The late Revd. Father Theodrore Mathieson
InspirationIn December 1946, at a very sensitive time in Indian history - just before Independence - Theodore Mathieson, as a young priest, came to Calcutta to join a celebate Anglican Brotherhood at the Oxford Mission, founded in 1880.
He ran the Hindu Students Hostel, and worked among the lepers of the city. In 1955 he was transferred to the Mission’s centre at Behala, south of Calcutta, where he ran the Compound and looked after the health, education and welfare of the 100 orphan or part-orphan boys. He started the Industrial School to train boys for industry, and pioneered non-formal education for less academic boys. He was brilliant at finding jobs for them: and when jobs in industry became difficult or impossible to find, he helped start the Calcutta Youth Self-Employment Centre (CYSEC) to train young unemployed men to start their own small businesses. He was continually applied to for money by people in need, and thanks to his family backing was able to respond generously.
Above all, as a talented musician himself, Father Mathieson took on the music in the Compound. He saw to it that every boy had the opportunity to learn an instrument. Bengali boys, he found, had a natural aptitude: many went on to a career in music, both Western and Indian - in orchestras, teaching, the Navy Band or the film industry - and all had their cultural horizons widened. It was Father Mathieson who spotted the exceptional talent of his prize pupil Anup Kumar Biswas, when he was a young pupil at the Mission school, and he provided the inspiration and instigation for Biswas to go to England in 1974 and study at the Royal Academy of Music in London, which resulted in his becoming a cellist and composer of international stature.
On his deathbed, in 1994, Father Mathieson expressed his concern to Biswas about the future of a Western musical tradition in Calcutta and Biswas promised him that it would be continued. This brought about the founding of the Mathieson Music School, and The Mathieson Trust, the charitable organisation formed to provide the funding for the school. In this way, his name lives on and his good works are perpetuated.