V.Balsara - A Gentleman Musician

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Posted: 13 years ago

V. Balsara (A whole-hearted musician)
by Debtaru De

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His PIANO, UNIVOX and MELODICA, the instruments he loved, be it for composing music for films or otherwise, have come to personify the legend of Vistas Ardeshir Balsara (V. Balsara), the instrumentalist.


V. Balsara made an interesting comment, "Life is short but art and for that matter music is permanent. There is no death of a true art and so is it with music."


He says, "If I am asked to pray for one thing, I would only utter 'Give me strength to live a life full of rhythm and beauty and lead a life of dreams that never die."


His music, according to many stalwarts, will remain a treasure trove for future generations. He began his music career at the age of four.


Balsara who was greatly influenced by western music learnt to play the piano from Hildafield, a German musician.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His knowledge of the piano made him use it to play Indian classical music also with ease.


He mastered the technique of using the instrument for playing Indian classical music from Muneswar Dayal of Gaya.


He was equally at ease with string and wind instruments.


Born in June 1922, Balsara learnt music from his mother Nazamaye, and gave his first solo performance at the age of six with the pedal harmonium, in use in those times, at a packed C. J. Hall in Mumbai.


Barely ten years later, the young lad was assisting famous Music Director Ustad Mustaque Hussain, in a Bombay film production 'Baadal'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He had made a place for himself as a permanent assistant music director at the Filmistan studio under popular directors Madan Mohan, Khemchand Prakash and Ghulam Haider.


V Balsara's stint as a co-music director with the film 'Circus Girl' began in the year 1943. His very next venture 'Oh Panchi' showed a genius in the making.


From the obscure 'Circus Girl' in 1943 to O Panchi, Rangmahal, Madmast, Talash, Char Dost, Vidyapati and Pyar in Hindi.


Balsara became the orchestra director of HMV in 1947 and then joined the R.K. Films banner to work with the likes of Shankar Jaikishan and Naushad.


His popular scores include those in films like Chala Chal, Rater Andhkare and Sajani Go Sajani, which still remain fresh in our memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He had an enviable repertoire of the films like Madhu Shraboni, Joy Baba Baidyanath, Maa, Chalachal, Panchatapa, Subho Bibaha, Manik, Kanchan Kanya, Panna and Pathey Holo Dekha in Bengali.


After that he had left Mumbai because he felt that Kolkata could provide him 'the very platform and genuine atmosphere' a lover of music really needed to groom himself.


He settled in Kolkata in 1954 after he was invited by legendary musician Jnan Prakash Ghosh.


Balsara came to Kolkata in 1953 and had settled down in the city. He worked with masters of music like Rai Chand Boral, Pankaj Mullick and Hemanta Mukherjee in the '50s.


Basking in the audience appreciation during a musical soiree in Kolkata's Hindustan Park in 1953, the young musician decided to make this cultural capital his home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V. Balsara, the legendary music composer who was a wizard with instrumental orchestration, died in Kolkata on 24th March of cancer. He was 84. He was suffering from malignant tumour and other geriatric problems.


The ''gentleman musician'' had only his music for company in the twilight years after the death of his wife and two sons.


He had composed music for 32 Bengali films and 12 Hindi films during his career and has, it is claimed, over 200 albums to his credit.


The music-wizard was honoured recently through a documentary called a Homage To Balsara produced by A.V. Productions.


As the Founder Secretary of peer bodies like Bombay Cine Musicians' Association and Bombay Cine Music Directors' Association, Balsara earned the love and respect of his associates and young musicians.



Edited by adi_0112 - 13 years ago
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Posted: 13 years ago

 V Balsara - A Gentleman Musician

 Source : http://www.indiamusicinfo.com/articles/balsara.html


The 'gentleman musician', as the affable Parsi was known among friends, had only his music to give him company in the twilight years as he grappled alone with ill health in the absence of his wife and two sons had predeceased him.


The striking feature of Balsara was his never-say-die spirit. At 83, Balsara was still going strong on the music front with his Bengali film production 'Til Theke Taal' running in theatres in West Bengal.


He settled in Kolkata in 1954 after he was invited by legendary musician Jnan Prakash Ghosh, to the city. Earlier, he had been in Mumbai, then Bombay.


Born in June 1922, Balsara learnt music from his mother Nazamaye, and gave his first solo performance at the age of six with the pedal harmonium, in use in those times, at a packed C J Hall in Mumbai.


Barely ten years later, the young lad was assisting famous Music Director Ustad Mustaque Hussain, in a Bombay film production 'Baadal' and had made a place for himself as a permanent assistant music director at the Filmistan studio under popular directors Madan Mohan, Khemchand Prakash and Ghulam Haider.


Balsara had his brush with the who's who of the music world after he became the orchestra director of music company HMV in 1947 and then switched over to the R K Films banner three years later to work with the likes of Shankar Jaikishan and Naushad.

As the Founder Secretary of peer bodies like Bombay Cine Musicians' Association and Bombay Cine Music Directors' Association, Balsara earned the love and respect of his associates and young musicians.


Basking in the audience appreciation during a musical soiree in Kolkata's Hindustan Park in 1953, the young musician decided to make this cultural capital his home a year later with a prized film assignment 'Agni Pariksha'.


At the coveted New Empire Theatres, he charmed audiences again in 1962 arranging music for Rabindranath Tagore's celebrated play 'Debatar Grash' while debuting his own group the Indian Symphony Orchestra.


He gave Kolkata another first -- the city's maiden stereo recording in 1970 -- when he put together 'The Sound of Music' recording strains of four Indian instruments in one album.


He had to his credit numerous popular film albums, both in Hindi and Bengali, a language he chose to speak more frequently in and with much more ease than his native Gujrati.


From the obscure 'Circus Girl' in 1943 to O Panchi, Rangmahal, Madmast, Talash, Char Dost, Vidyapati and Pyar in Hindi to Madhu Shraboni, Joy Baba Baidyanath, Maa, Chalachal, Panchatapa, Subho Bibaha, Manik, Kanchan Kanya, Panna and Pathey Holo Dekha in Bengali, he had an enviable repertoire.


Balsara who was greatly influenced by western music learnt to play the piano from Hildafield, a German musician. His knowledge of the piano made him use it to play Indian classical music also with ease. He mastered the technique of using the instrument for playing Indian classical music from Muneswar Dayal of Gaya. He was equally at ease with string and wind instruments.


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Posted: 13 years ago

My days with Hemant-da by V. Balsara

(translated by Prithviraj Dasgupta)


(Source : http://faculty.ist.unomaha.edu/pdasgupta/hemanta/articles/in dex.html)


I have known him for more than 22 years. It was more than just knowing him, I was almost a part of his household. It was amazing how this exceptional person led such a simple life. He wore simple clothes, carried himself in a simple manner, all in all he lived life in a very simple way. Never did I notice any touch of ego within him. All this made him a very respectable person in everybody's eyes. I still hold him in that high esteem and will do so for the rest of my life. If I were to talk about his music, I would say that he was miles ahead of his contemporaries. His voice had a mystic romanticism inherently mixed within it.


I first met Hemant-da at the Filmistan Studios in Mumbai. The year was 1943. And after that I had been his constant companion for 22 years. Over those years I had not only worked with him, I had also lived with him, as a part of his household. I was fortunate indeed to have lived in the company of a such person. He was like an elder brother to me. I remember once when my mother fell ill, he told me not to worry anything about it and took care of her as a son would. Hemant-da knew how to create a good song. The proof of this lies in the melodies that he created. Only when he was satisfied with a song, would he go ahead and record it. He was extremely adept in composing music. His compositions were sure to touch people's hearts, to make a permanent seat in them. That is why those songs have become eternal, mesmerizing people even today.


Hemantda had tremendous determination and perseverance. Once we were recording a song at the India Labs of the New Theaters Studio. Power cuts were frequent those days and suddenly, half way through a recording session the power went away. Hemant-da was a person who wouldn't waste a single moment. He told me "Balsara, I am having some tooth problems over the last few days. I think I will go and have a dental surgery now." I was aghast, "But Hemant-da you have to record songs today". "Don't worry I'll be back". He returned after two hours and recorded two songs effortlessly. "Do these sound okay? If they aren't I'll record them again". The songs were superb. All of us found it difficult to believe how a person could record songs effortlessly immediately after a dental surgery - such was his strength of mind.


Hemant-da was great believer in the power of the divine. And perhaps it was this belief that helped him accomplish many difficult tasks. One we had gone to Silchar in Assam. Lots of people were waiting to hear Hemant-da sing. In the meantime, the cold weather of Silchar gave Hemant-da a terrible cold that caused his voice to go flat. Hemant-da was not a person to disappoint the thousands who had come to listen to him. He went on stage in that condition and announced "I am sorry that I have caught a cold. I can't even speak very well. But I will try my best to sing. Please be patient with me." He drew the harmonium towards himself and started to sing a Rabindrasangeet on a low scale. For the next song, he raised the scale a bit. By the fourth song, he was singing on his normal scale. There was no way to guess that Hemant-da's voice had completely cracked that morning. He continued singing for over an hour in that mellifluous voice.


My experinces with Hemant-da are innumerable. I will conclude with an incident that happened in 1967. Hemant-da was planning to go on a world tour that year. Personally, I was devastated at that time. A promising member of our team and a close friend Malay Mukhopadhyay had met with an untimely death. Another friend Arunabh Majumdar was battling death. I turned down Hemant-da's offer to accompany him on the tour abroad in this situation. But Hemant-da prevailed over me and took me with him to England, Holland, Japan, West Indies and other countries. Had I not acoompanied him on that trip I would never have known the high esteem and respect that the residents of these countries have for Indian music. At every place we visited, we were welcomed by a huge crowd that enthusiastically appreciated our music. It was as if we came, we saw and we conquered. In Surinam and West Indies, people flocked to Hemant-da just to to touch his feet. I had never seen such respect being paid to a musician. I wouldn't have believed, had I not seen it with my own eyes. He was truly a living legend who has surpassed his times through his music.

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Posted: 13 years ago

Musician Balsara passes away

Yahoo! India News Thu, Mar 24, 2005


Kolkata, March 24 (IANS) Veteran musician V. Balsara, who gained legendary status for his ability to play numerous instruments with equal elan, died here Thursday. He was 83.



Balsara, who was instrumental in launching the careers of legendary singers like Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey, was suffering from throat cancer. He died at his nephew's house. He had been admitted to hospital a few days ago.



After he began playing musical instruments at a very young age, Balsara scored the music for many Hindi and Bengali films. He had particular expertise in playing the violin, piano accordion and harmonica.



A Parsee, Balsara had migrated from Mumbai to Kolkata after coming in contact with Bengali musicians. He continued his association with music till almost his last days.


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Posted: 13 years ago

Saregama Album :A Tribute – Greatest Piano Maestro : V.Balsara


Saregama pays a musical tribute to the greatest ever Indian Piano Maestro V. Balsara who died in Kolkata on the 24th of March,2005 by releasing this album . The album presents the maestro with his piano and orchestra , performing 10 Indian raagas through orchestral compositions. V. Balsara was an institution in himself. An unassuming man with a ready smile, deft fingers that have an unmatched mastery over a large variety of musical instruments, a keen musical sense and a deep commitment to the cause of good music. V.Balsara was a force to reckon with for more than five decades. He was a versatile music composer, music director, music teacher and a practising musician of redoubtable repute.


This album is a collectors item for all those music lovers who want Indian classical music melodies performed on the most popular western musical instrument- the Piano !


The ragaas performed here are :

1. Raaga Bilawal : In this raaga, all the notes are natural. Sometimes,the fourth note i.e.subdominan, is omitted in the ascending scale. The rhythmic pattern is known as tin-taal, having 4 baars of 4 beats each i.e. one complete round of 16 beats. In this composition there are passages of bow-instruments,such as violins and cello, and stroke instruments like sitar, Sarod, Turbophone and bells.

          http://www.sendspace.com/file/35w6py

2. Raaga Khamaj : The adlib Piano solo shows how the melody changes from Bilawal to Khamaj raaga, the seventh note being flattened in the descending scale and the second note,i.e the supertonic being omitted in the ascending. This composition starts with a combination of three Indian Bamboo flutes in three different octaves. It is a slow waltz, which is known as Taal dadra in Indian music. The piece continues with a duet of two typical bowed instruments knows as Tarshehnai and Dilruba. In the middle, the rhythmic pattern changes to Taal khemta, equivalent to the western rhythmic of 6/8 time signature. \this rhythm is very much attached to Indian folk music.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/xti3sq

3.Raaga Kaafi : The Piano solo changes the natural third note mediant to flat, resulting in a scale with the 3rd and the 7th notes flat, though as accidentals they are sometimes used as a natural. The rhythmic pattern is known as Jhaptal, having two bars of 5 beats each, a complete Round of 10 beats, equivalent to the western 5/4 times signature, which changes to Kaharwa i.e. 2/4 electric guitar features on the solo instruments.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/7eqssr

4.Raaga Asavari : The sixth note, i.e. the submedian, which was a natural in Kafi, gets changed to flat, during the linking piano solo, giving us a scale having 3rd,5th, and 7th notes, compulsorily flat, without any accidentals. While ascending, the 2nd and the 7th notes are omitted. A typical Indian wind instrument Shehnai,similar to the western Oboe, features in some solo passages. There is also a Cello solo. The Indian Rhythm is Deepchandi, having 14 beats, equivalent to the western time signature 7/4. At a certain time the taal changes into quick Tevra of 7 beats only equivalent to 7/8.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/w0gkma

 

5.Raaga Bhairavi : The piano solo flattens the 2nd note, resulting in a scale having 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th as flat, though the 2nd note is very rarely played natural, as an accidental. Though it is strictly an Indian raaga still it has an oriental color and hence the instrumentation is also oreintalised in the first portion. The second portion in quick 2/4 , takes you back to the old Indian rustic and exciting rhythm of the Indian street drama music and dance. The rhythm changes with the entry of a big percussion instrument called bengali Dhol, played with sticks, accompanied by the Indian Tambourine etc.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/cwbuc3

 6.Raaga Bhairav : This scale , Having the 2nd and the 6th notes flat, others being natural, has a peculiar attachment to early morning.Thus, the introduction of this side gives you a picture of a slow sunrise,he cuckoo sound with typical flutes,bells etc. The orchestra starts in the rhythm jhaptal,5/4, as in Kafi and changes to Tri-taal of 16 beats,2/4. After some passages on flutes and violins the piece ends in a typical jhala in sitar and sarod.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/kd6cxl

7.Raaga Yaman : The Piano is now trying to change the 2nd and the 6th notes to natural, which were flat in Bhairav and then it changes the 4th note i.e. The sub dominant to sharp, which was being played natural until now in all the previous raagas. The tonic is omitted while ascending, starting the scale from 7th note leading to the 2nd. This raaga starts with a solo on the big bamboo bass Flute, producing rich mellow tonal quality, continued by Tarshehnai, Dilruba Shehnai and Violins. The piece is in slow waltz, Dadra, which changes to slow Khemta i.e.6/8,creating a devotional atmosphere due to the Indian Percussion knows as Khol, and a small instrument names Mandira. These two instruments are essential for any devotional music.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/qagqyn

8.Raaga Marwa : The linking Piano adlib piece flattens the 2nd note, and discards the entire use of the dominant note i.e. the 5th. The use of of yet another percussion instrument Pakhawaj,with the fusion of western instruments like the Trumpet, Saxophone and clarionet, produces a peculiar effect of the bengali "Jatras" where since many years ago, the cornet and the high pitch clarionet was a MUST especially for war-like scenes of the ancient Gods. This number is in tevra, i.e.7/8.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/ipmbrs

9.Raaga Purvi :The addition of the 5th note, flattening of the 6th, and keeping the 4th sharp as it was is what the piano is playing. The 4th is rarely used as natural as accidental. It is a lilting piece in Tritaal of 16 beats. Besides the solo pieces, there are some quick and short inetrchanging passages between Sitar, Sarod and Flute.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/rxmlft

10.Raaga Todi : Flattening of the third note to the previous Raaga Purvi, produces Todi. The use of the 5th is very rare, and selected. Though the beats are 16 in number, they are in very slow tempo,with effects of Ghungroo etc.to give the color of a kathak dance number, with a sweet solo of electric guitar. The Tempo changes to double and ultimately gets to four times faster ending ina reply piece between the Sitar, Sarod and the Orchestra, with a final jhala.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/u9yf3t


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Posted: 13 years ago

Here is the site I found you can download MP3 of Balasara's music, but they are not complete songs...just samples around 20 sec each..

\BanglaMp3\V. Balsara - Instrumental\ 
 Ei Monihar Amai\
 Rabindra Shanjeet\
 Suhana Safar\

http://bangla.homeip.net:8000/BrowseMp3.asp?sub=V.%20Balsara %20-%20Instrumental%5C

Edited by manjujain - 13 years ago
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Posted: 13 years ago

The Telegraph

< name=frm>
Friday, March 25, 2005
Virtuoso steeped in music
V. Balsara: Legendary

V. Balsara, synonymous with the sound of music in the city, died on Thursday afternoon. The legendary pianist and composer was 83.

Balsara, known for his versatility with an array of musical instruments, had been suffering from geriatric problems for the past few months and was undergoing treatment at his nephew?s residence in Ballygunge Park.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday expressed grief over the death of the virtuoso, who had been honoured with a D.Lit by Visva-Bharati, among a number of other awards.

Talking to reporters at Writers? Building on Thursday, the chief minister said Balsara?s contributions to the world of music and as president of the Sangeet Research Academy were immense.

A thin, frail man, Balsara always amazed with his verve and energy and went on composing music for Bengali as well as Hindi films till the end.

Though essentially a western composer, Balsara traversed the Indian classical terrain with consummate ease.

He had composed music for a number of Tagore poems, like Debotar Grash.

Balsara would often fuse eastern and western elements of music but was loath to call it fusion. ?I merge pure Indian classical music with the most modern rhythms,? Balsara had told Metro during an interview at his Bowbazar house late last year. ?In fact, I am allergic to the word fusion,? he had insisted.

Not known to mince words, Balsara said when asked about his views on the current music scenario in the country: ?Earlier, music accompanied the song, now the song accompanies the orchestra. As a result, earlier we used to hear the song and now we hear the orchestra.? He had added, diplomatically: ?But that is the current trend and I respect it.?

Those close to him say Balsara had an amazing sense of humour and was a thorough gentleman. ?He was the most wonderful person I have ever met and a very talented musician of his time,? said Usha Uthup from Delhi.

Sitar player Anirban Chatterjee echoed her views. He had the opportunity of working with Balsara while composing music for the International Festival of Non-Verbal Arts 2004.

?Apart from music, I loved spending time with him. You could spend hours listening to his views on life,? said Chatterjee.

Immersed in music, Balsara led a lonely life. He suffered the misfortune of attending the funeral of most of his loved ones, including his wife and two sons.

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Posted: 13 years ago
Thanks Adi for this thread.

Mr Balsara was really a gentleman. I have met him at very very close quater thanks to Barnalidi. Have had few conversations also with him. And can say one thing.... The man was simple in his thoughts and very soft spoken. Wish Barnalidi was here to add to this thread. She was very closely associated with him and has some really nice memories.

Lets me see if I can get his recordings from her then will upload them here. Infact I think she also has few video recordings of him talking about music. Will try to get them.



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