By Austin Fernando
(Former High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India)
There is an ongoing discussion on higher education ‘reforms’ in Sri Lanka. Our higher education issues are similar to those in India. We may learn from India though its issues are different in some respects.
Indian education approaches
In India, higher education is administered by the University Grants Commission of India, which enforces the standards, advises the government, and enables co-ordination between the centre and the States.
India’s emphasis is on science and technology in tertiary education. Indian education sector has many technology institutes, and distance learning and open education programmes. Some of the institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, are globally acclaimed. Their alumni have contributed to the growth of the Indian private and public sectors and some foreign organisations.
Indians also have the capacity to cooperate. Incidentally, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa could request PM Narendra Modi as he did the Chinese dignitary Yang Jiechi, to invest in a specialised university/ institutes of technology in Sri Lanka.
Even under the British, India remained focused on higher education. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has control over universities. The States also administer universities. The Central Universities are maintained by the Union government. As for access higher education opportunities in India, there is a triple-track approach involving the Union government, State governments, and the private sector. As for access to higher education in the Indian states, Sri Lanka could have done something similar under Item 4 of the Concurrent List- 13th Amendment, but it never happened.
Apart from the several hundred state universities, in India, there are research institutions providing opportunities for advanced learning and research in branches of science, technology, and agriculture. Several of these have won international recognition. The Swaminathan Institute in Chennai is an example Sri Lanka could emulate. Higher-level involvement with them could develop knowledge and research standards, especially to supplement our development efforts in the agricultural sector, etc.
In India, technical education has developed fast during recent years, and the enrolled numbers show that about 20% join the engineering field. There is also a corresponding increase in high-standard computer scientists.
There are 371 State Private Universities and 304 State Public Universities in India. Private sector involvement in higher education is satisfactory. Our education authorities can learn from India how this can be achieved. In Sri Lanka, pressure is brought to bear on governments whenever an attempt is made to open a private university. Governments cave in to pressure. Private sector higher education involvement is at a very satisfactory level in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. Being a large country, this is not surprising. In our provinces, a few branches of private sector University Campuses have been established.
The Bangalore Urban District tops the list in the number of colleges numbering 880, followed by Jaipur with 566. Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have about 88% private-unaided Colleges, and Tamil Nadu has 87% Private-unaided Colleges, whereas Assam has only 16.0%. Assam deserves more investment as it lacks facilities for gaining knowledge, skills, development, connectivity, proper attitudes, but it is ignored by investors. Sri Lankan investors have a similar attitude towards the underdeveloped districts. If the private sector is reluctant to invest, the State should contribute to the development of universities.
The Indian experience in private sector engagement in higher education could be a guide for us. Within a decade, different State Assemblies have passed statutes for private universities. Well-known business houses have invested in this field. The Birla Institute of Technology and Science and the Jindal Global University may serve as examples. Dealing with them will enhance business for them and local counterparts, and supplement the knowledge hub intentions of the President.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, some of our educational arrangements with Australia, the US, and the west have been disturbed. Due to positive publicity for our COVID-19 management, opportunities may present themselves for Sri Lankan educational organisations. They could prepare students here for graduation at developed country universities. Sri Lankan authorities may approach these universities to conduct specific courses of study locally.
However, the government must create an environment for these interventions that have been opposed by some professional associations. This attitude could be a constraint, especially in the fields of Medicine, Engineering, and Information Technology. In all three sectors, the performance of Indians has been outstanding.
Graduate unemployment is an issue in both India and Sri Lanka. If our graduates are not attractive to the private sector, it could be they do not hold marketable, quality degrees. There could be other considerations (e. g. English knowledge, school connections, social standing, etc.), restricting ordinary persons’ entry to the private sector. In India, these social constraints are much heavier. However, if the need is to produce quality graduates attractive in the job market, university authorities and the government should work towards that goal.
Education and economic development
Strategising higher education through universities to reinforce emerging economies is an area that has attracted the attention of several countries, and we can learn about such developments from India. In this regard, we may pay attention to the United Nations Academic Initiatives (UNAI) guidance. The UNAI promotes ten basic principles and commitment to human rights, equal chances, sustainability, global citizenship, and intercultural dialogue, etc. Institutional cooperation extends to a scientific exchange of thoughts, and collaborative research that should exhibit collective higher education impact on society.
In poor societies, entrepreneurship is backward due to shortage of financial resources, knowledge, skills, and attitudinal factors. Issues like collaterals dissuade borrowings. The challenge for universities is to strategise avenues for resource mobilisation, entrepreneurship development and convince financiers, bureaucrats, and politicians to tag along with evolved strategies.
Potential focus areas and
Interventions to advance peace and conflict resolution through education are important. The expertise to inquire, advise and report to the UN on member country for ‘bad behavior’ as regards human rights, etc., is possessed mostly by the West, where it is developed in universities. Therefore, domestic universities could contribute to international conflict resolution as well. Commitment of universities in emerging economies to conducting courses on peace and conflict resolution, in keeping with the UNAI Principles, is less.
Right now, the world has evinced and interest in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Universities can contribute to achieving these goals by promoting SDGs through education, research and documentation. For example, health/education/agriculture/environment can be researched, and universities can share promotional and management inputs.
Since SDGs are about improving lives, they are essential to everyone. Therefore, any commitment or use of resource will serve the communities universally. This is how the global citizenship aspect of UNAI will work. The intellectual and international dialogues will be the modus operandi for universality. If citizen-serving universities’ final output is producing book worms, then they will fail. Appropriate research publications come out from many Indian universities, which is a good sign.
The commitment to promoting inter-cultural dialogue and understanding, and the ‘unlearning’ of intolerance through higher education bring solace. India’s culture, history, and civilisation are unique. Therefore, the Indian universities can have a cultural dialogue. It can be done through international students and scholars entering Indian universities to share knowledge. Sri Lankans can have a share of it. It will lead to the strengthening of political and economic ties created through these scholars.
One crucial issue is whether private schools/universities focus on peoples’ needs or on preparing affluent students for foreign education. If it is the latter, social responsibility expected of a university will be lacking. In Sri Lanka, international schools mostly cater to the rich and focus on foreign higher education. It is crucial that universities serve the common man in emerging economies through interventions and inventions to reach higher technology or knowledge hubs or connectivity to value chains. Operationalising those systems will be the responsibility of government/state functionaries, and related private educational institutions. Offering scholarships for the needy is one way to achieve this objective.
The provision of higher education in the underdeveloped Indian States is aimed at promoting equality. It is applicable to Sri Lanka too. College density, i. e., the number of colleges per 100,000 eligible persons (in the age-group 18-23 years) varies from seven in Bihar to 53 in Karnataka. The all-India average is 28. Does not Bihar deserve better facilities?
Wasn’t this the reason for coining the slogan, kolombata kiri, gamata kekiri (milk for Colombo and kekiri or melon for the village), in the late 1980s, in this country?
The latest from India in the field of education is most encouraging. India with international tech giants headed by Indians the world over is planning to bring some of the best universities to India. This will provide Indian students with world-class exposure. According to the latest reporting (https://piotv.com/news/India), “the Indian government is pushing to overhaul the nation’s heavily regulated education sector to attract nearly 750,000 students who spend about $15 billion each year pursuing degrees overseas.” Although there is a mismatch as regards “internationally acclaimed tech giants,” numbers, and the expense, are not we facing the same problem? Nevertheless, the solution is the same. Reports say that ‘it represents a change of heart on the part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which has for long resisted opening up the country’s education sector. India needs to boost its education sector to become more competitive and close the growing gap between college curriculum and market demands’. Every Sri Lankan government has sought this ‘boost’ for the same reasons but baulked due to protests. Now, we are waiting for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to make a difference.
Some Indian universities have already set up partnerships, allowing students to complete the preliminary levels of their foreign degree programmes in India before going overseas for graduation. This happens in Sri Lanka as regards a few private sector Campuses/ Institutions, supported by some British, American, and Canadian universities. For us approaching Indians for appropriate higher education will be less costly.
The current Indian move encourages the overseas institutions to set up campuses without local partners. This approach will suit our needs too since the demand for and the supply of suitable graduates for employment, thirst for appropriate education, lack of finances for heavy infrastructure development required for higher education, etc. could thereby be met. It is the will to break away from the grip of conservatism that is needed. We will fail if we fear protests. Additionally, our Birlas, Jindhals also should volunteer to undertake this human resource development effort.
Another report on India in the public domain is worth paying attention to. It is from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It states that India’s unemployment rate hit a three-year-high of 8.4% in August 2019. It notes that the unemployment rate has been the highest level since September 2016. If unemployment increases with the expansion of higher education, it is a challenge to India. Although I lack statistics, the situation is similar in Sri Lanka as well. I recall that some graduates who staged fasts, demanding jobs, in the East in 2017, told me as Governor that they had advised their brothers not to pursue higher education, and to join the state service as clerks instead.
Literature reviews show that unemployment levels in India increase with the rise in educational standards. It has also happened in Sri Lanka, which has a large numbers of arts graduates. Most of them lack knowledge of English, and the private sector businesses expect proficiency of English of graduates. The graduates stage demonstrations, demanding jobs, especially during election times. We have seen how the Kumaratunga, Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa governments succumbed to pressure from protesters and offered jobs, and how the Ranil Wickremesinghe government partially succumbed and totally failed politically!
In India, it is believed that unemployment is negligible among the uneducated. But it stands at 15%, roughly twice the national average of unemployment rate among graduates. Further, they say that unemployment is insignificant among those who have not gone beyond primary education, mainly because they cannot afford to be unemployed, if they want to survive.
According to CMIE, there are a little over ten crore graduates in India, and 6.3 are in the labour force waiting to be employed-willing and available for work. Of these, 5.35 crore have some employment, leaving 0.95 crore, mostly youth with a basic degree or even a higher degree, unemployed. The same survey says that while more women are getting some education, the unemployment rate among them is 17.6%, more than double the rate for men. Although it is not so severe in Sri Lanka if we do not handle it carefully, we will be reaching the same level, albeit with fewer numbers. This will counter to the UNAI’s gender disparity and poverty alleviation principles. Educationists should ask themselves whether universities address these disparities.
Firstly, it is suggested that foundations for a successful career-oriented graduate preparation be laid at primary and post-primary schools. For instance, language competency, modern ‘machine use’ like computers, mathematical and scientific tools in education should commence there. Private schools in Sri Lanka do this, like in India. However, rural schools should follow suit. The State and Provincial Council budgets should provide resources.
Secondly, education to facilitate economic development should receive priority. In emerging economies, the agricultural and industrial potential has to be tapped fully. Curriculum development should focus on areas these sectors are interested in. Having many arts graduates is good for bloating statistics but not for development—it is 36% in India and high in Sri Lanka as well.
Thirdly, do we need a contented graduate population to develop the economy? Do the universities help the farmers, who need access to scientific and technical know-how, or the factory owners who want updated, efficient, and adequate technical/technological knowhow? Universities must give the society and the economy what the current and next generations require. Therefore, they say that ‘education is the passport to the future; for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today’.
We must create cells for skill development and technological transformation in keeping with the production mechanisms and management milieu. University Senates and the Treasury may say this is expensive. If so we have to respond saying, “If you think education is expensive, marry ignorance.” Which would we prefer? Having a former Vice-Chancellor at the helm of Education we expect positive responses. These must be addressed to produce graduates needed by the emerging economies. Otherwise, our universities will continue to be only ‘graduate producing factories’.
Fourthly, it is necessary to prepare the educated for self-employment. The standard banking lending systems, demanding collaterals for borrowing, etc. from the poor, who are dispossessed, must be reconsidered. New lending tools must be formulated by the Central Bank and the commercial banks in tandem. Combining transfer of produce to markets, product integration, institutional upgrading, and supporting graduates to take to small and medium enterprises must receive priority.
Fifthly, university education cannot be a standalone function of static existence. The academics should be continuously trained in new methodologies, and they must keep abreast of international standards and developments.
Learning from Gandhi Ji
Finally, with great reverence to Gandhi Ji, I quote what he said about education” “True education must correspond to the surrounding circumstances, or it is not a healthy growth.” What surrounds us? It may be poverty, or lack of entrepreneurship or productivity, sharing knowledge or appropriate technology or business skills or product research, and marketing. There could be more.
These issues should be addressed by universities. Developed countries addressed them even before we dreamt of doing so because they understood that university education had to correspond to the surrounding circumstances. They apparently learned from Gandhi Ji before we did. We are late learners and learn from second-hand sources!
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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?