One of Carnatic music's most celebrated artistes, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna passed away on November 22 evening at his home in Chennai. He was 86.
His family said that the maestro, who has been leading a quiet life for some years now had had a cup of coffee and rested and that he passed away in his sleep.
The news of Balamuralikrishna's passing spread fast and as dusk fell, a stream of artistes from the classical music and dance world, from the film world and his well-wishers were seen at the maestro's residence which is in a colony located off Cathedral Road, close to The Music Academy campus.
Balamuralikrishna was an artiste who appealed to people across the spectrum; that is because he left a deep imprint with his music in the classical, film and social music world. An imprint that was created with his deep knowledge and amazing artistry.
Born in East Godavari district of the then Madras Presidency in 1930, Balamuralikrishna's father, Pattabiramaiah was a musician and his mother, Sooryakanthamma was a veena player. So music was part of the child's life from the time he was in the cradle - he was soon to show the world that he was a child prodigy.
He gave his first concert when he was nine year old. All India Radio (AIR), Chennai, included him in the list of A-grade artistes even when Balamuralikrishna was still a teenager - such was the level of his music.
Even as he went on to establish himself as a highly talented Carnatic music artiste after settling in Madras ( Chennai), he got a call from the world of cinema - first to be an actor, and then to be a playback singer and a film music composer-director.
The classical music-ladden film songs he composed or sung brought his a new and vast following of rasikas who still remember his songs that have remained evergreen.
Balamuralikrishna was also a prodigious composer, composing songs on the go and songs that carried his imprint - one who created ragas with just a few swaras. And whose thillanas amazed rasikas and dancers who choreographed pieces set to his music.
He had a mind of his own and expressed himself freely when he was invited to share his thoughts and ideas. And he was a warm and open-hearted artiste, welcoming all those who wished to learn from him, be his sishyas, or share thoughts and ideas.
He won many national awards - for best playback singer and best music director. He was awarded the prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi award of The Music Academy, was decorated by France with the prestigious Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
He was also decorated with all three Padma awards by the country - Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
A few years ago, this maestro quit his busy performance career and restricted his participation in events of the performing arts world. But he always had the door open to artistes, rasikas and well-wishers.