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Title: Origins and development of a contemporary Maltese orchestra : the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
Authors: Buttigieg, Lydia
Keywords: Music -- Malta -- History and criticism
Music -- Malta -- 19th century
Music -- Malta -- 20th century
Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
Musicians -- Malta
Conductors (Music) -- Malta
Orchestra -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
Orchestra -- Malta -- History -- 19th century
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: University of Malta. Department of History
Citation: Buttigieg, L. (2015). Origins and development of a contemporary Maltese orchestra : the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. Journal of Maltese History, 4(2), 37-48
Abstract: Although there has been a long tradition of western art music in Malta since the Middle Ages, it has always been rather restricted in nature. First of all, the population of the island was relatively small and it was geographically isolated on the periphery of Europe. During previous centuries this meant that the kind of patronage that existed for classical music in other countries was much less widespread in Malta. Maltese musicians could only develop their musical tastes for a number of reasons: Firstly, the island was predominantly Catholic, and the church was the only significant patron of music, so the majority of the local composers wrote extensively for ecclesiastical or sacred purposes. Secondly, up to the Second World War the two main types of classical music performed in Malta were Italian opera (due to the strong Italian cultural influence on the island) which was performed either at the Royal Opera House or at the Manoel Theatre Valletta; and British ‘light music’. Maltese audiences displayed little interest in other kinds of classical music, such as orchestral and chamber music. Thirdly, there were very few performing groups (which were mainly small chamber ensembles) with whom Maltese composers could arrange to have their orchestral works performed. Consequently, very few Maltese composers wrote compositions specifically scored for large ensembles or orchestras. Given that the musical infrastructures in Malta were so underdeveloped in comparison to most other European countries, it was several decades into the twentieth century before a reasonably sized standard orchestra was established. The audience for any other form of classical music other than opera and church music remained stubbornly small, and the audience for new music was smaller still. To further a better understanding of the musical infrastructures developed throughout the centuries in Malta, the first half of this paper will present a brief historical background of the musical ensembles that performed sacred and secular music from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. In the second part, it focuses on the historical development of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, from the early twentieth century to the present day.
ISSN: 2077-4338
Appears in Collections:JMH, Volume 4, No. 2 (2015)
JMH, Volume 4, No. 2 (2015)

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