Visakhapatnam: Carnatic music doyen Nedunuri Krishnamurthy breathed his last on Monday at the age of 87. Krishnamurthy provided tunes to more than 300 Annamacharya krithis, 108 Ramadasu kirthanas and 25 Yogi Narayana Kirthanalus.
His greatness was exemplified in the fact that he set tunes to about 11 works of Annamacharya which had no musical notations. He was conferred with various titles like the prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi by the Madras Music Academy and National Artiste Award by Prasar Bharati.
However, some of his disciples have criticised the fact that no civilian honour was awarded to Nedunuri Krishnamurthy by the Central government. Annamacharya kritis set to tune by Krishnamurthy were sung by the greats including Bharat Ratna M.S. Subbulakshmi herself.
On Monday, AP chief secretary I.Y.R. Krishna Rao visited the Carnatic maestro’s house and conveyed condolences on behalf of CM N. Chandrababu Naidu. Panchayat raj minister Ch Ayyana Patrudu and YSRC party chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy also conveyed their condolences. The state government provided a Guard of Honour for the legend’s cremation.
An epitome of classical melody
Nedanuri and my father and guru Lalgudi G. Jayaraman shared a relationship of love and respect. My guru, who never missed an opportunity to acknowledge a colleague’s mastery, introduced Nedanuri to the Madras audience in 1970. My father accompanied him on hundreds of concerts. As contemporaries, they exchanged ideas constantly, often writing letters to each other, where they addressed each other as “My dear brother.”
I remember in the early 1970s, when Nedanuri created a storm in Chennai. He would stay at the TTD guest house, a stone’s throw from our Ramanujam Street home. As soon as he arrived in the morning, I would carry the Miraj Tambura walking diffidently to his place from my house.
His style was marked by rich classicism and fine aesthetics. He deeply valued tradition, and his pursuit of musical knowledge was driven by reason. His voice had a richness so apt for our classical idiom, with his natural overtones carrying the anuswaram (connecting notes) effortlessly. I have accompanied him on several occasions and have gained immensely from the experiences.
In his passing away we have lost a great musician, a dear friend and one of the finest masters of classical music.
-As told by Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan to K.N. Shashikiran
Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, a guru beyond excellence
Nedunuri Krishnamurthy serves as an inspiration for those in the field of teaching classical music. As classical music is under stress from commercial music, it is a teacher who can instill love and respect for classical music by imparting lessons with complete devotion like my guru, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy used to.
I started learning advanced Carnatic music from him in 1990. The learning never ended as his repository of knowledge was overwhelming. He never looked at the clock while he taught. He also never stuck to a particular lesson structure. Rather, he let us improvise as we sang kirtanas.
Nedunuri Krishnamurthy stands as an inspiration even for students of Carnatic music. Music for him was more than just passion, it was a part of his life. I can never forget an incident that took place in Mumbai where he had to be treated at a hospital. After the treatment when he came to my house, the first thing he did was sing Inakula Tilaka Emmayya Ramayya in Abheri ragam, a Ramdasu kriti. As he sang the kriti he looked as if he transcended to a different world.
In the last 24 years, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy has not been just a guru but he transformed into a father figure and a philosopher for me. The death of Nedunuri Krishnamurthy is definitely a great loss for the entire music fraternity. However, the devotion he had for music and towards teaching music to his students can be kept alive.
As told by G. Sarada Subramaniam, 'A' grade artist of Doordarshan and All India Radio.