Amaradeva - The Greatest Musical Genious Of The Nation
By Dickson Hemantha - Gaithersburg, State of Maryland, USA.
Shantha Mae Rae Yaame the song resonating at the apex of its popularity among young and old in every household, musical function and school excursion reminds the immortal name of the world acclaimed Sri Lanakn music maestro Amaradeva the national treasure of Sri Lanka. Pandith Dr W.D. Amaradeva is regarded as the legendary musical genius of the era.
Known by his birth name W.D.Albert Perera was born on December 05, 1927 in Koralawella, Moratuwa. Encouraged by the innate talents at the age of 8 years his father a carpenter by profession carved a violin of his own and gifted to this future fastest musical brain of all times.
He was 17 yrs of age when he won the Gold Medal for his magnificent performance of a violin recital at Moratuwa. At the beginning he played by ear and later mastered the instrument with competence to the zenith of its glory. Mohamed Ghouse famously known as Ghouse Master an Indian musician was in Sri Lanka for direction of music for the historic Sinhala film ‘Asokamala’ screened in 1947. Impressed by the resounding skills of violinist Albert Perera, Ghouse Master enrolled him in his orchestra. As the male singer failed to reach the quality recording, Albert Perera had the fortune to sing two songs “Aei kare yamek aale” and “Bhawe bheetha hera” for ‘Asokamala’ his debut in playback singing.
He was playback-singer for the film ‘Daskama’ after a lapse of 10 years since the film ‘Asokamala’ was screened. This young man became associated with Ananda Samarakoon, Sesha Palihakkara, Chitrasena, Sunil Shantha and Prof Ediriweera Saratchandra whose expertise strengthened his artistic acumen shedding light upon producing innumerable number of compositions destined to be imaged for ever.
The sensational lyrics written by the luminaries Mahagama Sekera, Chandraratne Manawasinghe and Madawala S.Ratnayake emboldened him in the invent of a reservoir of spectacular music.
Blessed with creative talents Albert Perera was offered to compose songs for stage plays Vessanthara, Maname, Pabawathi and many more written and produced by Prof Saratchandra. In 1950 he joined Bhathkande University of Music & Arts in Lucknow, India. It was Prof Saratchandra who predicted the musical brilliancy of this small made personality introduced the most meaningful immortal name Amaradeva.
Amaradeva was ranked a Supra Grade artiste of Radio Ceylon (now SLBC) by the audition conducted by Sri Ratanjankar an Indian musician hired by the then Radio Ceylon. I recall Dr Amaradeva had stated with warmest feelings of gratitude that he became a People’s artiste consequent to the massive contribution made by the people in aid of his scholarship to Bhathkande. On his return from Bhathkande, India he boldly took the challenge on initiating various experimental musical programs at Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation with Madhuwanthi, Jana gayana etc a herculean task in an attempt to innovate a musical fabric with Sri Lankan national identity at a time Indian music was dominating the musical taste of the Sri Lankan populace. He excelled in popularity with his inventive Madhuwanthi research program making a dedicated contribution to enrich Sri Lankan music to its pristine quality. Deeply resonant voice of this versatile musician not only enchanted the local audience but also awakened the nostalgic and poetic memories of the Motherland in the hearts of the expatriate community.
Ratna deepa janma bhumi, Obe desai mage desai, Sannaliyane, Mindada hee sara, Udangu liyan gotha bandina, Kumariyaka paa salamba, Thanha aasha, Sasara vasana thuru, Jagan mohini, Paramitha bala, Arichchi borichchi, Galana gangaki jeevithe and Swarna vimaneta are only a handful of umpteenth innovative compositions attracted by the hearts of young and old both locally and abroad. In 1966 he was adjudged the Best Playback Singer in ‘Sath Samudura’ film. This distinguished character of exemplary aptitude with a vast extent of international acclaim made a masterly contribution of fascinating background music for ‘Karadiya’ and ‘Naladamayanthi’ the famous ballet productions by Chitrasena another resplendent contemporary who introduced ballet dancing in Sri Lanka. Featuring his exquisite skill in the practice of instrumental sounds he demonstrated a marvelous orchestration of music for the film “Ranmuthu Duwa” his debut in production of music. Accolades in appreciation of his remarkable contribution to enrich the indigenous music in Sri Lanka with astonishing varieties of exhilarating orchestration were received by example of smiling spirited humility. In addition to Sarasaviya Sammana, Swarna Hansa Sammana & Presidential Awards this indisputable giant in music was honored with Padma Sri Sammana in 1991 by Bhathkande University of Music & Arts, India and Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2001 by the Philippines.
Dr Lester James Peiris the father of Sri Lankan Cinema made the infallible choice in assigning Amaradeva the direction of music for his award winning film Ran Salu with its theme song Siripa Piyume composed by Amaradeva. Accredited with an abundance of musical virtuosity Amaradeva disported his skills with colorful creation of music in Gam Peraliya, Delovak Athara, Ranmuthu Duwa, Getawarayo and Dheewarayo. The efflorescence of his musical brightness comparatively developed with the contribution of mellifluous innovations to the Silver Screen in particular.
The composition of a melody for the national anthem of the Maldives in 1971 was a distinctive honor extended to the outstanding Greatness of musical ingenuity of a genius a historical honor to the entire nation.
A special award Yuganthaya 99 was presented in honor of being the most celebrated musician who sacrificed his entire lifetime with an indomitable knowledge of classical music braving the challenges with courageous effort on building the image of Sri Lankan music recognized with national identity.
Reminiscing his past visits to the United States particularly the visit in April 2006 I enjoyed one of the fortunate moments in my life in receiving this eminent composer of extraordinary intellectual power.
This living legend of music was pleasing, smiling and entertaining a sense of good humor one of the most healing nutrients to the body more than vitamins or minerals and even more than herbs. Dr Amaradeva is a gentleman to his finger tips.
Most significantly it lends a highly esteemed degree of credence to Dr Amaradeva for his farsighted insight in introducing a little 13 yr old girl with unique golden voice the future Nightingale Visharada Nanda Malini to the world of music by that sparkling song Galana Gangaki Jeevithe in Ranmuthu Duwa.
Dr Amaradeva - May you be blessed with sound health and Long Life.
- Asian Tribune -