Adele may have swept the 59th Grammy Awards
held in Los Angeles on 12 Feb, 2017 but an unlikely figure from India also made an appearance. That man is India’s first prime minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru.
American jazz saxophonist and composer, Ted Nash, won the Grammy 'Best Instrumental Composition' for his composition ‘Spoken At Midnight’ inspired by the ‘Tryst with destiny’ speech delivered by India’s first prime minister.
On the night between 14 and 15 August, 1947, at midnight, PM Jawahar Lal Nehru
got up in the constituent assembly
in the Indian parliament to announce India’s freedom to the rest of the world.
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now that time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.
Nehru’s speech has since then come to be known as ‘Tryst With Destiny
’. Often referred to as one of the greatest speeches of all times
, it talked about India’s journey over centuries, the upheavals it went through. It also spoke about the struggle Indians had to go through to free themselves of British rule. 15 August 1947, represented the first step in the Indian experiment and Nehru
was careful to not wallow in emotion but focus on the job at hand. He spoke to fellow Indians about the kind of nation that India was going to be.
The speech has inspired many in the last nearly 70 years and Nash decided to include it in his album, Ted Nash Big Band: Presidential Suite (Eight Variations On Freedom). The album features great speeches in the last century from the likes of John F Kennedy (Ask not what your country can do for you), Franklin D Roosevelt (Four freedoms), Winston Churchill (This deliverance) and Nelson Mandela (The time for the healing of wounds) among others.
By the time the album closes, the listener has not only been moved by the thought-provoking ideas behind these speeches but by Nash's stunning inventiveness in translation.
You can listen to Nash’s composition inspired by Nehru's speech, ‘Spoken at midnight’ here
You can also listen to Nehru's Tryst with destiny
speech in English here
There is a Hindi version of this speech by Nehru
as well. You can listen to it here