Daunting challenges ahead
2020 general election:
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), expected to comfortably win today’s parliamentary polls, has never been represented in parliament.
The SLPP is confident of a comfortable, simple majority, though, publicly, its leadership vows to secure a two-thirds majority. A two-thirds majority that hadn’t been achieved by any political party since the introduction of the Proportional Representation (PR) system, at the 1989 parliamentary polls, seems unrealistic.
The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), certain to win the second highest number of seats, has also never been in parliament. The SLPP and SJB are led by prime ministerial aspirants, Mahinda Rajapaksa (74) and Sajith Premadasa (53), respectively.
There are similarities in the SLPP and the SJB. Political strategist Basil Rajapaksa got the Lanka Jathika Peramuna (LJP) re-named as the Ape Sri Lanka Nidahas Peramuna, a few weeks before the 2015 August parliamentary polls, and then again registered the party as Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, on Nov 1, 2016. Former external affairs minister Prof. G.L. Peiris and Attorney-at-Law Sagara Kariyawasam received appointment as the Chairman, and Secretary, of the SLPP, respectively.
If not for the last minute agreement, between the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s group and the SLFP, the former was to contest the 2015 August parliamentary election, under the Ape Sri Lanka Nidahas Peramuna ticket.
In early 2020, Ape Jathika Peramuna (AJP) was re-named Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB). Sajith Premadasa and Ranjith Madduma Bandara received appointments as the Leader, and the Secretary of the SJB respectively. Both the LJP and the AJP had been totally ineffective, as political parties, though, today, they enjoyed political clout.
Of the seven previous general elections, since 1989, simple majority had been secured by the winning party twice, in 1989 (UNP) and 2010 (UPFA) during the second JVP-inspired insurgency, and the first countrywide poll, after the annihilation of the LTTE, in May 2009.
For the first time, the parliament will recognize two parties hitherto not represented in the House. Both the SLPP and the SJB emerged as major parties, at the expense of the SLFP and the UNP respectively, during the previous administration. The newcomers changed the political landscape completely. The SLFP ended up, at the 2020 general election, contesting all districts, except Jaffna and Kalutara, under the SLPP ticket, whereas the badly depleted UNP is likely to take a distant third place, in terms of the numbers of seats. The SLFP, too, is expected to be reduced to less than 10 seats.
The SJB is most likely to secure more than double, perhaps treble the number of seats won by the UNP at today’s poll, the third since the successful conclusion of the war, 11 years ago.
Before discussing the delayed 2020 poll further, it would be pertinent to mention the composition of the last parliament (August 2015-March 2020). As the writer pointed out earlier, the SLPP and the SJB hadn’t been represented in any of the previous parliaments. The last parliament consisted of UNP (106), UPFA (95), TNA (16), JVP (6), SLMC (1) and EPDP (1). Having fielded its candidates, under the UNP ticket, in most districts, at the last election, the SLMC won just one seat.
The JHU, ACMC and Tamil Progressive Front, too contested under the UNP ticket at the last election, but have now switched their allegiance to Sajith Premadasa like the SLMC, at the expense of beleaguered Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Of the 106 elected, and appointed, on the UNP ticket, at the last election, over 80 are in the fray, on the SJB ticket, whereas Wickremesinghe managed to retain about a dozen. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is among those who opted not to contest again. Jayasuriya, who had received significant backing from some members of the party, as well as a section of the civil society, to come forward as their presidential candidate, in 2019, quit the parliamentary contest, after having failed to thwart the break-up of the party.
Former National List member, Malik Samarawickrema, a close associate of Wickremesinghe, too, quit parliamentary politics. So did Mangala Samaraweera after having entered the fray from the Matara District on the SJB ticket.
Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri, who headed the high profile parliamentary probe into the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, ended up in the SJB’s Moneragala District nominations list.
Having handsomely won the 2018 February Local Government election and the 2019 November presidential poll, the SLPP faces the parliamentary poll confidently. The SJB knows of its inevitable defeat at today’s poll, though it seems happy breaking away from Wickremesinghe for once and for all.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who never bothered to take the membership of the SLPP, in spite being its presidential candidate, spearheaded the parliamentary polls campaign. There had never been a president, previously, who shunned political party membership. In other words, the cabinet is headed by a person, who is apolitical, a situation never experienced before.
Politicians, former Member of Parliament and various other interested parties, speculated about the number of seats that could be obtained by contesting parties. A former lawmaker, a respected professional, asserted that the SLPP might secure about 118, SJB 64, UNP 15, Tamil political parties 19 and the JVP 9. The former MP is of the view that frustrated UNPers and Muslims may vote for the JVP led Jathika Jana Balavegaya, hence the opportunity to improve its position in parliament. But its image has been somewhat tarnished after having been seen as a passive partner of the UNP during the last regime. The UNP being a right wing party throughout its history is anathema to any true Marxist and its leader was clearly involved in the brutal crushing of the JVP’s second uprising in the late 80s and killing of its then entire leadership, barring late Somawansa Amarasinghe, who survived by fleeing abroad.
The JVP fielded its candidates, through a coalition, in a bid to attract wider support at the expense of contesting under its own symbol. The JVP will find it difficult to at least retain the number of seats it received at the last parliamentary election. The six-member JVP parliamentary group included two National List members (defeated candidates Sunil Handunnetti and Bimal Ratnayake).
SJB survives unexpected onslaught
Sajith Premadasa’s SJB experienced unexpected onslaught in the run-up to the Aug 5 poll. UNP
Colombo district candidate, Oshala Herath, caused quite a stir by challenging the EC over the re-naming of the Ape Jathika Peramuna (AJP) as the SJB under controversial circumstances. The deal earned AJP Secretary Diana Gamage a slot in the SJB National List.
Having unsuccessfully moved the Supreme Court against the EC, in this regard, Herath, who had twice served President Maithripla Sirisena’s staff, received UNP membership and an opportunity to contest.
Before Herath received UNP membership, as well as nomination, Sirikotha declared that the party had nothing to do with the court action. Subsequently, Herath lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) as he pushed hard to disqualify the SJB.
In spite of his own party disowning him, the social media activist took on EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya. Herath released recorded conversations with Deshapriya as well as recordings at a church in Rajagiriya where he met Deshapriya in the company of UNP Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake in a bid to settle the matter. However, the SJB had the last laugh when all other contesting political parties accepted the EC’s version of events.
The UNP refrained from exploiting Herath’s shocking revelations that may have caused quite serious problems for the SJB. In a way, the SJB should be grateful to the UNP for not jeopardizing its campaign.
The SLPP and the JVP, too, conveniently refrained from taking up the issue, while election monitors, too, played it safe, much to the disappointment of Herath whose emergence as a UNP candidate, especially from Colombo, was made possible by the unprecedented UNP split.
Of the 11 elected from the Colombo district, at the last general election, eight (Patali Champika Ranawaka, Hirunika Premachandra, Dr. Harsha de Silva, Mujibur Rahman, S.M. Marikkar, Mano Ganesan, Eran Wickramaratne and Sujeewa Senasinghe), switched allegiance to Sajith Premadasa, who moved from Hambantota to Colombo. Except Eran Wickremaratne who opted to join the SJB National List, others are in the fray. Only Ravi Karunanayake remained with Wickremesinghe while the remaining ex-lawmaker Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, joined the SLPP.
A humiliated UNP struggled to field a team in Colombo. Its list is undoubtedly the weakest ever fielded in Colombo. The UNP in its desperation even accommodated tainted businessman A.S.P. Liyanage, who had received diplomatic postings both from Presidents, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena for being publicly servile to them. Of the 22 UNP candidates fielded in Colombo, there were only four former members of parliament (Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ravi Karunanayake, Daya Gamage and Sunethra Ranasinghe). Daya Gamage contested the last parliamentary polls from Digamadulla, while Sunethra Ranasinghe hadn’t been in parliament in its last term.
Oshala Herath is among those lucky to receive UNP nomination due to damaging split caused by dissidents. However, he proved his mettle as a fighter by pursuing an unprecedented strategy that exposed the utterly corrupt political set up.
UNP leader Wickremesinghe, SJB leader Premadasa and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake are in the fray in Colombo. Premadasa, who lost the last presidential election by a staggering 1.3 mn votes to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is expected to win his contest with his former leader. Will Premadasa be able to poll the highest number of preferences in Colombo by a candidate representing any party? Or will retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, or National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa, both contesting on the SLPP ticket take the honours.
Weerasekera is among nine candidates fielded by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, through his ‘Viyathmaga’ organization. Other ‘Viyathmaga’ contestants are Dr. Nalaka Godahewa (Gampaha), Anura Fernando (Colombo), Engineer Nalaka Kottegoda (Matale), Dr. Tilak Rajapaksha (Digamadulla), Dr. Upul Galapatti (Hambantota), Prof. Channa Jayasumana (Anuradhapura), Prof. Gunapala Ratnasekera (Kurunegala) and Attorney-at-Law Udayana Kirindigoda (Mahanuwara). The SLPP has also accommodated two ‘Viyathmaga’ members, Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Dr. Seetha Arambepola, on its National List.
Ratnapura HC ruling, other issues rattle SLPP
If not for the unprecedented crisis caused by the corona epidemic, the SLPP could have easily secured victory at the parliamentary polls, originally scheduled to take place on April 25. Unfortunately, for the SLPP, corona derailed its plans. However, even if election was held in a corona-free environment, as previously scheduled, the ruling party couldn’t have obtained a two-thirds majority. Seeking two-thirds, in terms of the PR system, is not possible at all.
Had the election been held on April 25 as previously scheduled, the SLPP could have avoided the fallout of the demolition of a part of an historical building in Kurunegala and death sentence given to an SLPP candidate. The delay, on the part of the government, resulted in some protests. A section of the assembly hall of King Bhuvanaikabahu II had been demolished on the orders of the Kurunegala Mayor. A divided SLPP struggled to cope up with the issue as Kurunegala heavyweight Johnston Fernando; one-time UNPer threw his weight behind the Kurunegala Mayor. The SLPP could have also avoided Ratnapura HC sentencing Ratnapura District candidate Premalal Jayasekera to death over his involvement in the 2015 January political murder, in the Kahawatte area on the eve of the January 2015 presidential election.
The protests by Colombo port workers, over Sri Lanka’s deal with India against the transfer of control of the ECT (East Container Terminal), too, disturbed the government as it sought Indian financial backing to overcome the crises caused by the corona pandemic. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda
Rajapaksa seeking Indian Premier Modi’s intervention, in the last week of May, led to July negotiations on re-scheduling of Lanka’s debt repayments.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa faces an unprecedented challenge. In fact, the economic challenge is even bigger than the conventional LTTE threat, previous presidents faced. Under the former Defence Secretary’s leadership, the new administration will have to work with the Opposition, whether it likes it or not, if it is genuinely interested in the wellbeing of the country. However, the SJB is unlikely to provide the required support, in parliament, to do away with the 19th Amendment, though the two parties can explore ways and means of reaching consensus on some matters.
With the country is in such a bad shape, economically, pivotal importance of consensus, among those political parties represented in parliament, at least between the government and the main Opposition, cannot be ignored.
The SLPP cannot pursue strategies, disregarding ground realities. With nearly one fifth of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s five-year term over, the SLPP has no option but to move fast, without getting embroiled in useless political dogfights.
Let us hope political parties wouldn’t seek to do away with the provision in the 19th Amendment to appoint no more than 30 ministers. The UNP conveniently reached an agreement with a section of the SLFP to form a national government in the wake of the 2015 general election. The UNP-SLFP arrangement paved the way for them to appoint more than 30 ministers, at the expense of the much-touted good governance promise.
Challenges in 2020 and beyond
The parliament comprises 196 elected and 29 appointed members. The SLPP and the SJB will face daunting challenge in picking their National List members. In the last parliament, the UNP had 13 National List slots, the UPFA 12, the TNA 2 and the JVP 2. The lion’s share of 29 National List slots is expected to be shared by the SLPP and the SJB, with the UNP most likely to obtain a couple of slots, though very much lower than the last time. The SLPP faces the daunting task in forming a 30-member cabinet with the inclusion of some new members. Will any successful ‘Viyathmaga’ candidates receive cabinet portfolios?
With the new parliament, scheduled to meet on August 20, the SLPP will have an opportunity to explore the possibility in reaching a consensus, with the Opposition, to secure the required two-thirds. If not there is bound to be plenty of horse trading to secure that illusive majority.
The case of misappropriation of billions of rupees that was lying at the Central Cultural Fund is certain to be a big stink with the active support of the UNP as was seen in the document leaked to the Sunday Times last weekend. Since Sajith Premadasa has much to answer it would be quite interesting how he deals with the victorious SLPP.
The government will have to address several issues. Among the contentious issues are (1) the proposed agreements with the US (MCC and SOFA) as President Sirisena finalized ACSA in August 2017, the controversial Singapore–Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, entered into in January 2018, co-sponsorship of the Geneva Resolution, in Oct 2015, bringing investigations into Central Bank bond scams to a successful end, tangible action on forensic reports that dealt with Treasury bond scams, and other major financial irregularities, both during UPFA and UNP-SLFP administrations, and the toxic UK garbage dumped, in the port of Colombo, et al. With the national economy in tatters, the parliament, as an institution, will have to play its classic role.
Ensuring financial discipline, and the introduction of new laws, must be the parliament’s primary objective, neglected by successive governments, over the years. It would be pertinent to remind what no less a person than the former Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajith Coomaraswamy said before the Presidential Commission, probing public sector corruption. Coomaraswamy urged the electorate to elect lawmakers capable of understanding public finance.
Dr Coomaraswamy said that the country was facing a non-virtuous cycle of debt and it was a very fragile situation which could even lead to a debt crisis. Arjuna Mahendran’s successor said that people should elect MPs who were prudent enough to handle fiscal and monetary matters of the country. “I’m not referring to any government, but it’s been the case ever since independence.
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‘Professor of English Language Teaching’
It is a pleasure to be here today, when the University resumes postgraduate work in English and Education which we first embarked on over 20 years ago. The presence of a Professor on English Language Teaching from Kelaniya makes clear that the concept has now been mainstreamed, which is a cause for great satisfaction.
Twenty years ago, this was not the case. Our initiative was looked at askance, as indeed was the initiative which Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare engaged in as UGC Chairman to make degrees in English more widely available. Those were the days in which the three established Departments of English in the University system, at Peradeniya and Kelaniya and Colombo, were unbelievably conservative. Their contempt for his efforts made him turn to Sri Jayewardenepura, which did not even have a Department of English then and only offered it as one amongst three subjects for a General Degree.
Ironically, the most dogmatic defence of this exclusivity came from Colombo, where the pioneer in English teaching had been Prof. Chitra Wickramasuriya, whose expertise was, in fact, in English teaching. But her successor, when I tried to suggest reforms, told me proudly that their graduates could go on to do postgraduate degrees at Cambridge. I suppose that, for generations brought up on idolization of E. F. C. Ludowyke, that was the acme of intellectual achievement.
I should note that the sort of idealization of Ludowyke, the then academic establishment engaged in was unfair to a very broadminded man. It was the Kelaniya establishment that claimed that he ‘maintained high standards, but was rarefied and Eurocentric and had an inhibiting effect on creative writing’. This was quite preposterous coming from someone who removed all Sri Lankan and other post-colonial writing from an Advanced Level English syllabus. That syllabus, I should mention, began with Jacobean poetry about the cherry-cheeked charms of Englishwomen. And such a characterization of Ludowyke totally ignored his roots in Sri Lanka, his work in drama which helped Sarachchandra so much, and his writing including ‘Those Long Afternoons’, which I am delighted that a former Sabaragamuwa student, C K Jayanetti, hopes to resurrect.
I have gone at some length into the situation in the nineties because I notice that your syllabus includes in the very first semester study of ‘Paradigms in Sri Lankan English Education’. This is an excellent idea, something which we did not have in our long-ago syllabus. But that was perhaps understandable since there was little to study then except a history of increasing exclusivity, and a betrayal of the excuse for getting the additional funding those English Departments received. They claimed to be developing teachers of English for the nation; complete nonsense, since those who were knowledgeable about cherries ripening in a face were not likely to move to rural areas in Sri Lanka to teach English. It was left to the products of Aluwihare’s initiative to undertake that task.
Another absurdity of that period, which seems so far away now, was resistance to training for teaching within the university system. When I restarted English medium education in the state system in Sri Lanka, in 2001, and realized what an uphill struggle it was to find competent teachers, I wrote to all the universities asking that they introduce modules in teacher training. I met condign refusal from all except, I should note with continuing gratitude, from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, where Paru Nagasunderam introduced it for the external degree. When I started that degree, I had taken a leaf out of Kelaniya’s book and, in addition to English Literature and English Language, taught as two separate subjects given the language development needs of students, made the third subject Classics. But in time I realized that was not at all useful. Thankfully, that left a hole which ELT filled admirably at the turn of the century.
The title of your keynote speaker today, Professor of English Language Teaching, is clear evidence of how far we have come from those distant days, and how thankful we should be that a new generation of practical academics such as her and Dinali Fernando at Kelaniya, Chitra Jayatilleke and Madhubhashini Ratnayake at USJP and the lively lot at the Postgraduate Institute of English at the Open University are now making the running. I hope Sabaragamuwa under its current team will once again take its former place at the forefront of innovation.
To get back to your curriculum, I have been asked to teach for the paper on Advanced Reading and Writing in English. I worried about this at first since it is a very long time since I have taught, and I feel the old energy and enthusiasm are rapidly fading. But having seen the care with which the syllabus has been designed, I thought I should try to revive my flagging capabilities.
However, I have suggested that the university prescribe a textbook for this course since I think it is essential, if the rounded reading prescribed is to be done, that students should have ready access to a range of material. One of the reasons I began while at the British Council an intensive programme of publications was that students did not read round their texts. If a novel was prescribed, they read that novel and nothing more. If particular poems were prescribed, they read those poems and nothing more. This was especially damaging in the latter case since the more one read of any poet the more one understood what he was expressing.
Though given the short notice I could not prepare anything, I remembered a series of school textbooks I had been asked to prepare about 15 years ago by International Book House for what were termed international schools offering the local syllabus in the English medium. Obviously, the appalling textbooks produced by the Ministry of Education in those days for the rather primitive English syllabus were unsuitable for students with more advanced English. So, I put together more sophisticated readers which proved popular. I was heartened too by a very positive review of these by Dinali Fernando, now at Kelaniya, whose approach to students has always been both sympathetic and practical.
I hope then that, in addition to the texts from the book that I will discuss, students will read other texts in the book. In addition to poetry and fiction the book has texts on politics and history and law and international relations, about which one would hope postgraduate students would want some basic understanding.
Similarly, I do hope whoever teaches about Paradigms in English Education will prescribe a textbook so that students will understand more about what has been going on. Unfortunately, there has been little published about this but at least some students will I think benefit from my book on English and Education: In Search of Equity and Excellence? which Godage & Bros brought out in 2016. And then there was Lakmahal Justified: Taking English to the People, which came out in 2018, though that covers other topics too and only particular chapters will be relevant.
The former book is bulky but I believe it is entertaining as well. So, to conclude I will quote from it, to show what should not be done in Education and English. For instance, it is heartening that you are concerned with ‘social integration, co-existence and intercultural harmony’ and that you want to encourage ‘sensitivity towards different cultural and linguistic identities’. But for heaven’s sake do not do it as the NIE did several years ago in exaggerating differences. In those dark days, they produced textbooks which declared that ‘Muslims are better known as heavy eaters and have introduced many tasty dishes to the country. Watalappam and Buriani are some of these dishes. A distinguished feature of the Muslims is that they sit on the floor and eat food from a single plate to show their brotherhood. They eat string hoppers and hoppers for breakfast. They have rice and curry for lunch and dinner.’ The Sinhalese have ‘three hearty meals a day’ and ‘The ladies wear the saree with a difference and it is called the Kandyan saree’. Conversely, the Tamils ‘who live mainly in the northern and eastern provinces … speak the Tamil language with a heavy accent’ and ‘are a close-knit group with a heavy cultural background’’.
And for heaven’s sake do not train teachers by telling them that ‘Still the traditional ‘Transmission’ and the ‘Transaction’ roles are prevalent in the classroom. Due to the adverse standard of the school leavers, it has become necessary to develop the learning-teaching process. In the ‘Transmission’ role, the student is considered as someone who does not know anything and the teacher transmits knowledge to him or her. This inhibits the development of the student.
In the ‘Transaction’ role, the dialogue that the teacher starts with the students is the initial stage of this (whatever this might be). Thereafter, from the teacher to the class and from the class to the teacher, ideas flow and interaction between student-student too starts afterwards and turns into a dialogue. From known to unknown, simple to complex are initiated and for this to happen, the teacher starts questioning.’
And while avoiding such tedious jargon, please make sure their command of the language is better than to produce sentences such as these, or what was seen in an English text, again thankfully several years ago:
Read the story …
Hello! We are going to the zoo. “Do you like to join us” asked Sylvia. “Sorry, I can’t I’m going to the library now. Anyway, have a nice time” bye.
So Syliva went to the zoo with her parents. At the entrance her father bought tickets. First, they went to see the monkeys
She looked at a monkey. It made a funny face and started swinging Sylvia shouted: “He is swinging look now it is hanging from its tail its marvellous”
“Monkey usually do that’
I do hope your students will not hang from their tails as these monkeys do.
Little known composers of classical super-hits
By Satyajith Andradi
Quite understandably, the world of classical music is dominated by the brand images of great composers. It is their compositions that we very often hear. Further, it is their life histories that we get to know. In fact, loads of information associated with great names starting with Beethoven, Bach and Mozart has become second nature to classical music aficionados. The classical music industry, comprising impresarios, music publishers, record companies, broadcasters, critics, and scholars, not to mention composers and performers, is largely responsible for this. However, it so happens that classical music lovers are from time to time pleasantly struck by the irresistible charm and beauty of classical pieces, the origins of which are little known, if not through and through obscure. Intriguingly, most of these musical gems happen to be classical super – hits. This article attempts to present some of these famous pieces and their little-known composers.
Pachelbel’s Canon in D
The highly popular piece known as Pachelbel’s Canon in D constitutes the first part of Johann Pachelbel’s ‘Canon and Gigue in D major for three violins and basso continuo’. The second part of the work, namely the gigue, is rarely performed. Pachelbel was a German organist and composer. He was born in Nuremburg in 1653, and was held in high esteem during his life time. He held many important musical posts including that of organist of the famed St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He was the teacher of Bach’s elder brother Johann Christoph. Bach held Pachelbel in high regard, and used his compositions as models during his formative years as a composer. Pachelbel died in Nuremburg in 1706.
Pachelbel’s Canon in D is an intricate piece of contrapuntal music. The melodic phrases played by one voice are strictly imitated by the other voices. Whilst the basso continuo constitutes a basso ostinato, the other three voices subject the original tune to tasteful variation. Although the canon was written for three violins and continuo, its immense popularity has resulted in the adoption of the piece to numerous other combinations of instruments. The music is intensely soothing and uplifting. Understandingly, it is widely played at joyous functions such as weddings.
Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary
The hugely popular piece known as ‘Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary’ appeared originally as ‘ The Prince of Denmark’s March’ in Jeremiah Clarke’s book ‘ Choice lessons for the Harpsichord and Spinet’, which was published in 1700 ( Michael Kennedy; Oxford Dictionary of Music ). Sometimes, it has also been erroneously attributed to England’s greatest composer Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695 ) and called ‘Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary (Percy A. Scholes ; Oxford Companion to Music). This brilliant composition is often played at joyous occasions such as weddings and graduation ceremonies. Needless to say, it is a piece of processional music, par excellence. As its name suggests, it is probably best suited for solo trumpet and organ. However, it is often played for different combinations of instruments, with or without solo trumpet. It was composed by the English composer and organist Jeremiah Clarke.
Jeremiah Clarke was born in London in 1670. He was, like his elder contemporary Pachelbel, a musician of great repute during his time, and held important musical posts. He was the organist of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and the composer of the Theatre Royal. He died in London in 1707 due to self – inflicted gun – shot injuries, supposedly resulting from a failed love affair.
The full title of the hugely famous piece known as ‘Albinoni’s Adagio’ is ‘Adagio for organ and strings in G minor’. However, due to its enormous popularity, the piece has been arranged for numerous combinations of instruments. It is also rendered as an organ solo. The composition, which epitomizes pathos, is structured as a chaconne with a brooding bass, which reminds of the inevitability and ever presence of death. Nonetheless, there is no trace of despondency in this ethereal music. On the contrary, its intense euphony transcends the feeling of death and calms the soul. The composition has been attributed to the Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni (1671 – 1750), who was a contemporary of Bach and Handel. However, the authorship of the work is shrouded in mystery. Michael Kennedy notes: “The popular Adagio for organ and strings in G minor owes very little to Albinoni, having been constructed from a MS fragment by the twentieth century Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto, whose copyright it is” (Michael Kennedy; Oxford Dictionary of Music).
The classical super-hit known as ‘Boccherini’s Minuet’ is quite different from ‘Albinoni’s Adagio’. It is a short piece of absolutely delightful music. It was composed by the Italian cellist and composer Luigi Boccherini. It belongs to his string quintet in E major, Op. 13, No. 5. However, due to its immense popularity, the minuet is performed on different combinations of instruments.
Boccherini was born in Lucca in 1743. He was a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart, and an elder contemporary of Beethoven. He was a prolific composer. His music shows considerable affinity to that of Haydn. He lived in Madrid for a considerable part of his life, and was attached to the royal court of Spain as a chamber composer. Boccherini died in poverty in Madrid in 1805.
Like numerous other souls, I have found immense joy by listening to popular classical pieces like Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, Albinoni’s Adagio and Boccherini’s Minuet. They have often helped me to unwind and get over the stresses of daily life. Intriguingly, such music has also made me wonder how our world would have been if the likes of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert had never lived. Surely, the world would have been immeasurably poorer without them. However, in all probability, we would have still had Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, Albinoni’s Adagio, and Boccherini’s Minuet, to cheer us up and uplift our spirits.
The Tax Payer and the Tough
By Lynn Ockersz
The tax owed by him to Caesar,
Leaves our retiree aghast…
How is he to foot this bill,
With the few rupees,
He has scraped together over the months,
In a shrinking savings account,
While the fires in his crumbling hearth,
Come to a sputtering halt?
But in the suave villa next door,
Stands a hulk in shiny black and white,
Over a Member of the August House,
Keeping an eagle eye,
Lest the Rep of great renown,
Be besieged by petitioners,
Crying out for respite,
From worries in a hand-to-mouth life,
But this thought our retiree horrifies:
Aren’t his hard-earned rupees,
Merely fattening Caesar and his cohorts?