Born on December 5, 1927 in Koralawella, Moratuwa as Wannakuwatta Miti Waduge Don Albert Perera , he was aptly renamed Amaradeva by professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra. Amaradeva means Immortal God and thus he became the everlasting god of the Sri Lankan music industry who passed away on Thursday.
At the age of seven, Amaradeva had his first introduction to the world of music, through a violin that was especially crafted for him as a birthday gift by his father who was a sought-after carpenter at the time.
After receiving his primary education at the Koralawella Saddharmodaya Patashala, he joined Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya, Panadura. Later he enrolled at Kalutara Vidyalaya in order to fine-tune his musical gift.
At the age of 19, he was introduced to Mohamed Ghouse Master and had the once in a lifetime opportunity of being a part of his orchestra for the first Sinhala film, Asokamala.
He was the chief violinist and helped Ghouse Master arrange background music which resulted in him being credited as the assistant music director.
Amaradeva then encountered Dr Ediriweera Sarachchandra who gave him more than a taste of the local folk music. In the 1950s with the support of DB Dhanapala, he attended Bhatkande Institute of Music in Lucknow and returned home as Amaradeva. His music displays a range of influences from local folk music, Hindustan Ragas to Christian hymns and Portuguese music, indicating a mark of borderless creativity.
At Radio Ceylon, he collaborated with lyricist Mahagama Sekera to conduct radio programmes such as Madhuwanthie, Jana Gayana and Swara Warna, that brought out elements of local music.
The duo was commonly referred to as ‘Gee Pothay, Mee Vithay’. Their collaborations included songs like Neela Kobey Reena Edee, Wakkada Langa Diya Wessena Thalayata and Rathna Deepa Janma Bhoomi.
His other notable work include Obe Naming Seeya Bandimi, Eetha Kandukara Himavu Arane, Hanthane Kandu Muduna Sisara, Mee Guru Pare and a long list of popular Sinhalese songs.
He also composed music for the ballets Nala Damayanthi and Karadiya. His other compositions were Galana Gangaki Jeevithe, Pipi Pipi Renu Selena ,Paramitha Bala Poojitha as well as musical compositions for Gamperaliya, Getawarayo, Parasathumal, Delovak Athara, Sikuru Tharuwa, Saravita and Westhuru Siritha.
In 1972 Amaradeva was honored with the task of composing the Maldives national anthem Gaumii Salaam. He was honored by both national and international organizations for his outstanding contributions to the music industry.
He was bestowed with the title ‘Kala Keerthi,’ and awarded the Deshamanya honour by the government in 1998. In 2001, he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award of the Philippines, the highest international award to be bestowed on him.
Born : 5 December 1927
Wannakuwatta Waduge Don Albert Perera
(Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra christens Don Albert Perera, W.D. Amaradeva)
Alma mater: Bhatkhande Music Institute/ Kalutara Vidyalaya/Siddharta Vidyalaya Balapitiya /Sri Sumangala College/ Koralawella Saddharmodaya Patashala
1945: Amaradeva won a gold medal at a music and violin contest held by Jana Kala Mandalaya
Meeting master Mohamed Ghouse
1950: In his Janagayana project consulted with experts of the Kandyan dance tradition and accompany him during recitals.
1953: Went to Lucknow, to earn the degrees of Sangeet Visharad Diploma and Vadya Visharad Diploma
In 1955: Wins an all-India violin competition
1962: Music director for the first colour film of the Sinhala Cinema Ran Muthu Duwa
Enters into married life with Wimala Gunaratne
1963: Composes music for films; Adata Wadiya Heta Hondai, Sikuru Tharuwa, Gamperaliya and Getawarayo
1966: Composes music for Delovak Athara and Westhuru Siritha
1967: Represented Sri Lanka in Manila Symposium (UNESCO)
1972: Composed the music for the Maldivian National Anthem (Gaumii salaam) at the request of Maldivian Government
1986: President’s Award of Kala Keerthi
1998: Deshamanya Award
2001: Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award
2002: Indian Padma Sri Award
2003: The French government awarded the prestigious honour; Officier
Still remains the most popular artiste as confirmed by Nielsen Media Research findings
Died: 3 November 2016 (aged 88)