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Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna (b. Sankaraguptam, Andhra Pradesh, India, July 6, 1930) is a legendary Carnatic Music (south Indian classical) composer, poet, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, innovator and musical iconoclast. His magnificiently rich and instantly recognizable voice extends, with perfect control, over three octaves.

His father actually named him Murali Krishna. However, captivated by his pleasant boy-like disposition, it was Musunuri Satyanarayana a distinguished Hari Katha performer who gave the prefix 'Bala' to the young Muralikrishna. This is a title that has stuck to him and to all of us. This child prodigy started performing vocal concerts from the age of five. His father Pattabiramayya was a well known musician and could play the flute, violin and veena and his mother Suryakantamma was an excellent veena player. Balamuralikrishna thus began his musical career at a very young age. He soon mastered a variety of instruments, melodic and rhythmic, and is the only musician ever to be honoured with All India Radio's "Top Grade" for seven different performance areas. He is an enterprising instrumentalist who plays violin, viola, khanjira, veena, mridangam and other instruments. He is also the only musician ever to win National Awards in India for classical music, music direction and film playback singing.

Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna (or, Balamurali, as he is known affectionately to his numerous fans around the world) was born on July 6, 1930 at Sankaraguptam (a small hamlet in Rajolu Taluk, East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh) to Mangalampalli Pattabhiramayya and Suryakanthamma. He began his musical career at an age when most children cling to their mother's apron strings. He inherited the musical traits of his parents. His father, Pattabhiramayya was a famous flutist and a music teacher and Suryakanthama was a notable veena artiste. His mother died when young Balamurali was just a 15 day-old baby. From then on his maternal aunt Subbamma brought him up. When he was just two years old, Pattabhiramayya relocated to Vijayawada. At this very young age, he imbibed the nuances of good music when his father taught his other disciples. Encouraged by this Pattabhiramayya entrusted him to 'Gayaka Sarvabhauma' Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu under whose competent tutelage young Balamurali reached the pinnacle of fame in the field of music. In the order of Guru Parampara, Balamurali Krishna is fifth in the line of direct disciples of Saint Tyagaraja. Indeed, Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu's guru was Susarla Dakshinamoorthy Sastry whose guru was Akumadugula Manambuchavadi Venkata Subbayya; a direct disciple of Saint Tyagaraja. In 1938, at the age of eight, during the Sadguru Arandhana Utsava, a felicitation to Parupalli Ramakrishnayya's guru Sri Susarla Dakshinamoorthy, held at Vijayawada, Balamurali Krishna gave his first full-fledged performance. His talent came fully to the fore and since then, he has been a trailblazer in the field of Indian music. Due to his continuous concerts, Pattabhiramayya was persuaded by his friends to let his young son dedicate himself completely to music and he stopped attending school when he was in the 6th grade. From then our young performer took the entire music world by storm with his mellifluous voice and did not whither away like many other child prodigies.

Not merely content with his name and fame as a concert vocalist, very soon he proved his immense versatility by playing the kanjira, mrdangam, viola and violin and the public flocked to hear his concerts. When he was barely 14 years old, he composed Raganga-Ravali, a detailed work on the 72-Melakarta (basic scales of music) scheme. These compositions were widely accepted and embraced by music circles and critics everywhere. Since then, Balamurali Krishna has enriched Carnatic music with his compositions (over 400) and also through the creation of several new musical scales (details provided separately). He has created new raga-s like mahati, sumukham, trisakthi, sarvashri, omkari, janasamodini, manorama, rohini, vallabhi, lavangi, pratimadhyamavathi, sushama, etc.

His greatest asset is his wonderfully vibrant, widely ranging, magnetic voice over which he has perfect control in all three octaves. He sings with a sense of infectious happiness with which he captivates his audience from the very first note. Balamurali Krishna mesmerises his audiences with his crystal clear enunciation of sahitya (lyric), the buoyant, cherubic and ever fresh quality of his music, his sparkling creativity and with the impressive ease with which he sings.

While his native tongue is Telugu, he sings with crystal-clear lyrical enunciation not just in Telugu but also in Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil and less often, in a few other languages as well. His mesmerizing vocal music combines a charmingly deep voice, effortless control over the notes, extraordinary musical knowledge, spontaneous on-stage musical originality and a consistently accurate rendition of lyrics. Consequently, it has caught the pulse of and endeared itself to vastly diverse audiences across generations, cultures and continents. He belongs to that rarest breed of Carnatic musicians who remain popular with laypersons without watering down the classicism inherent in the ancient artform. His rendition of some of Thyagaraja's kritis is spiritually uplifting. Given the astounding versatility, longevity and resilience of his artistic life, spanning over seven creative and prolific decades, it can be stated without exaggeration that Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna has, for quite some time, been India's most enduring musician.
Balamuralikrishna during a concert in Kuwait on 29th March - 2006. Accompanied By Mavelikkara Sathees Chandran(Violin), Perunna G. Harikumar(Mridangom), Manjoor Unnikrishnan(Ghatam) - This was his 25641'th Concert
Balamuralikrishna during a concert in Kuwait on 29th March - 2006. Accompanied By Mavelikkara Sathees Chandran(Violin), Perunna G. Harikumar(Mridangom), Manjoor Unnikrishnan(Ghatam) - This was his 25641'th Concert

Nearly 400 Carnatic musical compositions are credited to him. New raga(Ganapathi,mahati, sumukham, trisakthi, sarvashri, omkari, janasamodini, manorama, rohini, vallabhi, lavangi, pratimadhyamavathi, sushama etc...) some with only three or four notes, and a new tala (rhythm) system are among his iconoclastic innovations. Such innovations have provoked many criticisms, but his musical inventiveness remains unblunted. Top Hindustani (north Indian classical) musicians have collaborated with him in "jugalbandhis" (duets akin to jamming): including Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Smt. Kishori Amonkar, among others.

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.

Honours have pursued him. He was awarded the prestigious "Padma Vibhushan" title by the Indian government, the "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres" by the French government, seven doctorates as of 2006, the pro-chancellorship of Telugu University and numerous top musical honours including Sangeetha Kalanidhi of the Madras Music Academy. He was also conferred with the prestigious Raja-Lakshmi Award in the year 1980 by Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation,Chennai. The prestigious award "Sangeetha Saraswathi" instituted by Manava Seva Kendra was conferred on him by its founder-guardian Poojya Sri Guruji Viswanath, on 25th June 2005. The city of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, India, has named a road after him. The record-buying public have supported him enthusiastically, prompting record labels to issue hundreds of his recordings. He has become increasingly interested in music therapy, and now performs only occasionally.

His place among the all-time greats of Carnatic music seems assured.


Miffed by the then chief minister N.T. Rama Rao's decision to scrap the Sangeet Nataka Academy headed by Balamuralikrishna, he vowed never to set foot in Andhra Pradesh again. However he relented when a subsequent chief minister Chandrababu Naidu requested him to take over as the cultural advisor to the state government.

Famous Compositions

* Mahadevasutham
* Sree Sakala Ganadhipa
* Gam Gam Ganapathim

Awards and Titles

He has bagged many titles and awards. The 'Gana Sudhakara', 'Gayaka Sikhamani', 'Sur Singar', 'Geeta Kala Bharati', Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, 'Sangeetha Kalanidhi', Padmashri and Padma Vibushan are some of them. He was conferred the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi in the year 1978. He was chosen as the 'Wisdom Man of the Year in 1992'. He was also conferred the PhD, DSc and DLitt by the Andhra University, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Sri Venkateswara University and the University of Hyderabad respectively. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh honoured him with the 'Atma Gauravam' award in 1997. The Governor of Maharashtra honoured him for services rendered for the cause of National Integration. He is an Honarary First citizen of Vijayawada and has a road named after him in that city. He is a state musician of the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and is the Asthana Vidwan of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, Sringeri Peetam and Anjenaya Swami Temple, Nanganallur.

Balamurali Krishna has been invited to give concerts in almost every country in the world, including USA, Canada, UK, Italy, France, Russia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East etc. He has given more than 26,000 performances throughout the world and has created a world record by releasing over 250 audio cassettes brought out by the Sangeetha Recording Company.

Foundations and Institutions

He founded "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 and is run by his managing trustee Kalaimamani Saraswati.

They Say

When music flows from Balamuralikrishna, you can realise what the crazy gopi-s felt in their ecstasy of Divine Love. To be born with music in his heart, to hold a recital at a tender age of only eight-deepavalis, to be at once a master in many instruments, apart from his unfailing purity of voice, tala and raga; these are indeed preciously rare in one single person unless he is a genius [Swami Chinmayananda].

Jump to filmography as: Music Department, Composer, Actor
Music Department:
1. Priyamainasrivaaru (1997) (playback singer)
2. Meghasandesam (1983) (playback singer)
3. Guppedu Manasu (1979) (playback singer)
4. Muthyala Muggu (1975) (playback singer)
5. Palnati Yudham (1966) (playback singer)
6. Narthanasala (1963) (playback singer)
7. Jayabheri (1959) (playback singer)

1. Bhagwat Geeta (1993)
2. Adi Shankaracharya (1983)

1. Bhakta Prahlada (1967/I) .... Narada

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