Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica : Journal of the Malta Historical Society. 2(1956)1(58)

Mifsud Bonnici, Robert, Mużiċisti Kompożituri Maltin u Għawdxin tal-Bieraħ u tal-Lum. Giov. Muscat, 1951, 155 p.

This work by a writer who is already well-known for his various contributions in Maltese is likely to arouse interest in our past achievement in the Arts. A Dictionary of National Biography for the Maltese Islands has long been a desideratum and Mr. Mifsud Bonnici’s work very opportunely fills in the blank in so far as Maltese musical achievement is concerned.

This collection of biographical essays on Maltese lay musical composers supplements that published by the same author dealing exclusively with sacred music and with “Maestri di Capella.” It covers the period from the beginning of the 18th century to the present day; the essays follow a more or less uniform plan and for each composer mentioned the information given may be grouped roughly under the three headings: life, education and a list of works with date of composition. No indication, however, is given as to whether such compositions are still extant, and if so, where they can he seen.

A tremendous amount of work has gone into the compilation of this book, and it is a pity that information could not be supplied to the compiler which would have enabled him to include those other contemporary composers whose names do not figure in this book. Our INNU MALTI deserved more than a mere mention in the final paragraph of the essay on Jos. Mallia Pulvirenti. Dun Karm’s article “Kif sar l-Innu Malti,” telling how the Maltese National Hymn originated, may be read in LEĦEN IL-MALTI (September-December 1947).

The word “Maltese,” has been extended to include all Maltese born composers who achieved prominence abroad as well as foreigners whose compositions were inspired by or written in Malta. As regards the criterion adopted for inclusion, output rather than quality seems to have been the guiding factor — but of course the writer’s intention was to present as complete a list as possible.

The illustrations showing Maltese composers form a pleasant feature of the book while the one-page bibliography and the list of operas by Maltese composers put on in local theatres since 1796 add to the practical reference value of the work.

J.[oseph] C.[assar] P.[ullicino]