Balthazar Fernandes – Bollywood’s best kept secret

by | Sep 6, 2020 | Musical journeys | 0 comments

I am Balthazar Fernandes, son of Manuel & Rosa Maria Fernandes of Madel Chorao, Ilhas Goa. I was born on the 12th of June, 1941, in Bombay. My Parents and I moved to Goa within a year of my birth, where I spent my childhood. The Portuguese ruled Goa then. The parochial churches had their own schools and education was sponsored by the church. Here, students were provided with a basic knowledge of reading and writing Portuguese books and music. Education in Music included simple exercises of singing and writing in solfeggio. Besides this, schools trained students in singing parts or vocal voicing for hymns and two part harmonies. Goan folk music, hymns and songs in general incorporate this training and thus are mainly sung in two parts (in 3rds or 6ths), or one voice ascending and the other voice descending in thirds or sixths, or counter parts.

In 1951, my parents decided to move back to Bombay, (in a newly independent India), where education was systematic and comprised of a curriculum from standard I to XI. My parents took up jobs to afford life in Bombay. My father was the Chef for the Maharaja of Dhrol, my mother was a governess for a wealthy Parsee family in Worli and I was in the boarding at St. Francis D’Assisi in Borivili and attended St. Francis School. It was in the boarding that I had the opportunity to learn the violin. In Goa, the teachers were strict and refused to teach the violin till I learnt to sing solfeggio of two masses, and so I hadn’t carried my violin to Bombay. There was no such rule in the boarding school, but I needed a violin. I asked around and one of the students let me borrow his violin. Eventually, I got my violin back from Goa and was completely engrossed in learning and playing the instrument.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MUSIC? WHO WERE YOUR INITIAL TEACHERS? I was offered a job as violin teacher as soon as i completed my studies. A bunch of foreigners had donated some brass and wood-wind instruments to the school. This was my opportunity to learn and teach these instruments. During this period, I also learnt from Josic and Myra Menzie & Micael Martins and got a Licentiateship from The Trinity College London (LTCL) in music. Besides this, I had the opportunity of learning Harmony and Counterpoint from the Director of Max Mueller Bhavan, Mr. Joaquim Buehler from Germany. Simultaneously, I started receiving jobs from the film industry. I was approached by a musician, composer and conductor of the orchestra from the industry to help him write music. He went on to producing and composing music for two of his Konkani films and later on also produced two Hindi films. This man was none other than the famous Frank Fernand. He taught me the ropes of the industry and also introduced me to the famous director duo Kalyanji-Anandji.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
– The church & my father were a major influence.
– Playing with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra was inspirational.
– In the Film Industry we would have to record up to 60 musicians, which was very inspiring, also recording for CMA or orchestrating.

MUSICAL PREFERENCES AND STYLES?
Western Classical music with many parts and variations, counter pointal melodic compositions.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT MUSIC?
Polyphonic music in an orchestra, the music or sound coming from all sides.

FAVOURITE MUSICIANS?
Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Itzhak Perlman and Yehudi Menuhin

MEMORABLE GIG?
The Swan Lake Ballet: Soloist & performing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU LOOK BACK? I am very grateful for all the blessings and opportunities i’ve received in my life, they have played a vital role in shaping my career as a musician. I WOULD LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR: Arranging ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’, ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ etc. MOTTO I LIVE BY: You do your best and trust in God.