Indian music legend M Balamurali Krishna dies aged 86

Dr M. Balamurali Krishna was a legendary singer and composer of south India's Carnatic music Image copyright Kashif Masood
Image caption Dr M. Balamurali Krishna was a legendary singer and composer of south India's Carnatic music

Legendary Indian musician M Balamurali Krishna, who delighted millions of fans for more than four decades, has died aged 86.

Balamurali, as he was affectionately known, passed away in the south Indian city of Chennai after a long illness.

He was a renowned singer and composer of Carnatic music, a classical style from India's southern states.

He also dabbled in acting and produced several songs for south Indian films - many of them runaway hits.

Balamurali was known for his melodious voice and played numerous instruments, including the Indian violin and the mridangam drum.

He is said to have performed in over 18,000 concerts across the world.

His output included songs in his native tongue, Telugu, and other Indian languages including Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi.

Image copyright Twitter / Dhanush
Image caption Tamil actor and director Venkatesh Prabhu, known as Dhanush, was one of many paying his respects on Twitter

BBC Tamil editor Thirumalai Manivannan said the maestro was hailed for his creative skills, but was occasionally involved in battles with fellow musicians over his exploratory style.

Balamurali Krishna was born in Andhra Pradesh, a coastal state in south-eastern India, and was considered a child prodigy. He performed his first public concert at the age of six.

The singer won several accolades over his lifetime in the spotlight, including India's second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan. He was made a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by France in 2005 for his contribution to music.

Mourning a genius

Fans, politicians and musicians all shared their grief at the loss of the star.

"The word genius is too casual, but that is most appropriate for him. He created his own sound, his own path. The sound of Carnatic music you hear from him is different from what you have heard in the last 100 years," TM Krishna, a Carnatic vocalist, told BBC Hindi.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, an Indian spiritual leader and NGO boss, wrote on Twitter: "Composer & musician of exemplary talent, Dr. #Balamuralikrishna's contribution to Carnatic music is invaluable & will be remembered for ages."

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India's Information & Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said "nobody can fill the void" left by the singer's death.

"My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family," he added.

One point commonly made by those in the music fraternity is that Balamurali Krishna enjoyed his life and acquired disciples who adored him.

V Ramanarayan, editor-in-chief of Sruti, an Indian performing arts magazine, said: "Even in his 80s he would get along so well with young people."

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