Anthony Gonsalves – My Name Is Anthony GonsalvesKunal Desai
Can a boy of just 13 years of age play Violin like a professional and conduct a full Church Choir? Well, yes if he is Anthony Prabhu Gonsalves. Does this name sound familiar? Yes. He was the same Anthony Gonsalves who was paid tribute by his student and legendary composer Pyarelal Sharma in the song ‘My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves’ from Amar Akbar Anthony’ 1977. He was a child prodigy and talented beyond being the Choir Master. It was the 1930s time when British and Portuguese governments were still ruling in India and Films were not yet the ultimate entertainment in commoners’ lives. Ambitions took Anthony to Bombay and as they say, the rest was history.
Anthony Gonsalves came from a family of musicians. In his own words, “More than 400 years ago, my ancestors converted. As a teenager in Goa, I played western music with five bands. My father Jose Gonsalves had his own band called Universal and I learned Violin from him. I belong to a lineage of choirmasters. I was also musically attached to the church. Earlier, the Goan Churches were resounding with music. I had very sound training. My father used to run a conservatory, like a school. At 13, I was teaching my father’s students much older than me at the Chapels and Churches like Sanvorden and Castlerock. I was the choirmaster. At 16, I came into the Hindi film industry as a musician on 15th July 1943. I learned music in Bombay from Athel Atai, a very good musician. She taught me harmony. I left the industry in 1965 as I left for the USA”
That was a brief of his life story before coming to Bombay but what it did and contributed to Hindi Film Industry had an impact that lasted for five decades.
He could used to write music pieces and integrate them to make a complete score for the song in western staff notations. Moreover, He also learned Indian Classical Music and developed techniques to write Indian Classical Music pieces in staff notations and harmonize them with western music pieces. This was the most difficult job to do and he achieved it eight decades ago. It is sufficient testimony of his caliber that Pyarelal Sharma, of Laxmikant Pyarelal duo, who is considered to be the best arranger of the country still speaks of him in awe and both he and Laxmikant have played as musicians in the 1958 Symphony Concert organized by Anthony Gonsalves to showcase the blending of Indian and Western Music.
In the early ’40s, when Anthony Gonsalves began arranging music for composers, there was no ‘Chord System’ being followed in the composition. Chord System is basically adding the Chords (three notes playing together to complement the melody) to melodies inappropriate places. It would make the song more harmonious musically. He introduced the system to prepare chord charts for the melody and even placed the various instruments’ pieces in the entire structure of the song. Putting together Prelude, Sthayi, Interludes, Antara, and Cadence would make the whole composition complete. Writing the complete music score of the song in this fashion around the tune composed by the composer was his style. He developed and set this system of music arrangement that was popularized and followed by arrangers in the next fifty years in the film industry.
Anthony Gonsalves differentiated the music arrangement in Hindi Films from that of western symphonies. He wove the harmonic music pieces with tunes composed by music directors and added supportive chords that enhanced the beauty of the song. Coming from a Catholic family and having a background in pure western classical music, Anthony Gonsalves had no connection with the Indian Classical style of composing. However, he himself learned and studied the Indian Classical Music and nuances of Indian Instruments. He used to compose music pieces and write notations for all musicians, western or Indian so that they would play by the book and in harmony. Writing staff notations (style of writing music notations in western theory) for Indian musicians like Sitarists, Sarod Players and Flautists was his great achievement.
He had worked with all the music directors from the early ’40s till 1965 like Naushad, Shyam Sunder, Gulam Haider, Madan Mohan, S.D. Burman, Roshan, etc. Pyarelal Ji and Kersi Lord were his students and trained under his tutelage. He also wrote three books on Indian Instruments which are preserved in the Library of Congress in Washington DC. He also founded the Bombay Chamber of Orchestra and regularly played Violin for Yehudi Menuhin and Mehli Mehta in their symphonies. In 1958, he conceptualized and organized a fusion concert of Indo Western Music at St. Xavier’s College in Bombay. This was one of its kind concert and many great musicians and artists who would make big in music in later years played in this concert. Laxmikant and Pyarelal were among them.
Upon the invitation of the Dean of the University of Music, Rockefeller Foundation, Syracuse, USA, Mr. Boatwright, and his wife, Anthony Gonsalves left for the USA and worked as a tutor of Indian Music at Syracuse University and as a Composer and Musician at Hollywood till 1983. He Came back to India in 1983 and never returned to the film industry. Having been discovered by Team Swar Aalap, he was publicly felicitated by Swar Aalap in Mumbai at a program in 2010. Post-retirement, he settled in his village Majorda, Goa. He spent a very quiet and peaceful life till he said goodbye to this world in 2012.
Some Outstanding Songs with Anthony Gonsalves Arrangement:
Baithi Hoon Teri Yaad Ka – Village Girl’ 45 – Shyam Sundar | Dil Jalta Hai to Jalne De – Pahli Nazar’ 45 – Anil Biswas | Zamaane Ka Dastoor Hai Yeh – Lajwaab’ 50 – Anil Biswas | Chhalak Raha Hai – Dholak’ 51 – Shyam Sundar | Seene Mein Sulagte Hain Armaan – Taraana’ 51 – Anil Biswas | Yeh Raat Yeh Chandni Phir Kahaan – Jaal’ 52 – SD Burman | ‘All Songs’ – Do Beegha Zameen’ 53 – Salil Chowdhary | Hum Aapki Aankhon Mein – Pyasa’ 57 – Sd Burman
Some Memorable Songs Wherein Anthony Gonsalves Played Violin:
Saawan Ke BAadlon – Ratan’ 44 – Naushad | Saanjh Ki Bela – Jwaar Bhaata’ 44 – Anil Biswas | Awaz De Kahaan Hai – Anmol Ghadi’ 46 – Naushad | Mere Bachpan Ke Saathi – Anmol Ghadi’ 46 – Naushad | Dil Mera Toda – Majboor’ 48 – Master Ghulam Hyder | Jiya Beqaraar Hai – Barsaat’ 49 – Shankar-Jaikishan | Aayega Aanewala – Mahal’ 49 – Khemchand Prakash | Taraari Araari Araari – Dastaan’ 50 – Naushad | Saiyaan Dil Mein Aana Re – Bahaar’ 51 – Sd Burman | BAchpan Ki Muhabbat Ko – Baiju Bawra’ 52 – Naushad | Aaja Re Ab Mera Dil Pukaara – Aah’ 53 – Shankar-Jaikishan | Shan-E-Gham Ki Kasam – Footpath’ 53 – Khayyam | Chhota Sa Ghar Hoga – Naukri’ 54 – Salil Chowdhary
Movies Background Music arrangement by Anthony Gonsalves:
Dholak’ 51 | Bujdil’ 51 | Jaal’ 52 | Alif Laila ’53 | Do Beegha Zamen’ 53 | Footpath’ 56 | Gateway of India’ 57