M. Balamuralikrishna

  (Redirected from Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna)

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]

Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna
Balamuralikrishna at Rajarani Music Festival, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
Balamuralikrishna at Rajarani Music Festival, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
Background information
Birth nameMangalampalli Balamuralikrishna
Born(1930-07-06)6 July 1930
Sankaraguptam, East Godavari District,
Madras Presidency, British India (now part of Andhra Pradesh, India)
Died22 November 2016(2016-11-22) (aged 86)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
GenresCarnatic music
Years active1938–2016

Balamuralikrishna started his career at the age of six. In his life-time, he gave over 25,000 concerts worldwide.[4] Apart from Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, he presented jugalbandi concerts (duets) with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and Kishori Amonkar, among others. He is also known for popularizing the compositions of Sri Bhadrachala Ramadasu, Sri Annamacharya, and others.

Balamuralikrishna's concerts combined sophisticated vocal skills and rhythmic patterns of classical music with the popular demand for entertainment value. Balamuralikrishna presented concerts in many countries, including the US, Canada, UK, Italy, France, Russia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, countries in the Middle East, and elsewhere. Apart from his native tongue, Telugu, he has also composed in other languages including Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi.[5]

He appeared as a 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 had 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.

Early lifeEdit

M. Balamuralikrishna during Rajarani Music Festival at Bhubaneswar on 19 January 2013

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 (lineage of disciples) 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] (Prior to this, his name was Muralikrishna; following Bhagavatar's addition of the prefix, he began to be known as Balamuralikrishna.)

Having begun his musical career at a very young age, by age fifteen he had mastered all the 72 melakartha ragas and had composed krithis in each of them. His 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, he also played the kanjira, mridangam, viola, and violin.[10][11][12] He accompanied various musicians on the violin. He also presented solo viola concerts.He was the person who introduced viola to classical Indian music. [13][14]


Balamuralikrishna performs in 2005

Characteristic of Balamuralikrishna's musical journey have been his non-conformism, spirit of experimentation, and boundless creativity. Balamuralikrishna has experimented with the Carnatic music system by keeping its rich tradition untouched. Ragas such as Ganapathi, Sarvashri, Mahati, Lavangi etc. are credited to him. The ragas which he invented represent his quest for new frontiers. Ragas such as Lavangi are set to three or four notes in ascending and descending scale.[9] Ragas such as Mahathi, Lavangi, Sidhdhi, Sumukham that he created have only four notes; while his other ragaa creations such as Sarva Sri, Omkaari, and Ganapathy have only three notes.[15]

He also innovated in the tala (rhythm) system. He has incorporated "gati bhEdam" (గతి భేదం) in the "sashabda kriya" (సశబ్ద క్రియ). Actions that can produce sound/shabda (శబ్ద) in talas are called sashabda kriya - సశబ్ద క్రియ and are a part of the existing Tala chain. New chains are possible, too. 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. Trimukhi, Panchamukhi, Saptamukhi, and Navamukhi are the basic classifications in his New Tala System.[16]

He gave his authorisation to S. Ram Bharati to found "Academy of Performing Arts and Research" in Switzerland. He also worked 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.[17][15] He has authored a musical therapy research paper with Shreya Kappagantula regarding the "The Effects of Musical Therapy on Mental Disorders"


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 genre in Carnatic Music including Varnas, Krithis, Thillanas, Bhavageethas.[18]


Balamuralikrishna during a concert in Kuwait on 29 March 2006, accompanied by Mavelikkara Sathees Chandran (violin), Perunna G. Harikumar (mridangom), Manjoor Unnikrishnan (ghatam)
Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna and Ravi Joshi, during a concert in San Francisco, California, April 2014

Balamuralikrishna has sung in several films in Telugu, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil.[19] He made his acting debut with the Telugu film Bhakta Prahlada (1967) as Narada, and has acted in a few other films in Telugu and Tamil.[16][20]


Balamuralikrishna passed away at his residence in Chennai on 22 November 2016; he was 86.[21] His died 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 three daughters and three sons who are all Doctors.[22] His wife, Smt. Annapurna, outlived him for three months, and died on 16 February 2017.


His family has formed the Dr. M. Balamurali Krishna Memorial Trust to represent him after his death.

Awards and honoursEdit

Civilian honoursEdit

National Film Awards (India)Edit

Kerala State Film AwardEdit

Tamil Nadu State Film AwardEdit

Other honoursEdit

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.

  • Telugu Book of Records honoured him for Telugu Legendary Personality in 2014 at Vijayawada

Ragas CreatedEdit

Ragam Scale Remarks
Ganapati Arohanam: S G2 P S

Avarohanam: S P G2 S

Lavangi Arohanam: S R1 M1 D1 S

Avarohanam: S D1 M1 R1 S

Sarvasri (Trisakthi) Arohanam: S M1 P S

Avarohanam: S P M1 S

Renamed to Trisakthi
Mahati Arohanam: S G3 P N2 S

Avarohanam: S N2 P G3 S

Omkaari Arohanam: S P S

Avarohanam: S P S

Mohana Gandhi Created in honor of Mahatma Gandhi
Sushama Arohanam: S R2 M1 P D1 S

Avarohanam: S D1 P M1 R2 S

Pushkara Godavari Arohanam: S R2 M1 D2 S

Avarohanam: S D2 M1 R2 S

On the occasion of Godavari Pushakaras
Jaya Jaya Lalitha In honor of Tamilnadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha

Talas CreatedEdit

The 'Mukhi' Tala system builds on the traditional Adhi Tala or Chathusra Jaathi Triputa Tala ( I 0 0 ), however the first kriya or mukha (meaning face) of each anga takes the gathi of its tala name and the rest in chathusra gathi. For example: Panchamukhi - the first kriya of each anga will be in kanda gathi and so the tala consists of 35 Matras (5 + 4 + 4 + 4 | 5 + 4 | 5 + 4 || ).

Following this method, four Talas can be generated:

The Mukhi Talas
Tala Structure Matras
Trimukkhi 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 | 3 + 4 | 3 + 4 || 29
Panchamukhi 5 + 4 + 4 + 4 | 5 + 4 | 5 + 4 || 35
Sapthamukhi 7 + 4 + 4 + 4 | 7 + 4 | 7 + 4 || 41
Navamukhi 9 + 4 + 4 + 4 | 9 + 4 | 9 + 4 || 47

This scheme can be extended across all 35 sooladi thalas, however currently these four are in practice.


There have been many pallavis set to panchamukhi Tala such as 'Isai inbathirku ēdillaye ivulakil - sentamil' in ragam Lathangi composed by Amrutha Venkatesh and 'Aadi Vaa, Pirai Soodi Vaa, Aalavaai Naathane' in ragam Abheri composed by Rameshvaidya and tuned by S.J Jananiy and also others in Bilahari, Thodi and Kalyani composed by Dr. Balamuralikrishna himself.

There have also been Alarippus composed for Bharathanatyam in Panchamukhi.

Selected compositionsEdit

Composition Ragam Type Remarks
Omkaara Pranava Shanmukhapriya Pada Varnam
Amma Anandha dayini Gambhiranata Pada Varnam
Ye Naadhamu Naata Varnam
Chalamu Chaesina Ramapriya Varnam
Aapaala Gopaalamu Amritavarshini Varnam
Ninu Nera Nammithi Kharaharapriya Varnam
Sri Sakala Ganadhipa Palayamam Aarabhi Kriti Three Pallavis on Ganapathy, Maaruthi and Krishna
Mahadevasutham Aarabhi Kriti on Ganapathy
Gam Gam Ganapathim Ganapathi Kriti on Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ga Pa
Ganaadhipam Nattai Kriti on Ganapathi
Pirai Aniyum Perumaan Hamsadhvani Kriti on Ganapathi
Uma Sutham Namaami Sarvasri Kriti on Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ma Pa
Mahaneeya Namasulivae Sumukham Kriti on Ganapathi-Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Ma Ni
Omkara karini Lavangi Kriti Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Ma Dha
Sidhdhi Naayakena Amritavarshini Kriti on Ganapathi
Sidhdhim Dhehi Mae Sidhdhi Kriti on Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Dha
Heera Ganapathiki Surati Kriti On Ganapathi
Mahaneeya Madhura Moorthae Mahathi Kriti Guru Vandhanam-Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ga PA Ni
Guruni Smarimpumo Hamsavinodhini Kriti Guru Vandhanam
Varuha Varuha Panthuvaraali Kriti on Muruha
Thunai Neeyae Charukesi Kriti on Muruha
Nee Dhaya Raadha Poorvikalyani Kriti on Ambika
Gathi Neeve Kalyani Kriti on Ambika
Siva Ganga Nagasvaravali Kriti on Ambika
Maa Maanini Thodi Kriti on Ambika-Swara Saahithyam
Amma Ninukori Kamas Kriti on Ambika
Gaana Maalinchi Kalyanavasantam Kriti on Ambika
Sadhaa Thava Paadha Shanmukhapriya Kriti on Siva
Bruhadheeswara Kaanada Kriti on Tanjore Bruhadheeswara
Thripura Tharpa Mangalam on Siva
Kamala Dhalaayatha Bahudari Kriti on Nethra Soundharya
Thillana Brundhaavani Thillana Telugu Charanam
Thillana Chakravaaham Thillana
Thillana Dhwijaawanthi Thillana Tamil Charanam
Thillana Kunthalvaraali Thillana Tamil and Telugu Charanam
Thillana Kathanakuthoohalam Thillana
Thillana Garudadhvani Thillana Paanini Sutra Reference,
Thillana Behag Thillana On Sri Thyagaraja
Thillana Ragamalika Thillana Amruthavarshini, Mohanam, Kannada and Hindolam
Thillana Ragamalika Thillana Taaya Ragamaalika, Based on Sruthi Bhedam
Thillana Ragamalika Thillana Pancha "Priya" Raagas, with Gathi Bhedam
Maamava Gaana Lola Rohini Kriti Ragam using two Madhyamas
Gaana Lola Ragamalika Kriti On Thirupathi Venkateswara
Sangeethamae Kalyani Kriti About Music
Nee Saati Neevae Chandrika Kriti on Ranga,
Sankarabharana Sayanuda Sankarabharanam Kriti on Ranga
Vegamae Abhogi Kriti on Ranga
Hanuma Sarasangi Kriti on Hanuman
Vandhe Maatharam Ranjani Kriti on Bharatham
Gaana Sudha Rasa Naattai Kriti on Sri Thyagaraja
Sama Gana Amritavarshini Kriti on Sri Thyagaraja
Maragatha Simhasana Simhendra Madhyamam Kriti on Yadhagiri Narasimha
Simha Rupa Dheva Kambhoji Kriti on Narasimha
Raja Raja Sankarabharanam Kriti on Sri Raghavendhra
Chintayami satatam Sri Muttuswami Dikshitam Sucharitra Kriti on Muttuswami Dikshitar
Ambamamava Ragamalika Kriti Ranjani-Niranjani – Janaranjani
Bangaaru Murali Sringaara Ravali Neelambari Kriti Udupi Sree Krishna
Bhaavame Mahaa Bhaagyamura Kapi Kriti Sri Thyagaraja to Balamuralikrishna-Guru Parampara
Paahi Sameera Kumaara Mandari Kriti description of Panchamukha Hanuman
Vasama Dharmavathi Kriti prayer on Lalita Devi

Film compositionsEdit

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

Year Film Language Credits
1957 Sati Savitri Telugu Song: Oho Ho Vilasala
1959 Jayabheri Telugu Suklaam Brahma Vichaara Saara Paramaam (Sloka)
1963 Karna Telugu Song: Neevu Nenu Valachitimi Nandaname Eduruga Nilichitimi
1963 Nartanasala Telugu Song: Salalitha Raga Sudharasa Saaram with Bangalore Latha
1965 Dorikite Dongalu Telugu Song: Tirupativasa Srivenkatesa
1965 Kalai Kovil Tamil Song: Thanga Radham Vandhadhu
1965 Uyyala Jampala Telugu Etiloni keratalu
1965 Thiruvilayadal Tamil Song: Oru Naal Pothuma
1966 Palnati Yudham Telugu Singer: Seelamu Galavari Chinavada
1966 Srikakula Andhra Mahavishnu Katha Telugu Singer: Vasanta Gaaliki Valapulu rega
1966 Sadhu Mirandal Tamil Singer: Arulvaaye Nee Arulvaaye
1967 Bhakta Prahlada Telugu Acted as Narada
Song: Aadi Anaadiyu Neeve Deva Narada Sannuta Narayana,
Siri Siri Laali Chinnari Laali,
Varamosage Vanamali Naa Vanchitammu Neraverunuga
1968 Kodungallooramma Malayalam Songs: Kodungallooramme
1970 Kanmalar Tamil Song: Odhuvaar Un Peyar
Song: Ambalathu Nadaraja
1973 Andala Ramudu Telugu Song: Paluke Banagamayera Andala Rama
1974 Sree Rama Anjaneya Yuddham Telugu Song: Meluko Srirama Meluko Raghurama
Karunalola Narayana Sritajanapala Deenavana
1975 Hamsageethe Kannada Music director and Singer
1975 Muthyala Muggu Telugu Song: Srirama Jayarama Seetarama
1977 Kurukshetram Telugu Song: Kuppinchi Egasina Kundalambula Kanthi (Padyam)
1977 Kavikkuyil Tamil Song: Chinna Kannan Azhaikkiraan
1977 Navarathinam Tamil Song: Kuruvikkara Machane
1977 Poojakkedukkatha Pookkal Malayalam Songs: Kannante Kavilil Nin
Nabhassil Mukilinte
1979 Guppedu Manasu Telugu Song: Mauname Nee Bhasha O Mooga Manasa
1979 Nool Veli Tamil Song: Mounathil Vilayadum
1982 Ente Mohangal Poovaninju Malayalam Song:
1983 Adi Shankaracharya Sanskrit Music director
1983 Meghasandesam Telugu Song: Paadana Vani Kalyaniga
1983 Miruthanga Chakravarthi Tamil Song: Idhu ketka thigatttatha Gaanam
1986 Madhvacharya Kannada Music director and Singer
1987 Swathi Thirunal Malayalam Song: Moksha Mukalada
Winner, Kerala State Film Award for Best Singer
1990 Muthina Haara Kannada Song: Devaru Hoseda Premada Daara
1991 Bharatham Malayalam Song: "Raajamathangi" ("Dhwani prasadham")
1993 Bhagvad Gita Sanskrit Music director
1994 Indhu/Pattasu Tamil Song: Nagumo
1997 Priyamaina Srivaaru Telugu Song: Jatakalu Kalisevela Jeevitalu Mugisaayi
2009 Pasanga Tamil Song: Anbaley Azhgagum Veedu
2015 Prabha Tamil Song: "Poove Pesum Poove" (Music Director - S. J. Jananiy)


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit