The Maltese Wind Band

A Musical Tradition and Its Practice Today


In stock

About the Book

Wind bands are common around the world, and the small Mediterranean island of Malta is no exception. Their abundance in Malta testifies to the popularity of the wind band tradition among the locals. It is central to everyday life, particularly during the village feast, which is synonymous with Maltese bands. These ensembles are not made up merely of performers and musical instruments but encapsulate a rich and intricate tradition embedded in the local community.
This book describes the history and development of Maltese wind bands, social and political values, the Maltese march, entertainment, and the recording industry. Chapters demonstrate how local communality, partisan political division and rivalry, foreign influences, continuation of past practices as well as the introduction of new ones, and other interests have coalesced to shape the contemporary Maltese wind band tradition.

About the Author(s)

Simon Farrugia is a music educator at Malta’s Ministry of Education and a lecturer within the School for Educational Studies at the Malta Leadership Institute, where he teaches courses revolving the topic of education. Some of his notable projects include a TV documentary series on world music and a coauthored book related to Maltese historical anthropology, among several other publications in music education and ethnomusicology. He also forms part of the RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) Malta National Committee.

Bibliographic Details

Simon Farrugia
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: 119 photos, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8975-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4875-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Abbreviations xii
Glossary xiii
Foreword by Jonathan P.J. Stock 1
Introduction: Malta—History, Tradition and Music 5
1. The Maltese Wind Band Tradition: An Historical Survey 29
2. The Past in the Present: Spaces, People and Music 53
3. The Maltese Feast Band March: Innovation and Conventionality 78
4. Wind Band Music as a Political Expression in Malta 117
5. The Wind Band and the Maltese Recording Industry 135
6. The Wind Band as a Medium of Entertainment 153
Conclusion: What Does the Future Hold for the Maltese Wind Band Tradition? 169
Afterword by Stephen L. Rhodes 173
List of Band Clubs in Malta 175
Chapter Notes 181
Bibliography 189
Index 199

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Here is a subject about which the musical world knows next to nothing. Therefore, this quite comprehensive book describing the history, development, and future of the Maltese Wind Band is such a welcome addition to the growing interest in musical circles about the wind band movement in every country and culture. We are introduced not only to the lengthy history of the wind band and its role and importance in the music of Malta, but also to the music this organization has played and is performing in our day. This book should certainly be of great importance world-wide.”—Samuel Adler, professor emeritus, Eastman School of Music, The Julliard School

• “Writing as a historian, an ethnographer, and a musician, Simon Farrugia dives deeply into one Europe’s most ubiquitous forms of community music-making, the municipal band. In Malta these bands operate at the physical center of village life, and Farrugia writes engagingly about their aesthetic, political, social, and entertainment value in the past and in the present.”—Timothy Rice, UCLA distinguished professor emeritus of ethnomusicology

• “Simon Farrugia’s brilliant book defines, describes, and ruminates upon a long-standing musical practice and its reflection of the cultural milieu of Maltese society. He aptly describes Maltese banda sonically and socioculturally, and by way of the complexities of its multinational history of British colonial imports and regional migrations from Italy to this crossroads island-nation in the Mediterranean Sea. Farrugia has pieced together a meticulously researched exploration of historical resources and ethnographic accounts that take us to an insider’s understanding of community bands in Malta while also giving rise to the complex realities of band culture at large. He expresses the social conditions that shaped and sustained banda, and underscores how banda’s Maltese identity has been actively preserved through festive street marches and other publicly oriented performances. The work is masterful, and meaningful to scholars in study of local musical communities, to instrumental music educators who serve both schools and communities, and to just about anyone who has ever doubted the pivotal role musicians play in the dynamic life of their local society and culture.”—Patricia Shehan Campbell, Donald E. Peterson professor of music, University of Washington

• “The Maltese Wind Band Tradition offers a comprehensive view of wind orchestras, illustrating the strong embeddedness of musical forms in local history, social structures, and relations. This contribution to ethnomusicology is therefore also of great interest for sociologists, including on the political aspects of musical life, beautifully enlightened in this book.”—Vincent Dubois, professor of sociology and political science, University of Strasbourg, France, coauthor, The Sociology of Wind Bands

• “Simon Farrugia’s book on the Maltese Wind Band Tradition is extremely well documented. His detailed studies give us a complete insight in a beautiful Maltese tradition that very few people know about. My compliments!”—Johan de Meij, composer/conductor, New York

• “Situated at an historical crossroads, Malta’s rich traditions are considered in Farrugia’s work -vividly bringing to light a body of music that has not been explored by the global community of wind band conductors. A compendium of regional style, this historical overview offers everything a conductor needs to present Maltese marches as they were intended to be performed. This proves an invaluable resource for professionals, amateurs, and enthusiasts.”—Ken Thompson, College of Musical Arts, Bowling Green State University

• “Is it possible in Mediterranean countries to have a celebration, religious or not, without a wind band of some sort? Probably not. Surely not in Malta. In a fluent language, Simon Farrugia accompanies us in the world of the wind bands of his country describing every aspect involved in them, from its origins to more recent trends. The experience of Maltese wind bands is analyzed not only diachronically but also synchronically. A wind band is not only made by players and instruments; It is made by places, symbols, celebrations. ‘Music is always more than music’ is one of the fundamental assumptions of Anthropology of music, and Farrugia’s book is a superb demonstration of this assumption. Continuities and changes identified and described by Farrugia talk about a vivid tradition he describes efficaciously. “The Maltese band club is a representation of the Maltese society but in a much smaller space” writes the author. In other words, to grasp the reality of Malta, one effective possibility is to read this book.”—Fulvia Caruso, associate professor in ethnomusicology, Università Di Pavia

• “Simon Farrugia’s work is a welcome contribution to the developing literature on different wind band traditions. Wind bands are often an essential part of local and regional culture and meaningful to the people involved, whether performers or listeners. Farrugia keeps this meaning central to his investigation by placing the understanding of people involved with these bands at the forefront of his discussion. His discussion of Maltese wind bands in their socio-cultural context – within a political context or the recording industry—illustrates their importance in Maltese culture. Even the chapters more ostensibly devoted to a musical discussion understand the musical experience through people’s experience, whether that is composers discussing the proper way to structure a Maltese festive band march or how listeners and musicians understand the sound of the Maltese wind band. As a cultural insider, Farrugia relates this meaning effectively and clearly and shares this fascinating tradition with an international audience.”—Denise Odello, associate professor of music, University of Minnesota Morris

• “The civilization of the Island of Malta is very ancient and in more modern times has been involved with a number of other nations. We are indebted to Simon Farrugia for a most extraordinary account of the wind bands and folk music of Malta. I hope someday we will have such comprehensive accounts of wind music for all countries.”—Dr. David Whitwell, American conductor and author of 60 books on music history

• “An in-depth look at the musical life of Malta…recommended.”—IBEW