Sundaram Balachander (January 18, 1927 – April 15, 1990), born in Madras was an Indian self-taught veena player. His ancestors were from the Tanjore area, which is acclaimed as the seat of culture and fine arts in South India. From the age of five he showed an interest in classical music and his first musical attempt was with the kanjeera, which is a small, circular percussion instrument. Within a year he was accompanying his brother and other musicians on the kanjeera during regular concert engagement, in Sabhas, in temple festivals, in devotional congregations, etc. From age six on his career achieved steady growth.
On the sitar, Balachander was a fully fledged solo concert artist by age twelve and it is interesting to note that he performed South Indian Carnatic music on that instrument. From age fifteen to eighteen he served as an artist on the staff of « All India Radio« , Madras, playing many instruments during the almost daily broadcasts, while also performing in solo recitals, participating in orchestral ensembles, accompanying other artists and composing and conducting pieces of his own.
A hectic period of playing and working for All India Radio playing came almost simultaneously to an end with the entry of the veena into his life. Falling in love with the instrument. From the beginning he felt that it deserved his undivided attention and every skill. Without a tutor or master to guide him, within two years he was an established concert veena player. He felt that « by the grace of god » was he able to bring credit to himself as for his achievement of having evolved a new trend, a new style and a new school of veena-playing.
Balachander also possessed a substantial knowledge of North Indian Hindustani classical music, and a keen appreciation of Western classical music.
He is also known for his work in cinema, his writing and his polemics. Balachander was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1982
S. Balachander & Sivaraman – The Music of Southern India (1965)
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