Anthony Gonsalves : The Maestro

Anthony Gonsalves : The Maestro

Anthony Gonsalves Sir always reminds me of Steve Wozniak of Apple. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs together built Apple. Jobs visualized the products and Wozniak made them with his brilliant skills. Similarly, Anthony Gonsalves had always been the man who designed songs and scores for composers. Much has been written about and filmed on him and yet much is still left. Apart from being a first row violinist, he was a brilliant music arranger and composer.

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 learnt 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 for his caliber that Pyarelal Sharma, of Laxmikant Pyarelal duo, who is considered to be the best arranger of 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.

Young Laxmikant Kudalkar of LP duo is seen sitting with Mandolin in front of Anthony Gonsalves on Dias. This image is of 1958 Concert which was held in St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai. (Photo Courtesy –

As a Violinist and Arranger he had a distinct style of creating harmony for songs. Lets look at some of his selected work.

Aayega Aanewala – Mahal (1949)

Aayega Aanewala…..has remained an iconic song in the history of Hindi Film Music. What made is iconic is the lovely tune composed by Khemchand Prakash and the brilliant music arrangement designed by Anthony Gonsalves. Two distinct examples in two audio clips can help understand it –

Prelude Harmonic Music Piece Created with Strings , Clarinet and Piano
Interlude Composed with Strings, Flute and Hawaiian Guitar
Hum Pyar Mein Jalne Walon Ko – Jailor (1958)

Grand Piano , even though classically considered to be a rhythm instrument, has always been integral part of melodic structure of our songs. Anthony Gonsalves had beautifully complemented the staccato nature of sound of Piano with continuous weavy sound of Violins and woven beautiful harmony around lovely tune composed by Madan Mohan in this song. An icing on the cake is the accompaniment on flute that goes perfect with mood of the song.

Sham E Gham Ki Qasam (Footpath, 1953)

He had always been a keen learner of Indian Classical Music and not only he learnt but also integrated it with western pieces. The beautiful Composition of Khayyam could not have been better without its soulful orchestration by Anthony Sir. Waltz played on Double Bass and Guitar and a continuous melody to the tune of song is running on Sitar. For a such a pathos laden song he used Muted Trumpets in interlude. This shows the lateral thinking of arranger. One more highlight of this song is the SoloVox which is a predecessor instrument of Synthesizers. It is played as introduction music in the song and was played by a lady musician named Lucilla Pacheco.

Mausam Aaya Hai Rangeen (Dholak , 1951)

When it comes to create the peppy music for a fun song, there would have been free hand given to musicians and Anthony Gonsalves just hit the charts in this song. He worked as assistant to Composer Shyam Sunder for some time. They both created magical melody in this composition. The use of Accordion, Trumpets and Clarinets in Intro music sets the fun mood. Hawaiian Guitar pops up in the interlude as a signature mark of Anthony Sir. He seemed to have used his experience as Choir Master in Goan Church for creating vocal harmony in this song. User of male voice is kept one Octave lower to both female voice as well as Chorus and thus makes its beautiful vocal harmony.

Yeh Raat Yeh Chandani (Jaal , 1952)

Essentially an arranger has to align the arrangement and sound as per the composer’s style and vision of the song. A good arranger is one who perfectly aligns with composer’s vision and yet leaves his mark on composition. Anthony Gonsalves scores perfect ten on this. S.D. Burman was known for his minimalistic style of orchestration. Anthony Sir has brilliantly used Violins, Piano, Acoustic Guitars and Clarinet for this version of song and brilliantly orchestrated the whole score. He cleverly used single Clarinet to create filler pieces. Please listen these two audio clips of two clarinet pieces to understand it better.

Filler Piece on Clarinet 1

Filler Piece on Clarinet 2

Anthony Gonsalves had also written few books on synthesis of western classical and Indian classical music however it remained unpublished. This article is my humble attempt to pay tribute to this genius whose birth anniversary was on 12th June.

Photo Credit : ; Inputs on Anthony Gonsalves’s life and works : Documentary film by Passyflora films.

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5 thoughts on “Anthony Gonsalves : The Maestro

  1. Anthony Gonsalves used play Violin for S D Burman orchestra. The ‘prelude’ of “Pyasa” song ‘hum aap ki aankhon mein’ (Geeta Dutt – Rafi), the polished VIOLIN is played by Anthony Gonsalves.

  2. Extraordinary write- up………very different subject ….. awesome… We can’t even imagine this…..tum batate ho to pata chalta hai..phir kahungi…mujhe kabhi samjh nahi aaya tha ki music arranger kya karte hai…aaj aaya…too good…..likhte rahiye👍🎼👌

  3. Dear Kunal,
    An Enlightening write up on Anthony Sir. Very few people know about this Great Genius Artist of early 50s…. He was one of those pioneers who moulded the hindi film music with both western and indian style and gave altogether a different structure which has stayed in our heart and soul ..
    Keep it up…

  4. Fantastic Kunal, really in-depth analysis of music arrangement of genius Anthony Gonsalves. The clear simple style of your explanation is quite enlightening and enriching experience for knowledge seekers of how music is created with variety of instruments to make it sound so beautiful and apt at the right places in a composition.
    Keep it up!👍

  5. I always look forward to your articles. Your insight into Hindi film music helps me to appreciate it better. Tks

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