King's Own Band

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The King's Own Band, founded in 1874 as La Stella, was a Maltese philharmonic band based in the country's capital, Valletta.[1] The Band was renamed to La Nazionale, La Nazionale Vincitrice [2] and later to The Prince of Wales Band in 1885.[2]

The King's Own Band is the current name of the Band given its name by King Edward VII in 1901 upon advancing to the throne of the United Kingdom.[3][4]

Early history[edit]

The first Band Club, or philharmonic society as they were known, to be set up in Valletta, was known as La Nazionale due to their location in the capital city of Malta. Colloquially this band was and still is referred to as Ta' l-Istilla.[5] The reason is that the promoters of this society had in mind their participation during the feast day of Saint Dominic in 1874, one of the patron saints who has his feast celebrated in Valletta, and the symbol of the saint is a star, Stilla in Maltese.[5]

The band's name has changed multiple times due to the historical circumstances. The first name that was given to the band club was that of La Nazionale. This name immediately reflects the aim of the founders, that it would not only be the band club for the feast of St. Dominic, but also a national one as it was born in the capital city of Malta, Valletta to foster more appreciation for this type of music around the island. Its participation in the various localities of Malta was to confirm this commitment. The second name was that of La Nazionale Vincitrice, adding the appellation that it was victorious. This was given to the band club by its own admirers in order to recognise the achievements and successes that had been registered.

Another change in name occurred in 1885. The Prince of Wales, who had visited Malta three times during the 1860s, was asked to grant a new name to the band club, namely The Prince of Wales Band. This was to be retained till 1901 when the Prince was crowned the King of the British Empire. The Committee made a formal request to have their name changed once more. From a letter dated 4 March 1901 the British Prime Minister communicated the decision to the Governor of Malta, Sir F. Grenfell. The band was to be officially known as King’s Own Bandpa.

This Royal connection of the band with the British monarchy was continued throughout the years. In 1903 the king paid an official visit to the islands, arriving in Malta on 16 April. The King’s Own Band was invited to play in the Palace Square during that evening when a dinner was held in the Palace on the occasion of the Royal visitor. Later during the same visit, the King presented a banner to the Band Club inside the Palace. Unfortunately that same banner was destroyed during the Second World War when the club premises were hit during one of the aerial attacks. In 1954 the Governor of Malta presented another Royal standard in lieu of the lost one. While in 1967, during her visit to Malta, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II presented another Royal Banner to the King's Own Band.[2]

In 1936, The King's Own Band was the first local band club to play the National Anthem of Malta in public to commemorate the National Day, 8 September.[6]

The King’s Own Band Club served as an important social, political and musical club for many people. Being also situated in Valletta, it has always attracted particular attention from foreign visitors to the islands. Thus, when His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited the club’s premises on 28 November 1952, he stated :"I hope that this my visit to the King’s Own Band Club will be interpreted as if I had been to all the band clubs of Malta."

The King's Own Band still bears the title of Eccellenza (Excellence), a tribute to the high level that the band had achieved in Algiers (1912) while participating in the Grand Concours International de Musique.

Later history[edit]

The band is composed of about 95 musicians.[7] The band performs throughout the year, starting in March in preparation for the feast of St. Joseph in Rabat – Malta, through October/November in a grand finale in the form of the Annual Concert.

The master directors[edit]

01 Giuseppi Borg 1874-1880

02 Filippo Galea 1880-1886

03 Ġiovanni Malfiggiani 1886-1888

04 Corrado Ronzani 1888-1890

05 Gaetano Grech 1890-1892

06 Alfred Porkiman Hare 1892-1908

07 Aurelio Doncich 1908-1914

08 Giuseppe Monterosso 1914-1919 [8]

09 Aurelio Doncich 1920-1930

10 Francesco Gobet 1932-1937

11 Giuseppe Casapinta 1938-1956

12 Anthony Aquilina 1956-1973

13 Carmelo Caruana 1973-2002

14 John Galea 2003-


  1. ^ "King's Own Band's 140th anniversary concert". Times of Malta. 15 November 2014. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Ellul, Michael (1998). History on Marble: A Corpus of Inscriptions in the Presidential Palaces in Valletta, San Anton and Verdala, Malta. Malta: Publishers Enterprises Group. p. 144. ISBN 9990901031. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  3. ^ "King's Own Band Club Earns HSBC's support". The Malta Independent. 31 July 2008. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  4. ^ "HSBC Assists King's Own Band Club". The Malta Independent. 13 November 2010. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b Cassar-Pullicino, Joseph (1992). Studies in Maltese Folklore. Msida: Malta University Press (University of Malta). p. 137. ASIN B0006F50OA. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  6. ^ "The Maltese National Anthem" (PDF). Pajjizna. Department of Information (Malta). January 2009.
  7. ^ Nikita (17 November 2014). "King's Own Band celebrates 140 years of making music". Royal Central. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  8. ^ Canicattì (AG) 1866 - Aci Catena (CT) 1947, Italy. At the same time, between 1914 and 1919, maestro Giuseppe Monterosso conducted also the Prince of Wales Band of Birgu (Vittoriosa). Ethnohistorical testimony of Maestro Giuseppe Monterosso’s direct granddaughter Rossana Monterosso’s family members (1924-2009), and Giuseppe Monterosso’s direct niece Giuseppa Monterosso (1929-2016). Other references: Pulvirenti-Mallia / Monterosso Enrollment Agreement (18-9-1916), the only document found in the "Archive of the King's Own Band Philharmonic Society", since its headquarters were bombed in 1941. Giuseppe Monterosso performed as Maestro from 1914 to 1919, as Maestro Aurelio Doncich was interdicted from Public Offices, since he was an internee (prisoner of war) in the Cottonera Concentration Camp. In 1911 Giuseppe Monterosso was also substitute Maestro and in 1912 vice-maestro (For the years of imprisonment and their end 1914-1920 see Albert Ganado, The Camp Nachrichten published by the Prisoners of War in Malta in 1914-1916, in “Journal of the Malta Philatelic Society”, 2017, 46 (1), p. 5 (5-12 pp.), and Il Fondo Archivistico «Serie Z – Contenzioso», edited by Laura Pilotti, Rome, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rome, Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 1987, v. VI, p. 145; for Giuseppe Monterosso's activity with the King's Own Banda and his directing years in 1911-1912 and 1914-1919 see Borg Grech, Ir-Re George V - 105 snin mill-Inkurunazzjoni, in “Festa titulari ta' Santa Maria L–Imqabba”, Mqabba, Soċjetà Santa Marija Banda Re Ġorġ V, 2016, pp. 184-185, and see Il Concerto King’s Own in Piazza, in “Il Malta” (31-7-1916), at the “Archivio King's Own Band”; see also Lapis ipse loquax. Giuseppe Monterosso e Aci Catena protesi nella Musica. Atti del Convegno tenutosi allo Svelamento della Targa Marmorea del 6.1.2023, edited by Fabrizio Càssaro, Supino (FR), Pagine lepine, 2023, p. 4, 31 and passim; Dante Cerilli, Sinopie Consonanze. Giuseppe Monterosso e il Filarmonico Concerto Municipale di Aci Catena.1908-1912 ¤ 1922-1945. Dal Meriggio al Tramonto (1948-1978). I maestri Fontana, Minissale e Ausino (Supino, Pagine lepine, 2022, pp. 25-30 and passim).

External links[edit]