Mangalamapalli Balamuralikrishna was a child prodigy who rose to become a musician of immense versatility in all fields and held sway over rasikas with his mesmerising voice and unique way of rendering compositions.
With a voice magnificently rich and instantly recognisable, Balamuralikrishna, who died in Chennai today at the age of 86, excelled not only as singer but left his imprint as a composer, poet, multi-instrumentalist and innovator of ragas and taalas.
Born on July 6, 1930, at Sankaraguptham in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh to musician parents Suryakantahama and Pattabiramaiah, he took the musical plunge at the tender age of six and became a composer when he was just 15.
Initially christened 'Muralikrishna,' he earned his musical sobriquet 'Bala' after he performed a full concert at the age of eight.
Reflecting his musical lineage, he once said that "music flows in my blood".
Balamuralikrishna also played various instruments like violin, veena and mridangam. He could also sing perfectly in three octaves. He has 400 compositions to his credit in his decade-long career.
He made rich contribution to Indian classical music, especially sustained efforts towards resurrecting ragas which were not in vogue.
He featured in the popular national integration song "Miley Sur Mera Tumhara" in the '80s in which he sang Tamil lyrics.
Gifted with a stentorian voice, he could sing perfectly in three octaves. He was not content with the fame and recognition gained by performing concerts and composed new raagas known as 'raganga ravali', 'lavangi', 'mahati' and 'manorama' and also taalas.
Balamuralikrishna had carved a niche for himself in rendering the kirtana 'Nagumo'.
Though his native tongue was Telegu, he could sing effortlessly in many languages, including Tamil, Kannada, Sanskrit, Malayalam and Hindi.
Hindustani music too was not out of bounds for this musical genius and his 'jugalbandis' with eminent exponents like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Kishori Amonkar, Hariprasad Charasia, Pt Jasraj and Zakir Hussain drew wide acclaim.
He also left his imprint in the field of cinema, where he tried his hand with acting and playback singing too.
Among his notable film forays was the song 'Oru Naal Pothuma' in Sivaji Ganesan-starrer "Thiruvilayadal". The song was sung for a musician character who considered himself the king of music and was brought down to earth by Lord Siva. Balamuralikrishna did full justice to the song, with his voice bringing out the arrogance of the character.
Besides numerous cities and towns in India, he gave concerts worldwide, including in the US, the UK, France, leaving audiences spellbound.