Friday, June 26, 2009

Beethoven in Goa

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Just at the entrance of a house in Gaunsavaddo, in the lovely village of Siolim, stands a statue of Beethoven. What's that, you say... yes, Ludwig Van Beethoven. The patriarch of the house Pinta Shapai (Grandfather Pinto) so loved music, that on his 200th birthday his descendants installed a statue of the great German composer and pianist in front of the house.




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A quote by Giuseppe Verdi on the marble plaque reads - "Before the name of Beethoven, we must all bow in reverence".
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Another quote by George Bernard Shaw says - " No composer has ever so melted his hearers into complete sentimentality by the beauty of his music."
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Shaw's quote must be read in its full intent - "And no other composer has ever melted his hearers into complete sentimentality by the tender beauty of his music, and then suddenly turned on them and mocked them with derisive trumpet blasts for being such fools. Nobody but Beethoven could govern Beethoven; and when, as happened when the fit was on him, he deliberately refused to govern himself, he was ungovernable."
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Yet another line from Goethe reads - “More concentrated, more energetic, more intimate, I have never yet seen an artist. I can very well understand how singular he stands in his relations with the world.”
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The original German quote by Goethe reads - "Zusammengefasster, energischer, inniger habe ich noch keinen Künstler gesehen, ich begreife recht gut, wie er gegen die Welt wunderlich stehen muss".
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The word 'inniger' has been variously translated as intimate/fervent/tenderly and so on. But in one study, it reads as "“More concentrated, more energetic, more inward, I have never yet seen an artist. " Another essay says "...I can well understand he must stand a stranger against the world.” Goethe, who was not particularly liked by Beethoven, also called the composer "an utterly untamed personality".
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So the quotes by Shaw and Goethe also refer to Beethoven's arrogance, tempestuousness and near neurotic nature at that time.
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A more sentimental quote by Manuel Sousa Pinto says - "Like every Goan, Ludwig was born with a fiddle in his hand. I thank God he is now here, quite at home in my beloved Goa."
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Ludwig ne'er a fiddle play'd, he was a pianist. But if he were born with a grand piano in hand, that would have been quite traumatic for Frau Beethoven. So a literary fiddle it shall be...
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The maestro is indeed at home in Goa. During San Joao festivities, he even dons a 'kopel' alongwith other revellers as mentioned by chronicler Vivek Menezes.
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The coat-of-arms of Pinta Xapai's clan stands above the main door. The compartments show a book, a harp, ships on water and a farmer ploughing his field. The arts, adventure and hard work. Labore et Honore. Work and Honour. A noble Goan world view indeed! Well said.

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The gentleman (in white cap and kurta) standing at the entrance is veteran Gandhian Gurunath Kelekar. When he had been to Delhi to invite then President Abdul Kalam to inaugurate a new statue in Margao, Kalam told him gently but bluntly – “In India, we know only how to erect new statues, but we do not take care of the existing statues”. On his return to Goa, Gurunathbab got the government to set up a committee to study the state of statues and memorials in Goa. So it was that your truly (as part of the team) trudged up and down Goan terrain last year to shoot the men of marble and bronze.
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On our stop at Siolim, we met up with Konkani tiatrist and activist Tomazinho Cardozo and the cheery cartoonist Alexyz (below) who took us to see Ludwigbab.
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Wikipedia says:
"Music is an essential ingredient of Goa, and more so in Siolim. Pinta Xapai (the grand old patriarch who died at the age of 114) put up the statue of Beethoven in his courtyard in Gaunsavaddo. The rare landmark symbolises the love for the magical arts and music Siolcars are famed for. Famous musician Remo Fernandes hails from Siolim (Guddem).
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Another well-known musician was Johnson (of 'Johnson & his Jolly boys' fame). Rosario “Tequila” Basil was a famous saxophonist. Writer-trumpeter Reginald Fernandes, played for Hal Green, Nelly Batliwalla and her orchestra. Known as ”Romansincho Patxai”, he has written a record number of Konkani novels, nearly 100. A musician of high repute, he has left behind several Goan Konkani compositions, which are played still on All India Radio, one of the well-known ones being the melancholic “Adeus Korchea Vellar” sung by Allan Costa. Antoninho de Souza was a music director and music recordist for Emissora De Goa & All India Radio, Panjim."
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The plaque says the statue was installed for the bicentenary of Pinta Xapai in 1978, so I doubt the patriarch himself put up the statue. But he definitely inspired it.

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A Beethoven Night was organised in 2007, where accomplished musicians and music lovers gathered to celebrate the maestro’s legacy. Les Menezes writes about the event on the Heritage Jazz site. These two photos are by the lovable and dedicated Joel D’Souza.
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"......four professors from the Vienna University of Music and the Performing Arts had journeyed to Goa to celebrate his 237 th birthday. Mariaelena Fernandes (piano) had enthused Heidrun Lanzendoefer (flute), Gottfried Pokoeny (bassoon) and Wolfgang Klos (viola) with this enterprising odyssey. "
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...Wikipedia says this about Beethoven's death - ".....Friends and visitors before and after his death clipped locks of his hair, some of which have been preserved and subjected to additional analysis, as have skull fragments removed during the 1862 exhumation. Some of these analyses have led to controversial assertions that Beethoven was accidentally poisoned to death by excessive doses of lead-based treatments administered under instruction from his doctor."
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Michael Jackson passed away yesterday, probably of a cocktail of painkillers given by his possibly well intentioned doctor. History runs its loop.

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A short distance from the house stands this unusual cross. Methinks it was originally a dovornnem, a masonry platform used to relieve the head loads of travellers in an era when there were no motorized vehicles of any kind. The cross was erected later, keeping the dovornnem still functional.
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Work and worship. Relief for the body and the soul. Beethoven's music aspired for the highest of high. So that we who work wearily may lift our souls heavenwards on the wings of song.
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Thank you, Ludwigbab. We are honoured to have you in Goa.

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José Lourenço - Margao,Goa

This blog is about Goa as she really is, with her dimples and freckles et al. There's also a Goan Architecture blog and other useful links on this page.

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