Carnatic musician, violinist, veena player, playback singer, actor Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna (1930 – 2016) is a multi-faceted genius, but this post is only about the composer in him.
The young Balamurali Krishna started his music training under his father Pattabiramayya. Then he went to learn from Parupalli Ramakrishna Pantulu and took music full time from the age of 15.
Apart from composing varnams, thillanas, krithis in languages including Sanskrit, tamil and Telugu, Sri Balamurali also invented ragas and thalas, and also composed songs in them. Some of his ragas had the most unconventional combination of only 4 (Mahathi, Lavangi) or 3 (Trisakthi) swaras in the raga, when the traditional ragas had 7 / 6 / 5 swara scale at least.
He has to his credit, over 400 compositions; he has composed in every melakartha raga; and I would like to list a few interesting compositions here.
- Chalamu chesina varnam in Ramapriya
- Gana sudha rasa in Nattai
- Gana sudha rasame in Ragavardini
- Uma Sutham Namaami in Trisakthi (own raga)
- Omkara Kaarini in Lavangi (own raga)
- Varuga varuga in Pantuvarali
- Bruhadeeshwara Mahadeva in Kaanada
- Dhimnanana Thillana in Brindavani
I think a musician will be able to do a full fledged concert just with a set of songs like the above list.
The signature (mudhra) in his compositions was Murali… narcissism probably 😉
Since I said this post is about Balamurali’s composing skills, let’s not leave out film music composing. He has got a national award as best music director for the film Madhvacharya (1986).
Listen to… Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana singing Balamurali’s composition ‘Bruhadeeshwara Mahadeva’ in ragam Kaanada. The interesting thing is Balamurali himself is playing the viola for this particular concert / recording.
Disciples – Aswati Tirunal Prince Rama Verma
As an ending note, I wanted to highlight this. Balamurali was once asked what he cherished most about his life. He replied, “it was the pleasure of seeing his compositions sung by others in his lifetime, an honour that was not given to the great composers of yore, such as Thyagaraja or Purandara Dasar.” That was the essence of the man, proud and happy.
Sources: Wikipedia, The Hindu, Devanin Kaivannam