TRIBUTE – Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao by Seetha Ratnakar


It was a sad day for the music world when the oldest living vaggeyakara, Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao breathed his last in Vijayawada at the age of 98, on 22 April 2018. He reached the pinnacle of glory even in death when he was awarded the highest State honour, a 21 gun salute by the Andhra government. Three years earlier, his family and extended family of musicians had celebrated his centenary based on calculation as per the Telugu Panchangam (almanac). His voice is silent now but his words resonate with his zest for music as heard in this talk in Birmingham (1984) titled Expanding Horizons: “Like a rider galloping on a horse with stirrups, something propels my heart when I see you listening to my song and enjoying it, and I will be galloping and galloping and galloping through my song.”

Rajanikanta Rao was a multifaceted musical genius, a prolific writer, composer and singer who left behind a rich legacy that will remain a reference point for generations to come. Born in Nidadavole on 29 January 1920, he was the son of Balantrapu Venkata Rao, one half of the renowned Telugu poetduo Venkata Parvateswara Kavulu. He was proficient in Sanskrit and Telugu and started writing songs and composing music when he was 21. His best creative output was when he worked from 1941 to 1978 as a broadcaster with All India Radio where he had ample opportunity to showcase his musical and literary talents. Rajani’s first composition for AIR was Chandidas, a musical opera which he wrote and composed… read more