M. Balamuralikrishna

Pandit Ji at Rajarani Music Festival, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
Background information
Birth name Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna
Born (1930-07-06)6 July 1930
Sankaraguptam, East Godavari District,
Madras Presidency, British India (now part of Andhra Pradesh, India)
Died 22 November 2016(2016-11-22) (aged 86)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Genres Carnatic music
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Viola
Years active 1938–2016

Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna (6 July 1930 – 22 November 2016) was an Indian Carnatic vocalist, musician, multi-instrumentalist, playback singer, composer, and character actor.[1][2] He was awarded the Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1978. He has garnered two National Film Awards (1976, 1987), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1975, the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honor in 1991, for his contribution towards arts, the Mahatma Gandhi Silver Medal from UNESCO in 1995, the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 2005, the Sangeetha Kalanidhi by Madras Music Academy, and the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani in 1991, by the Fine Arts Society, Chennai to name a few.[3]

Balamuralikrishna started his career at the age of six. Up to the present time, he has given over 25,000 concerts worldwide.[4] He accompanied Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, and gave jugalbandi concerts with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia , Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and Kishori Amonkar, among others. He is also known for popularizing the compositions of Sri Bhadrachala Ramadasu and Sri Annamacharya. Balamuralikrishna's concerts combine sophisticated vocal skills and rhythmic patterns of classical music with the popular demand for entertainment value. Balamuralikrishna has been invited to give concerts in many countries, including the US, Canada, UK, Italy, France, Russia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East and many more. Apart from his native tongue, Telugu, his works also include ones in other languages like Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi.[5]

He appeared as featured soloist with an award-winning British choir, performing the "Gitanjali Suite" with words from Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel Prize-winning poetry and music by "Dr. Joel", the noted UK-based Goan composer. His clear diction in several languages prompted an invitation to record Tagore's entire Rabindra Sangeet compositions in Bengali, preserving them for posterity. He has sung in French, and even ventured into jazz fusion, collaborating with the top Carnatic percussion teacher, Sri T.H. Subash Chandran, in a concert for Malaysian royalty. In February 2010, he did a three-day concert in Visakhapatnam.[2]

Early life

Balamuralikrishna was born in Sankaraguptam, East Godavari District, Madras Presidency (now a part of Andhra Pradesh state).[6] His father was a well known musician and his mother was a veena player. Balamuralikrishna's mother died when he was an infant and he was raised by his father. Observing his interest in music, his father put him under the tutelage of Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu, a direct descendant of the shishya parampara of Tyagaraja.[7] Under his guidance, the young Balamuralikrishna learned Carnatic music. At the age of eight, he gave his first full-fledged concert at a Thyagaraja Aradhana in Vijayawada. Musunuri Suryanarayana Murty Bhagavatar, a Harikatha performer, saw the musical talent in him and gave the prefix "Bala" (lit. child) to the young Balamuralikrishna.[8]

Balamuralikrishna thus began his musical career at a very young age. By the age of fifteen he had mastered all the 72 melakartha ragas and had composed krithis in the same. The Janaka Raga Manjari was published in 1952 and recorded as Raagaanga Ravali in a nine-volume series by the Sangeeta Recording Company.[9] Not merely content with his fame as a Carnatic vocalist, very soon started playing the kanjira, mridangam, viola and violin. He also accompanied various musicians in violin and is also noted to give solo viola concerts.


Characteristic of Balamuralikrishna's musical journey has been his non-conformism, spirit of experimentation and boundless creativity. Balamuralikrishna has experimented with Carnatic music system by keeping its rich tradition untouched. The ragas like Ganapathi, Sarvashri, Mahati, Lavangi etc. are credited to him. The ragas which he invented represent his quest for new frontiers. Ragas like Lavangi are set to three or four notes in ascending and descending scale.[9] Ragaas created by him, like Mahathi, Lavangi, Sidhdhi, Sumukham have only four notes; while Ragaas created by him, like Sarva Sri, Omkaari, Ganapathy have only three notes.[10]

He also innovated the tala system. He has incorporated "gati bhEdam" (గతి భేదం) in the "sashabda kriya" (సశబ్ద క్రియ) (actions in Talas, which can produce sound/shabda (శబ్ద) are called sashabda kriya - సశబ్ద క్రియ) part of the existing Tala chain, thus throwing open a new chain of Tala system. Saint Arunagirinaadhar used to inject such systems in his famous Thirupugazh, but only as Sandham, while Balamuralikrishna is known to be the pioneer in bringing such Sandhams into a logical rhythm, with Angam and definition. Thri Mukhi, Panchamukhi, Saptha Mukhi and Nava Mukhi are the basic classifications, he has named for his New Tala System.[11] He gave his authorisation to S. Ram Bharati to found "Academy of Performing Arts and Research" in Switzerland and is also working on music therapy. He established the 'MBK Trust' with the objective of developing art and culture and for carrying out extensive research into music therapy. A dance and music school, 'Vipanchee' is a part of this Trust.[12][10]


Balamuralikrishna has over 400 compositions to his credit and is one of the very few people to have composed in all the 72 Melakarta Ragas and has created several ragas, with 4 notes and 3 notes and also has invented a new Tala system. His compositions encompass every facet in Carnatic Music that includes Varnas, Krithis, Thillanas, Bhavageethas.[13]


Balamuralikrishna has sung in several films in Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada and Tamil.[14] He made his acting debut with the Telugu film Bhakta Prahlada (1967) as Narada, and has acted in few films in Telugu and Tamil.[11][15]


Balamuralikrishna died at his residence in Chennai on 22 November 2016; he was 86.[16] His end came in deep sleep at around five in the evening, due to a cardiac arrest. He was cremated with full state honours at Besant Nagar Crematorium in Chennai the very next day. Thousands attended his funeral. He is survived by his three daughters, and three sons who are all Doctors.[17] His wife Annapurna also outlived him for three months, and died on 16 February 2017.

Awards and honours

Civilian honours

National Film Awards (India)

Kerala State Film Award

Tamil Nadu State Film Award

Other honours

A documentary film, The Melody Man, was made on his life by the Government of India Films Division. The film was directed by National award winner Director Gul Bahar Singh.

Ragas Created

LavangiArohanam: S R1 M1 D1 S Avarohanam: S D1 M1 R1 S
Sarvasri (Trisakthi)Renamed to Trisakthi
Mohana GandhiCreated in honor of Mahatma Gandhi
Pushkara GodavariOn the occasion of Godavari Pushakaras
Jaya Jaya LalitheIn honor of Tamilnadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha

Talas Created


Selected compositions

Omkaara PranavaShanmukhapriyaPada Varnam
Amma Anandha dayiniGambhiranataPada Varnam
Ye NaadhamuNaataVarnam
Chalamu ChaesinaRamapriyaVarnam
Aapaala GopaalamuAmritavarshiniVarnam
Ninu Nera NammithiKharaharapriyaVarnam
Sri Sakala Ganadhipa PalayamamAarabhiKritiThree Pallavis on Ganapathy, Maaruthi and Krishna
MahadevasuthamAarabhiKrition Ganapathy
Gam Gam GanapathimGanapathiKrition Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ga Pa
GanaadhipamNattaiKrition Ganapathi
Pirai Aniyum PerumaanHamsadhvaniKrition Ganapathi
Uma Sutham NamaamiSarvasriKrition Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ma Pa
Mahaneeya NamasulivaeSumukhamKrition Ganapathi-Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Ma Ni
Omkara kariniLavangiKritiTetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Ma Dha
Sidhdhi NaayakenaAmritavarshiniKrition Ganapathi
Sidhdhim Dhehi MaeSidhdhiKrition Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Dha
Heera GanapathikiSuratiKritiOn Ganapathi
Mahaneeya Madhura MoorthaeMahathiKritiGuru Vandhanam-Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ga PA Ni
Guruni SmarimpumoHamsavinodhiniKritiGuru Vandhanam
Varuha VaruhaPanthuvaraaliKrition Muruha
Thunai NeeyaeCharukesiKrition Muruha
Nee Dhaya RaadhaPoorvikalyaniKrition Ambika
Gathi NeeveKalyaniKrition Ambika
Siva GangaNagasvaravaliKrition Ambika
Maa MaaniniThodiKrition Ambika-Swara Saahithyam
Amma NinukoriKamasKrition Ambika
Gaana MaalinchiKalyanavasantamKrition Ambika
Sadhaa Thava PaadhaShanmukhapriyaKrition Siva
BruhadheeswaraKaanadaKrition Tanjore Bruhadheeswara
Thripura TharpaMangalam on Siva
Kamala DhalaayathaBahudariKrition Nethra Soundharya
ThillanaBrundhaavaniThillanaTelugu Charanam
ThillanaDhwijaawanthiThillanaTamil Charanam
ThillanaKunthalvaraaliThillanaTamil and Telugu Charanam
ThillanaGarudadhvaniThillanaPaanini Sutra Reference,
ThillanaBehagThillanaOn Sri Thyagaraja
ThillanaRagamalikaThillanaAmruthavarshini, Mohanam, Kannada and Hindolam
ThillanaRagamalikaThillanaTaaya Ragamaalika, Based on Sruthi Bhedam
ThillanaRagamalikaThillanaPancha "Priya" Raagas, with Gathi Bhedam
Maamava Gaana LolaRohiniKritiRagam using two Madhyamas
Gaana LolaRagamalikaKritiOn Thirupathi Venkateswara
SangeethamaeKalyaniKritiAbout Music
Nee Saati NeevaeChandrikaKrition Ranga,
Sankarabharana SayanudaSankarabharanamKrition Ranga
VegamaeAbhogiKrition Ranga
HanumaSarasangiKrition Hanuman
Vandhe MaatharamRanjaniKrition Bharatham
Gaana Sudha RasaNaattaiKrition Sri Thyagaraja
Sama GanaAmritavarshiniKrition Sri Thyagaraja
Maragatha SimhasanaSimhendra MadhyamamKrition Yadhagiri Narasimha
Simha Rupa DhevaKambhojiKrition Narasimha
Raja RajaSankarabharanamKrition Sri Raghavendhra
Chintayami satatam Sri Muttuswami DikshitamSucharitraKrition Muttuswami Dikshitar
AmbamamavaRagamalikaKritiRanjani-Niranjani – Janaranjani
Bangaaru Murali Sringaara RavaliNeelambariKritiUdupi Sree Krishna
Bhaavame Mahaa BhaagyamuraKapiKritiSri Thyagaraja to Balamuralikrishna-Guru Parampara
Paahi Sameera KumaaraMandariKritidescription of Panchamukha Hanuman
VasamaDharmavathiKritiprayer on Lalita Devi

Film compositions

Balamuralikrishna acted in few films and gave his voice to some selected songs in Indian cinema.

1957Sati SavitriTeluguSong: Oho Ho Vilasala
1959JayabheriTeluguSuklaam Brahma Vichaara Saara Paramaam (Sloka)
1963KarnaTeluguSong: Neevu Nenu Valachitimi Nandaname Eduruga Nilichitimi
1963NartanasalaTeluguSong: Salalitha Raga Sudharasa Saaram
1965Dorikite DongaluTeluguSong: Tirupativasa Srivenkatesa
1965Kalai KovilTamilSong: Thanga Radham Vandhadhu
1965Uyyala JampalaTeluguEtiloni keratalu
1965ThiruvilayadalTamilSong: Oru Naal Pothuma
1966Palnati YudhamTeluguSinger: Seelamu Galavari Chinavada
1966Srikakula Andhra Mahavishnu KathaTeluguSinger: Vasanta Gaaliki Valapulu rega
1966Sadhu MirandalTamilSinger: Arulvaaye Nee Arulvaaye
1967Bhakta PrahladaTeluguActed as Narada
Song: Aadi Anaadiyu Neeve Deva Narada Sannuta Narayana,
Siri Siri Laali Chinnari Laali,
Varamosage Vanamali Naa Vanchitammu Neraverunuga
1968KodungalloorammaMalayalamSongs: Kodungallooramme
1970KanmalarTamilSong: Odhuvaar Un Peyar
Song: Ambalathu Nadaraja
1973Andala RamuduTeluguSong: Paluke Banagamayera Andala Rama
1974Sree Rama Anjaneya YuddhamTeluguSong: Meluko Srirama Meluko Raghurama
Karunalola Narayana Sritajanapala Deenavana
1975HamsageetheKannadaMusic director and Singer
1975Muthyala MugguTeluguSong: Srirama Jayarama Seetarama
1977KurukshetramTeluguSong: Kuppinchi Egasina Kundalambula Kanthi (Padyam)
1977KavikkuyilTamilSong: Chinna Kannan Azhaikkiraan
1977NavarathinamTamilSong: Kuruvikkara Machane
1979Guppedu ManasuTeluguSong: Mauname Nee Bhasha O Mooga Manasa
1979Nool VeliTamilSong: Mounathil Vilayadum
1982Ente Mohangal PoovaninjuMalayalamSong:
1983Adi ShankaracharyaSanskritMusic director
1983MeghasandesamTeluguSong: Paadana Vani Kalyaniga
1983Miruthanga ChakravarthiTamilSong: Idhu ketka thigatttatha Gaanam
1986MadhvacharyaKannadaMusic director and Singer
1987Swathi ThirunalMalayalamSong: Moksha Mukalada
Winner, Kerala State Film Award for Best Singer
1990Muthina HaaraKannadaSong: Devaru Hoseda Premada Daara
1991BharathamMalayalamSong: "Raajamathangi" ("Dhwani prasadham")
1993Bhagvad GitaSanskritMusic director
1994Indhu/PattasuTamilSong: Nagumo
1997Priyamaina SrivaaruTeluguSong: Jatakalu Kalisevela Jeevitalu Mugisaayi
2009Pasanga TamilSong: Anbaley Azhgagum Veedu
2015"Prabha"TamilSong: "Poove Pesum Poove " (Music Director - S. J. Jananiy)


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