For those who grew up in the 1980s, especially those who were not well-versed with Indian classical music, Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna was the singer who in just 30 seconds sang a taan in the iconic song Mile Sur Mera Tumhara that was as visually evocative as it was musically perfect.
With the passing away of the legendary singer at the age of 86 in Chennai, Carnatic music has lost one of its premier scholars, who with his unique versatility endeared himself to not only connoisseurs but laymen alike. Padma Vibhushan Balamuralikrishna was a self-proclaimed life-long student, who inspired thousands across the world and whose mellifluous voice traversed the range of three octaves with deceptive ease.
There is hardly a segment of music that the child prodigy — who had mastered all 72 melakartha ragas at the tender age of 15 — has not contributed to. In a career spanning almost his entire lifetime, Balamurakrishna is known to have over 400 compositions under his belt, acquired expertise over several instruments such as the violin, viola, kanjira, veena and mridangam, sung in many languages (including French), composed music for films and even acted!
The music scholar was also working extensively in the field of music therapy and played a huge role in popularising the idea in southern India. A tremendous inspiration to generations of Indian musicians, Balamuralikrishna used his clout to foster his skills and establish music institutions, including the Switzerland-based Academy of Performing Arts and Research.
Though, it’s impossible to even try and encompass the legend’s oeuvre in just a handful of songs, but listening to his music is the best way to pay one’s respects. Here are five songs sung/composed by the maestro.
The ever-popular Ek Sur, aka Mile Sur Mera Tumhara
A jugalbandi with Vidushi Kishori Amonkar in Raag Punya Dhanashree
5 Thyagaraja Pancharatna kritis
TM Krishna sings Omkara Karini, a composition by M Balamuralikrishna in Raga Lavangi
6 thillanas by Balamuralikrishna
Which is your favourite composition by the maestro? Tell us in the comments below.