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His name was Anthony Gonsalves: Best music arranger dies

Legendary violinist and music arranger Anthony Gonsalves,the mention of whose name in Manmohan Desai’s classic,Amar Akbar Anthony,had a brash and bumptious Amitabh Bachchan leap out of a giant egg to announce — My Name is Anthony Gonsalves — passed away in Goa on Wednesday night Gonsalves was admitted to Goa Medical College on account of pneumonia on Sunday.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Mumbai |
January 20, 2012 12:51:23 am

Legendary violinist and music arranger Anthony Gonsalves,the mention of whose name in Manmohan Desai’s classic,Amar Akbar Anthony,had a brash and bumptious Amitabh Bachchan leap out of a giant egg to announce — My Name is Anthony Gonsalves — passed away in Goa on Wednesday night Gonsalves was admitted to Goa Medical College on account of pneumonia on Sunday. He was 84 and is survived by wife Melita,daughter Laxmi and son Kiran. He will be buried in Goa on Saturday,after his son returns from the US.

“Gonsalves sir’s death is like the end of an era. He was the best Indian music arranger ever. The song My Name is Anthony Gonsalves became more popular than the man himself. The real Anthony Gonsalves,the legendary musician that the song was dedicated to,was largely unknown to the people in the country. In his last days he was left to fend for himself,” said music composer Pyarelal Sharma,one half of popular music duo Laxmikant Pyarelal,who learnt the ropes of playing the violin from Gonsalves.

The rip-roaring tune composed by the duo,which began after Bachchan babbles some nonsensical English,was a tribute by Sharma to his guru. “He was a quiet man. The entire session of recording the song with Kishore Kumar,Bachchan sahab and Gonsalves sir together in the studio was so beautiful,” said Sharma.

The former star of Bombay Talkies,who is credited to be the first music arranger of India apart from being a conductor and composer,Gonsalves’ training in Western music that began with his father,a choir master in a Majorda church,played a significant role in over 100 symphonies composed by him. He found a 110-member orchestra with Lata Mangeshkar and Manna De as lead singers. Gonsalves’ interest in Indian classical music had him learn music from some of the most renowned Indian classical musicians such as Pandit Ravi Shankar,Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Allah Rakkha to learn Indian classical music. He was a fixture in the orchestras of musicians of the likes of Pankaj Mullick,S D Burman,Khayyam,Khemchand Prakash,Madan Mohan and many more,where he merged the symphonies of his Goan heritage with Hindustani music. His notable arrangement in Hum aapki aankhon mein in Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa and Ayega aaanewala in Mahal is vividly remembered by music connoisseurs.

A 58-minute film on the genius of Gonsalves,directed by National-award winning filmmaker Ashok Rane,also premiered at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) last month. “It is a very sad day for the music industry. Our producer Srikant Joshi who lives in Goa had a tough time locating the man in Goa. Our musicians,who were once the soul of our music,need to be valued more,” says Rane.

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