Murali Krishna was born in the hamlet of Sankaraguptam in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh on July 6, 1930, to musically inclined parents—his father Pattabhiramayya was a famous flutist and a music teacher while his mother, Suryakanthama, who passed away when he was still an infant, was proficient in the veena—the young boy’s musical education began under the tutelage of Gayaka Sarvabhauma’ Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu.
He gave his first performance at the age of eight in Vijayawada, “Though the allotted time was thirty minutes, the concert crossed three hours. The audience was unaware of the passage of time,” says Sundaram in that same article.
It was Harikatha performer Musunuri Suryanarayana Murty Bhagavatar, who attended that concert who gave Murali Krishna, the prefix “Bala” and he was henceforth called Balamuralikrishna.
The child prodigy soon dropped out of school to pursue music. And he never looked back.
The years that ensued saw him mastering numerous musical instruments including the kanjira, mridangam and violin, giving thousands of concerts around the world, rendering light music and film songs with aplomb, even acting as Narada in the 1967 film, Bhakta Prahlada.
One of the most famous names associated with Classical Carnatic Music is that of Dr. Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna. This legendary musician was also an able composer, playback singer, poet, actor and multi-instrumentalist. Apart from working with famous Indian musicians like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Kishori Amonkar, he also worked with several foreign musicians. Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna performed all over the world including countries like US, UK, France, Russia, Canada, Italy, Singapore and Malaysia among many other nations. Apart from having a successful career as a Carnatic musician, Balamuralikrishna also dominated the South Indian filmdom for many years. He is also credited for having created many ragas and talas and that puts him in a league of his own.
He passed away on November 22, 2016.
Dr. Balamuralikrishna usually created ragas with four or three notes and then would compose tunes based on those ragas. He also has a rare distinction of composing tunes with all the 72 Melakarta ragas. Some of the talas that he invented include Trimukhi, Panchamukhi, Saptamukhi and Navamukhi.
Dr. Balamuralikrishna made immense contribution to the world of Carnatic music. He was not content with the fame and recognition that he gained by performing in concerts. So, he composed a detailed work known as ‘Raganga Ravali’ on 72 Melakarta. Balamuralikrishna also has over 400 compositions in different musical scales to his credit that are widely accepted by music lovers and critics alike. Out of all his impressive contributions, the creation of new ragas would stand out for years to come, for creating ragas is a whole new ball game. Some of the ragas that he came up with include ‘Mahati’, ‘Sumukham’, ‘Trisakthi’, ‘Omkaari’, ‘Janasammodini’, ‘Manorama’, ‘Rohini’, ‘Vallabhi’, ‘Lavangi’, ‘Pratimadhyamavathi’, ‘Sushama’ and ‘Murali’ among many other ragas.
Awards and Achievements
Dr. Balamuralikrishna was honored with a host of awards for his contribution in the field of classical music. Some of the most important awards are listed below:
- Padma Vibhushan – He won the country’s second highest civilian award in the year 1991.
- Padma Shri – In 1971, he was honored with India’s fourth highest civilian award.
- Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres – This civilian award was bestowed on him by the French government. It was given to him in the year 2005.
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award – In 1975, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama honored him with this prestigious award.
- Sangeetha Kalanidhi–In the year 1978, the Madras Music Academy honored him with this prestigious title.
- Sangeetha Kalasikhamani – This title was bestowed on him by The Fine Arts Society, Chennai in the year 1991.
- Lifetime Achievement Award – He was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the Global Indian Music Academy Awards in 2011.
- Doctor of Letters – This was given to him in the year 1981by Shri Venkateshwara University.
- Mahatma Gandhi Silver Medal – UNESCO honored him with this award in the year 1995.
- Natya Kalasikhamani – The title Natya Kalasikhamani was conferred to him by The Fine Arts Society, Chennai in the year 2001.
- Sangeetha Virinchi – This title was given to him by Sangeetha Bharathi music School, Auckland, New Zealand in the year 2009.
- First Citizen Award – This award was bestowed on him by the government of Andhra Pradesh.
- National Film Awards – He won two National Film Awards. The first award came in the year 1987 when he won it under the Best Male Playback Singer category for the Kannada movie ‘Hamsageethe’, while the second came in the year 1986 when he won it under the Best Music Direction category for the Kannada movie ‘Madhvacharya’.
- Kerala State Film Award–The government of Kerala bestowed on him two state awards. In 1987, he was adjudged the best singer for the movie ‘SwathiThirunal’, while in 2010 he was adjudged the best classical music singer for the movie ‘Gramam’.
- Tamil Nadu State Film Award – The government of Tamil Nadu too, honored him with a state award. In the year 2009, he won the Best Male Playback Singeraward for his soulful rendition in the movie ‘Pasanga’.