Datuk Peter Pragas: Composer, Pianist (1926-2014)

I wrote this on the SabahSongs blog, rather than this one, since it really belongs there.


When bass player Moses de Silva tagged me in his Facebook status update, I learned that Sabahan music legend Datuk Peter Pragas died on June 30, 2014, aged 87.

From my laptop in Brisbane, Australia, I saw the continuous stream of condolences to the Pragas family on my Facebook newsfeed, which is my window to the musicians’ world in Sabah, Malaysia.

The personal tributes to the first Musical Director of Radio Sabah were notably similar: gentle, kind, humble, understanding, a wonderful band leader. They referred to him as Sabah’s musical legend, and all believe that his legacy will live on. I have no doubt that it will, since Sabah’s musicians are especially respectful of their elders and acknowledge the good contributions of members of their community.

Talking with me in 2009, he described listening to the grass cutters singing outside his sister’s house in Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu), while on…

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