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Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna passes away
CHENNAI: We regret to announce that Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, an iconic figure in the world of Carnatic music, is no more. He was 86. He breathed his last at his residence in Chennai.

Carnatic musicians and the rasikas alike are shell-shocked at the news of his demise.

The news has cast a pal of gloom across the music world. Coming as it did just a few days before the annual music season in Chennai, the passing away of one of tallest personalities among the musicians has left a huge void in the Carnatic music world.

A native of Sankaraguptan, a small village in Rojolu Taluk in the East Godavari district of Andhra Prodesh, Balamuralikrishna inherited his musical skills from his parents. His father, Pattabiramayya, was known for his proficiency in handling three Vs - venu, violin and veena. His mother, Suryakantamma, also played veena. Since his mother died when he was just 15 days old, he was raised as an infant by his maternal aunt, Subhamma. Relocating to Vijayawada at the age of two, he began to study music with his father. His father sent him to study with Parupalli Ramakrishna Pantulu.

Balamuralikrishna made his public debut when he performed during Sadguru Arandhana Utsava at the age of eight, a felicitation to Ramakrishna's guru, Sri Susarla Dakshinamoorthy, in Vijayawada. Leaving school during the sixth grade, Balamuralikrishna began to pursue music full-time.

Balamuralikrishna had worked extensively with India's radio stations. In the late '60s, he served as music producer for the Vijayawada and Hyderabad All-India radio station and launched an early morning show of devotional readings, "Bhakthi Ranjani." He also served as the principal of the Government Music College in Vijayawada. Transferring to the All-India Radio station in Madras, he settled in the city.

Awards and accolades arrived in plenty for him. These include an honorary Ph.D., D.Sc., and D.Lit. certificates from Andhra University, Jawaharial Nehru Technological University and Sri Verkateswara University, respectively. He had also got the honorary "First Citizen" award from Vijayawada. In 1978, Balamuralikrishna was conferred the prestigious Sangeetha Kalanidhi title. He was also the recipient of the "Wisdom Man of the Year" in 1992. Four years later, he was named "Naada Maharishi" by the Nrityala Aesthetics Society.

Balamuralikrishna was also equally well known in the film industry. He received a national award as "best playback singer" for his participation in the film Hamsageeth . He was also chosen as the "best music director" for the film Madhvacharya. Balamuralikrishna was instrumental in starting several institutes such as the Academy of Performing Arts and Research in Switzerland. He established the MBK Trust as a vehicle for fostering art and research in music theory. A dance and music school is operated by the MBK Trust in Vipanchee.

He had over 400 compositions in different music scales. All these accepted by music lovers and critics alike. He created many new ragas such as Mahati, Sumukham, Trisakthi, Sarvashri, Omkari, Janasamodini, Manorama, Rohini, Vallabhi, Lavangi, Pratimadhyamavathi, Sushama, et al.

Read also: The magic of Murali - A tribute to a maestro