The Goan violinist in Ceylon

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

In days gone by, Saligao was reputed all over Goa as a nursery of budding Goan musicians. In the 1940s and 50s when I was a young lad, almost every household in Saligao had at least one young member learning music at school, and many took additional private lessons. The violin was a very popular musical instrument then, as was the piano.

Even much earlier there had been well known private music schools in the village of Saligao that were famous in Goa and produced Goan musicians that distinguished themselves in Goa, Bombay and far beyond. The music school in Saligao run by Francisco Salvador Campos at the St Cajetan Chapel in Arrarim (Santo Caetano Chapel School) gave to India some of the outstanding Goan musicians from Saligao such as Hermenegildo Coelho and Caetano Paulo de Souza (both violinists) and Otolino de Souza (pianist). There being no pianos easily available in Saligao in those days of the late-1800s, Francisco taught the young Otolino (father of Hubert de Sousa and grandfather of Fr. Desmond D’Souza C.Ss.R.) the rudiments of piano playing on a cardboard with piano keys painted on!

Among famous Goan musicians, one of the remarkable Goan violinists from the village of Saligao was Adriano Daniel Fernandes who hailed from the Cotula ward in Saligao. He made a name for himself in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and often hit the newspaper headlines for his music accomplishments. In that country he conducted the Adrian Daniel School of Violin, which became a nursery for budding violinists and produced top-rankers at the London Trinity College music examinations. The founder of the Calcutta School of Music, Dr Philip Sandre of France, under whose direction Adrian perfected his talent, spoke in laudatory terms of this great Saligaokar, for whom, as Shakespeare said, “Music is the food of love”.

Frank Moraes, that doyen among Indian journalists, who was for some time Editor of The Times of Ceylon, presiding at one of the well-attended public recitals, referred to the Adrian Daniel School of Violin in glowing terms and said that Adrian’s musicianship was of a high order when compared with the best he had heard in the various part of the world. Indeed, the violinist Adrian belonged to that fine brand of Goan musicians and composers for which Saligao has always been known and admired.

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