The My­suru con­nec­tion


Bala­mu­ra­likr­ishna was the only liv­ing le­gend to have an au­di­to­rium built in his name at Anan­ta­pur by Gyanesh­war Rao, a mu­sic en­thu­si­ast. Re­call­ing this S.N. Varadaraj of Ra­ma­seva Man­dali in Ben­galuru, who has been or­gan­is­ing Sri­ra­manavami con­certs for many decades says, “My fa­ther S.V. Narayanaswamy Rao brought Bala­mu­rali for a con­cert when he was 14 years. It be­came a per­ma­nent as­so­ci­a­tion as the melody of his voice drew largest crowds from other cities too,” re­calls Varadaraj.

Bala­mu­ra­likr­ishna is the re­cip­i­ent of the Chow­diah Na­tional Award too. The mae­stro was ex­tremely happy to sing at the Chow­diah Me­mo­rial Hall, Ben­galuru, built in the shape of a vi­olin in 1980. “The build­ing is as awe­some as Chow­diah’s sev­en­stringed vi­olin,” the mae­stro com­mented, ac­cord­ing to R. Sub­baraj Urs, sec­re­tary, Academy of Mu­sic.

The ic­ing on the cake was ‘Chow­diah navara Ne­nap­inalli, Murthy kat­tida Bha­vani nalli,’ that Bala­mu­rali com­posed dur­ing the con­cert. It flowed on his vi­ola even as he sung the lyric send­ing the au­di­ence into rap­tures.

“He played the vi­ola, sung two-hour dasara­pada con­certs and praised Kar­nataka’s love for the vi­ola,” says N. Venkatesh, him­self a vi­ola player and R.R. Ke­shava­murthy’s stu­dent. The R.R. Ke­shava­murthy Foun­da­tion in Ben­galuru pre­sented Bala­mu­ra­likr­ishna the Life­time Achieve­ment Award for 2016. “We came to Chen­nai and pre­sented this to him on Oc­to­ber 13, per­haps one of the last that he re­ceived,” says Venkatesh.

The iconic 111-year-old, Ban­ga­lore Gayana Sa­maja, old­est sabha in the coun­try, is be­ing ren­o­vated. “Fin­ish it fast The mem­bers of the R.R. Ke­shava­murthy Foun­da­tion pre­sent­ing the Life­time Achieve­ment Award to the mae­stro last month. and pre­serve the her­itage,” the mae­stro had said. The plan was to in­au­gu­rate it with his con­cert. The pres­i­dent Dr. M.R.V. Prasad, is sad that it can­not hap­pen.

Vi­o­lin­ist broth­ers, Mysore M. Na­garaj and M. Man­ju­nath have the dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing ac­com­pa­nied Bala­mu­ra­likr­ishna the most (as Kar­nataka artists). Nearly 200 con­certs and ex­ten­sive travel with him across In­dia, Europe, the U.K. and the U.S.

“He made cof­fee and sand­wich for us when we were tour­ing in the U.K.,” re­calls Man­ju­nath. Ud­dina Vade ice cream was a favourite. The mae­stro could eat any­thing be­fore, af­ter and dur­ing a con­cert, but never com­plained of a throat prob­lem. “If I can have as a vo­cal­ist, why can’t you as vi­o­lin­ists have fun,” he would tease them. So ca­sual was he that he would go over to vi­olin Ma­hade­vappa’s house (Mysore broth­ers’ fa­ther) to have Mysore rasam.

“I have played for him at sev­eral con­certs in In­dia,” says Sukanya Ram­gopal, ghatam ex­po­nent. In the 1990s, when he took up a Dasara­pada in Nel­lore, he in­stan­ta­neously trans­lated it into Tel­ugu, and had them in al­ter­nate lines. Such was his vid­wat,” she re­calls.

“‘Start com­pos­ing for a health­ier and more cre­ative mind’,” was his advice, says M.G. Venkataragha­van from Mysore, who spent six years with the mae­stro in gu­rukulavasam. “He would test our skills by giv­ing us no­ta­tions. We had to prac­tise and go back with the song, all san­gatis in­tact,” adds Venkataragha­van.

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