The link between Thai & Western music

The link between Thai & Western music

The composer who worked to link Thai & Western music, Prasidh Silapabanleng (son of Luang Pradit Phairoh), was born 100 years ago next month.


Photo above of a poster with the late national artist Prasidh Silapabanleng as a ranad maestro and conductor. 

Click button to listen to Link between Thai and Western Music download

Music

Hailing the Hero

Concert celebrates the centennial of Prasidh Silapabanleng who crucially forged the link between Thai and Western music
14/08/2012
Ploenpote Atthakor

Next month Thailand will mark the centenary of the birth of its most celebrated composer, Prasidh Silapabanleng (1912-1999), best remembered for forging the crucial link between Thai and Western classical music, with a concert at Chulalongkorn University.

The son of Thai classical maestro Luang Pradit Phairoh (Sorn Silapabanleng, 1881-1954), Prasidh initially trained as a pianist before studying Western music composition at a university in Japan, the first Thai to do so.

Prasidh grew up at a time when Thai classical music was at its peak, before hitting a low during the 1940s as a result of the Pibulsongkram government's pro-West policy.

Fans of the film Homrong (The Overture) will still remember the scene in which Sorn, the lead character playing the ranad, is locked in a duel with his son who is on piano, during a rendition of the evergreen song Lao Duangduen.

Even though the audience at the time got the impression that the father didn't approve of his son's interest in Western music, the opposite is true.

According to Prasidh's son Kulthorn Silapabanleng, it was his grandfather Sorn who sent Prasidh and his two elder sisters to study Western notation with Phra Chen Duriyanga, an authority on Thai and Western music at the time.

The turning point came when Prasidh accompanied a troupe of Thai musicians and dancers from the Fine Arts Department to a cultural show in Japan. What was planned as a short trip became the artist's life-long commitment to Western music after he met Klaus Pringsheim, a student of Gustav Mahler, the composer who was then teaching at the Imperial Academy of Music, Geidai University.

Prof Pringsheim had no hesitation in accepting the young Thai as his student.

Prasidh studied for four years in Japan and returned in 1938 with a BA.

He worked as conductor for the Fine Arts Department's symphony orchestra and as composer, and he had a big hand in the formation of the department's Western music division, with his former teacher Phra Chen Duriyanga at the helm, said Kulthorn.

Prasidh's symphonic masterpieces include Siang Tian, Damnoen Sigh, Siamese Suite, and Cherd Nai, all adaptations of Luang Pradit Phairoh's original works...

...it was Siamese Suite that put Prasidh at the forefront of composers of his time.

Prasidh's Siamese Suite comprises four movements - Moon Over The Temple, In The Grand Palace, Siamese Lament, and In Bangkok's Chinatown.

...The song made its debut in 1954 - and what is more remarkable, it was in a foreign land. It was played for the first time not by a Thai band but by the National Symphony Orchestra of the Philippines and recorded for Thai audiences back home.

"The song made its debut at the same time my father was invited to a Unesco music conference in Manila," Kulthorn said, adding that Prasidh received a standing ovation for the song. 

Kulthorn recalled how he listened to the song with his grandparents on a radio at home in Bangkok... 

Prasidh played an instrumental role in transforming a series of Thai classical songs into modern versions... 

...Prasidh's decision to work on Siang Tian - enlarging the piece he previously wrote for a string quartet to a grand symphonic poem with female chorus - came almost by chance. The artist was 77 when he started working the masterpiece, recalled Kulthorn. 

"My father suffered from depression so we took him to see a doctor at Siriraj Hospital," he said. 

Instead of providing treatment, Dr Sunthorn Attanan, the head of Siriraj Alumni Association and a family friend, encouraged the maestro to produce a new symphony in honour of His Majesty becoming the kingdom's longest reigning monarch.

According to Kulthorn, the idea simply breathed a new lease of life into his ailing father. Back home from hospital, he worked tirelessly on the piece and for a while the depression seemed to have disappeared...

In recognition of his musical genius, Prasidh was declared a national artist in 1998.

A year later he began working on a new composition, Cherd Nai, which was renamed The Prelude Of Siam, a gift for His Majesty the King's 72nd birthday anniversary in 1999.

By then 86, the artist was laid low by bouts of illness. He realised it was beyond his physical condition to do the orchestration. All he managed to complete was the piano-conductor's score.

He instructed Kulthorn to ask the noted conductor/musician John Geogiadis, then living in the UK, to carry on the work and complete the unfinished symphony.

His wish was fulfilled a month after his passing on Sept 4, 1999.

Geogiadis returned with a finished orchestration piece but the great artist had left without the chance to listen to his final masterpiece.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Music, Hailing the Hero, Concert celebrates the centennial of Prasidh Silapabanleng who crucially forged the link between Thai and Western music, 14/08/2012, Ploenpote Atthakor, link


Thai and Western Classical Music Vocabulary

classical - of recognized authority or excellence because it came from the most highly developed stage of an earlier civilisation and its culture, examples: classical literature, classical architecture, in the West refers to the Greek and Roman eras (See Wikipedia)

Thai classical music - music played by traditional Thai instruments such as the ranad and saw duang (See Wikipedia)

ranad - the Thai xylophone (See Wikipedia)

Prasidh Silapabanleng (1912-1999) - (the subject of this article) the son of the Luang Pradit Phairoh, introduced Western classical musical forms to Thai music (See YouTube #1 and #2)

Luang Pradit Phairoh (Sorn Silapabanleng, 1881-1954) - considered the greatest composer of Thai classical music

The Overture
- "a 2004 Thai musical-drama film. A fictionalised account based on the life story of Thai palace musician Luang Pradit Phairoh (Sorn Silapabanleng), it follows the life of a Thai classical musician from the late 19th century to the 1940s" โหมโรง (See Wikipedia)

Western
classical music - art music that started in Europe performed by piano, violin and orchestra; the most famous composers being Betthoven and Mozart (See Wikipedia)

Gustav Mahler - a famous German composer (See Wikipedia and YouTube)

composer - a person who creates new music to be performed on instruments or to sing (See Wikipedia and list)
musical composition - a piece of music written by a composer and played by instruments or sung by a singer

orchestra -
a large group of instruments playig music together including violins, cellos and basses (string), trumpet, trombone, tuba (brass), clarinet, oboe, flute (woodwind), drums, xylophone (percussion) (See Wikipedia)

symphony - a long piece of music (musical composition) played by an orchestra (See Wikipedia)
movement of a symphony - one part of a symphony (that lasts for several minutes)

symphonic poem -
"a piece of orchestral music ... in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another (non-musical) source is illustrated or evoked" (See Wikipedia)

chorus
- a large group of people who sing together  คณะขับร้องหมู่ (See Wikipedia)

notation - a set of written signs and letters with meaning in music or mathematics  เครื่องหมายที่ใช้แทนระบบตัวเลขหรือเสียง
Western musical notation - the way of writing music so people can play it on an instrument or sing it (See Wikipedia)
study Western notation

hail - to say publicly how good or important someone is (example: the court's ruling was hailed as a victory for human rights)
hailing the Hero

centennial - the 100 year anniverary of something or someone (100 years since birth or creation)
celebrate the centennial

mark - to show respect for or commemorate; celebrate something ฉลอง
mark the centenary - to celebrate or show respect for an important event that happened 100 years ago

crucial - very important and needed  สำคัญยิ่ง

celebrated -
many people like; very popular and respected
celebrated composer

Concert celebrates the centennial of Prasidh Silapabanleng who crucially forged the link between Thai and Western music

mark the centenary of the birth of its most celebrated composer

forge - 1. create; 2. heating metal until it is soft enough to be beaten into different shapes หลอมโลหะ
link - a connection or one piece of chain
forge a link between

forging the crucial link between Thai and Western classical music

Next month Thailand will mark the centenary of the birth of its most celebrated composer, Prasidh Silapabanleng (1912-1999), best remembered for forging the crucial link between Thai and Western classical music, with a concert at Chulalongkorn University.

maestro - a great musician or composer

initially - at the beginning ในเบื้องต้น at first ในระยะต้น

composition - the way the parts are put together and arranged
Western music composition

The son of Thai classical maestro Luang Pradit Phairoh (Sorn Silapabanleng, 1881-1954), Prasidh initially trained as a pianist before studying Western music composition at a university in Japan, the first Thai to do so.

peak - the time when something is at its highest or greatest level ช่วงเวลาที่พบมากที่สุด
Thai classical music at its peak

policy - a plan of action to guide decisions and achieve outcomes นโยบาย (See Wikipedia)

pro - helping, supporting or believing in something
pro-West - believing in or helping the West
pro-West policy

Prasidh grew up at a time when Thai classical music was at its peak, before hitting a low during the 1940s as a result of the Pibulsongkram government's pro-West policy.

character - an imaginary person in a book, film or play
the lead character - the most important character in a film, book or play

duel - a fight between two men with guns or swords, used in the past by men of high social status to defend their honour after being insulted (See Wikipedia)
locked in a duel

rendition -
one way of playing music or performing a piece
evergreen -
1. always popular, never grows old; 2. a tree that never loses its leaves (is "ever" green)
a rendition of the evergreen song Lao Duangduen

Fans of the film Homrong (The Overture) will still remember the scene in which Sorn, the lead character playing the ranad, is locked in a duel with his son who is on piano, during a rendition of the evergreen song Lao Duangduen.

impression
- an opinion or feeling that you have about someone or something ความรู้สึก,ความประทับใจ
get the impression that

audience - the people who watch an event happen; the group of people gathered in one place to watch or listen to a play, film, someone speaking, etc. ผู้ชม
the audience got the impression that

approve of - think that something is good (should be done)
don't approve of (present, negative) 
didn't approve of (past, negative)

interest - liking something (and wanting know more about it or do it)
interest in Western music

the father didn't approve of his son's interest in Western music

Even though the audience at the time got the impression that the father didn't approve of his son's interest in Western music, the opposite is true.

elder - older ที่แก่กว่า
elder sisters

an authority on - is an expert on (knows a lot about the subject)
an authority on Thai and Western music

According to Prasidh's son Kulthorn Silapabanleng, it was his grandfather Sorn who sent Prasidh and his two elder sisters to study Western notation with Phra Chen Duriyanga, an authority on Thai and Western music at the time.

turning point - an important point in time when the situation changes

accompanied - went together with ติดตาม, ร่วมทาง, เดินทางไปด้วย
troupe - a group of performers (actors, musiciansm, dancers)
accompanied a troupe of Thai musicians

commitment - willing to give your time and energy to something that you believe in; a promise or firm decision to do something การมอบความไว้วางใจ
life-long commitment

the artist's life-long commitment to Western music

The turning point came when Prasidh accompanied a troupe of Thai musicians and dancers from the Fine Arts Department to a cultural show in Japan. What was planned as a short trip became the artist's life-long commitment to Western music after he met Klaus Pringsheim, a student of Gustav Mahler, the composer who was then teaching at the Imperial Academy of Music, Geidai University.

hesitation - when you pause before doing something, especially because you are nervous or not certain ความลังเล
had no hesitation in accepting - accepted immediately

Prof Pringsheim had no hesitation in accepting the young Thai as his student. Prasidh studied for four years in Japan and returned in 1938 with a BA.

had a big hand in -
was an important in doing this (in achieving this goal)

division - one part of a large organisation ดิวิชั่น
Western music
division

formation - creation, making
formation
of the department's Western music division

at the helm
- to officially control an organisation or company มีตำแหน่งผู้ควบคุม

He worked as conductor for the Fine Arts Department's symphony orchestra and as composer, and he had a big hand in the formation of the department's Western music division, with his former teacher Phra Chen Duriyanga at the helm, said Kulthorn.

masterpiece - the best work of art (painting, book, music)
symphonic masterpieces

adaptation -
the changing of something into a new form

original -
the first form or version of something (that copies were made later)
original works


at the forefront of - the best or most advanced of a group (at a point in time)
put Prasidh at the forefront of composers of his time.

comprise -
made of parts ...
Siamese Suite comprises four movements

Prasidh's symphonic masterpieces include Siang Tian, Damnoen Sigh, Siamese Suite, and Cherd Nai, all adaptations of Luang Pradit Phairoh's original works... ...it was Siamese Suite that put Prasidh at the forefront of composers of his time. Prasidh's Siamese Suite comprises four movements - Moon Over The Temple, In The Grand Palace, Siamese Lament, and In Bangkok's Chinatown.

debut - first appearance or performance (when a piece of music is played before an audience for the first time)
made its debut

The song made its debut in 1954

remarkable - unusual or special and therefore surprising and worth mentioning ไม่ธรรมดา
what is more remarkable, it was in a foreign land

received a standing ovation - when the audience stands up and claps after a musical performance (because they liked it so much)
recalled - remembered นึกทบทวน จำได้

...The song made its debut in 1954 - and what is more remarkable, it was in a foreign land. It was played for the first time not by a Thai band but by the National Symphony Orchestra of the Philippines and recorded for Thai audiences back home. "The song made its debut at the same time my father was invited to a Unesco music conference in Manila," Kulthorn said, adding that Prasidh received a standing ovation for the song.  Kulthorn recalled how he listened to the song with his grandparents on a radio at home in Bangkok... 

role - the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship บทบาท
instrumental - involved in an important way in making something happen
an instrumental role - an important role

played an instrumental role in - was important in this activity

version -
one form of something (the first or "original version" or some later change) ฉบับ
modern versions

transforming
- changing; making someone or something completely different เปลี่ยนแปลง ปรับปรุงใหม่
transforming a series of Thai classical songs into modern versions...

enlarging -
making bigger

grand - very big ใหญ่โต
grand symphonic poem

female - of a woman สำหรับผู้หญิง
female chorus

chance - what happens when you don't control events (example: gambling = games of chance)
happen by chance - not planned, happened randomly, unplanned, by luck

came by chance
came almost by chance

Prasidh played an instrumental role in transforming a series of Thai classical songs into modern versions...  ...Prasidh's decision to work on Siang Tian - enlarging the piece he previously wrote for a string quartet to a grand symphonic poem with female chorus - came almost by chance. The artist was 77 when he started working the masterpiece, recalled Kulthorn. 

depression - the mental illness of feeling very sad (See Wikipedia)

treatment - the process of providing medical care การรักษา
encouraged - having more confidence or hope about something มีกำลังใจ

honour
- the respect that people have for someone who achieves something great
in honour of

monarch
- a king or queen กษัตริย์ หรือราชินี
reign - ruling as a king over a country
longest reigning monarch

in honour
of His Majesty becoming the kingdom's longest reigning monarch.

"My father suffered from depression so we took him to see a doctor at Siriraj Hospital," he said.  Instead of providing treatment, Dr Sunthorn Attanan, the head of Siriraj Alumni Association and a family friend, encouraged the maestro to produce a new symphony in honour of His Majesty becoming the kingdom's longest reigning monarch.

a new lease on life - to feel very good again, after feeling very bad
ailing - sick; ill and weak ป่วย ป่วยและอ่อนแรง

breathed a new lease of life into his ailing father

work tirelessly - work very hard
he worked tirelessly on the piece

According to Kulthorn, the idea simply breathed a new lease of life into his ailing father. Back home from hospital, he worked tirelessly on the piece and for a while the depression seemed to have disappeared...

genius - a person much smarter or skilful than others
musical genius

recognition - be known for something  (when people acknowledge and accept someone's value and skill)   
in recognition of his musical genius

national artist - a special title given to important artists in Thailand  (See Wikipedia and list)

declared - an announcement that something is officially happening (or coming into existence)
declared a national artist

anniversary - a date when you celebrate something that happened in a previous year that is important to you วันครบรอบ

In recognition of his musical genius, Prasidh was declared a national artist in 1998. A year later he began working on a new composition, Cherd Nai, which was renamed The Prelude Of Siam, a gift for His Majesty the King's 72nd birthday anniversary in 1999.

bout - 1. a period of time when you have to deal with something very difficult like a disease; 2. one of several time periods in a boxing match
bout of illness

laid low - made weak by, hurt by
laid low by bouts of illness

realised -
came to understand
physical condition -
how healthy and strong you are (and free of disease) 

orchestra - the large group of instruments that usually plays Western classical music (See Wikipedia)
orchestration - writing a piece of music that can be played by the many instruments in an orchestra

realised
it was beyond his physical condition to do the orchestration.

managed to do - do something that is difficult to do
all he managed to complete was - he completed only a small amount (because it was difficult)

score
- wrriten music, sheet music, a written piece of music for a group of instruments and/or voices (See Wikipedia)
conductor -
a person who leads an orchestra, band or other musical ensemble by making motions with their hands and body (gestures) (See Wikipedia)
piano-conductor's score
- the written music that the conductor uses (also can be played on the piano)

By then 86, the artist was laid low by bouts of illness. He realised it was beyond his physical condition to do the orchestration. All he managed to complete was the piano-conductor's score.

noted - famous; well-known
noted conductor

carry on -
continue doing
carry on the work

He instructed Kulthorn to ask the noted conductor/musician John Geogiadis, then living in the UK, to carry on the work and complete the unfinished symphony.

his passing - his dieing; his passing away
without the chance to - was not able to do (did not have the opportunity to do)

His wish was fulfilled a month after his passing on Sept 4, 1999. Geogiadis returned with a finished orchestration piece but the great artist had left without the chance to listen to his final masterpiece.

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