W. D. Amaradeva, Sri Lankan musician, Died at 88


Wannakuwatta Waduge Don Albert Perera was born on December 5, 1927, and died on November 3, 2016.

He was best known by his adopted name Amaradeva,

He was a Sri Lankan vocalist, violinist and composer.

He was mostly using traditional instruments like sitars, tablas and harmoniums, Amaradeva incorporates Sinhala folk music with Indian ragas in his work.

It was said that his contribution to the development of Sinhala music as unmatched.

During the mid-1950s, Amaradeva in his Janagayana project consulted experts of the Kandyan dance tradition like Pani Bharata, Kiriganita, Gunamala, Ukkuva and Suramba in his path to understand what constituted Sinhala folk music.

But that it mostly revolved around a single melody, he decided to add verses that would lead up to the central melody which would now be a chorus thus forming two parts (unseen earlier in traditional Sri Lankan music) removing restrictions that had existed earlier.

With that, he created a uniquely Sinhalese music style that stayed true to folk tradition while incorporating outside influences.

His work was important in the creation of the sarala gee genre practised subsequently by artists like Victor Ratnayake, Sunil Edirisinghe and Sanath Nandasiri.

He had been the recipient of numerous awards including the Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award (2001), Indian Padma Sri Award (2002) and Sri Lankan “President’s Award of Kala Keerthi” (1986) and Deshamanya Award (1998).

During 2003 the French government awarded him the prestigious honour; Officier (officer).

Notably Pandit Amaradeva still remains the most popular artist as confirmed by Nielsen Media Research findings.

Pandit Amaradeva has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967 Manila Symposium.

In 1972, he composed the music for the Maldivian National Anthem (Gaumii salaam) at the request of Maldivian Government.

W. D. Amaradeva passed away at 88 years old.