started accompanying Balamuralikrishna when he was just 16 and had impressed Balamurali in his very first concert. Manjunath and Nagaraj have paired with Balamurali from past three – four decades and have performed in many concerts held in US, UK and in almost all cities of India.

“I still remember the special vocal-violin jugalbandi concerts for festival of India held in UK and at Congregational church concert in Portland where we presented a jugalbandi with Balu sir. He always tried to popularise our music across the country,” said Manjunath.

“Balamuralikrishna always tried to create new ragas and never feared to experiment, but a few traditional conservative Vidwans had opposed his creation of new ragas and experiments which even made him to appear in courts,” he added.

Speaking to City Today, Vidwan H L Shivashankaraswamy said: “I played mridangam for Balu sir during his last concert in Mysuru in the year 2011. It’s a great loss.  He always came forward to experiment with new generation. His death has saddened musicians and music lovers all across the country.”

-By Karthik K K

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