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Virtuoso steeped in music

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 25.03.05
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V. Balsara, synonymous with the sound of music in the city, died on Thursday afternoon. The legendary pianist and composer was 83.

Balsara, known for his versatility with an array of musical instruments, had been suffering from geriatric problems for the past few months and was undergoing treatment at his nephew?s residence in Ballygunge Park.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday expressed grief over the death of the virtuoso, who had been honoured with a D.Lit by Visva-Bharati, among a number of other awards.

Talking to reporters at Writers? Building on Thursday, the chief minister said Balsara?s contributions to the world of music and as president of the Sangeet Research Academy were immense.

A thin, frail man, Balsara always amazed with his verve and energy and went on composing music for Bengali as well as Hindi films till the end.

Though essentially a western composer, Balsara traversed the Indian classical terrain with consummate ease.

He had composed music for a number of Tagore poems, like Debotar Grash.

Balsara would often fuse eastern and western elements of music but was loath to call it fusion. ?I merge pure Indian classical music with the most modern rhythms,? Balsara had told Metro during an interview at his Bowbazar house late last year. ?In fact, I am allergic to the word fusion,? he had insisted.

Not known to mince words, Balsara said when asked about his views on the current music scenario in the country: ?Earlier, music accompanied the song, now the song accompanies the orchestra. As a result, earlier we used to hear the song and now we hear the orchestra.? He had added, diplomatically: ?But that is the current trend and I respect it.?

Those close to him say Balsara had an amazing sense of humour and was a thorough gentleman. ?He was the most wonderful person I have ever met and a very talented musician of his time,? said Usha Uthup from Delhi.

Sitar player Anirban Chatterjee echoed her views. He had the opportunity of working with Balsara while composing music for the International Festival of Non-Verbal Arts 2004.

?Apart from music, I loved spending time with him. You could spend hours listening to his views on life,? said Chatterjee.

Immersed in music, Balsara led a lonely life. He suffered the misfortune of attending the funeral of most of his loved ones, including his wife and two sons.