story of Goans in Pakistan is complete without mention of the unique and
unsung role of a patriotic Goan in the making of the National Anthem of
Tolly (as he was popularly known) passed away on December 6, 1955, eight years after Pakistan achieved independence. He lived at No. 2, Rasoolji Building, a magnificent stone-structure on Mansfield Street, Saddar, Karachi. It was demolished to be replaced by a monstrous concrete building called Jabbar Plaza.
As Bandmaster of a military band (earlier in his music career, at the age of 18 years, he had conducted a full military band of 120 men) he composed a number of marches, waltzes and incidental music for ballets or operettas. Three of his compositions were published in the 1920s - The Officers March, Dewan-e-Khas and Barcelona Waltz.
From what has been received from Tolletine's relatives, mostly abroad
and some here, in simple and explicit detail, it can be safely assumed
that the musician par excellence had played a pivotal role in the
composition of the national anthem of Pakistan. The following is an
excerpt from notes received from Mr. Fonseca's relatives:
Wikipeda observes: "The National Anthem Committee (NAC) examined several different tunes and selected a tune presented by Chagla which was submitted for formal approval. Chagla then produced the musical composition in collaboration with another committee member (could this have been Tollentine??) and assisted by the Pakistan Navy band."
To corroborate what Wikipedia published on this subject, a hand-written note of the Late Beatrice Fernandes (Tolly's favorite niece whose piano-playing skills were recognized by the great musician) says, Quote: "Pertaining to the Pakistan Anthem, I accompanied Uncle Tolli when he conducted the Pakistan National Anthem played by the Navy Band at the time (in early 50s) and showing the young bandmaster the intricacies of the music he was conducting." Unquote
Furthermore, I was happy to receive another piece of interesting document written and signed by none other than Rev. Fr. D'Arcy A. D'Souza (who passed away recently in 2009 at the age of 96 years in Karachi) with the title "Pak Sarzamin – Who Wrote the Music" penned on November 1, 1993. He writes:
Quote: ...two of his nieces, Beatrice Fernandes 84, and Mona Fonseca 77, reside in Karachi, I visited them on April 6 of this year. This is what they related to me concerning the National Anthem:
1. Uncle Tolly and Ahmed Chagla were great personal friends and as such Ahmed was a frequent visitor of the family and very well known to the girls since childhood. In the early days of Pakistan (when the euphoria was very high at having at last won a homeland...), Ahmed came over on a visit and made the following suggestion: "Tolly, I have a big favor to ask of you, I want you to compose some really stirring music for our National Anthem, but..."
2. Tolly worked at the composition several times. Repeatedly, Chagla wasn't satisfied. He found it too Western in parts and asked for changes.
3. When Chagla rejected the 6th attempt, Tolly was exasperated, "Look, Ahmed," he said, "I'm going to make one last attempt. If you reject it, then don't ask me any more."
4. Tolly worked hard at the 7th attempt which Chagla accepted.
5. Tolly then took all the manuscripts from start to finish and handed them over to Chagla...
6. Beatrice who was a favorite of Uncle Tolly remembers accompanying him to the first rehearsal of the National Anthem by the Navy Band. All were pleased and happy with the effect – Unquote
The national anthem of Pakistan is one the finest in the world when its musical score is read and played correctly by a complete military band repertoire. I played a very important instrument, the tuba, in the St. Pats School Band and often wondered why the Instructor (Subedar Aladdin) would get upset if I would go missing on days when the Anthem was being rehearsed. It was he, who first informed me in the summer of 1975 that the anthem was believed to be composed by Tollentine Fonseca.
Notwithstanding the pioneering roles of the Late Abul Asar Hafeez Jallundhari (Words) and the Late Ahmed G. Chagla (Music) in giving our country a beautiful anthem, and the official honors conferred upon them, it would only be magnanimous of the Government of Pakistan to appreciate and recognize this claim of the Goan community and also give the Late Tollentine Fonseca his due share in the history of the National Anthem of Pakistan.
I am hopeful, with God's Divine Grace, something positive will come up from this information. Wherever it may reach and whatever conclusions people may come to, this occurrence of 'Chagla and Fonseca coming together in true national spirit and patriotism' giving our country a breathtaking anthem must be looked into. In any case, this supreme and priceless contribution will be the Goan community's humble gift to Pakistan, their home country.
salute to each and every member of the 35-piece Pakistan Navy Band who
played the National Anthem for the first time that historic day in 1953
- they too are the true heroes for having played every note of the
Anthem, under Tolly's baton, the way it was meant to be played - and
also deserve recognition by the Government of Pakistan.
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