The Great Maltese Composers: historical context, lives, and works is the first comprehensive study of Maltese music to be written in the English language.
The book has been written for a general readership, and the author’s aim has been to organise the material in a way that makes clear the way in which Maltese music has developed from its earliest manifestation as plainchant in its medieval cathedral in the old capital of Mdina to its post-Independence manifestations in the second half of the twentieth century; throughout, particular attention has been paid to the development of church music and opera. The accent is, of course, on those composers who have contributed most significantly to this progress, for it is the composers themselves who are the fulcrum of any historical development in music. Throughout, an attempt has been made to humanize the composers as much as possible by giving an awareness of what they felt and experienced, for surely any man’s music is a reflection of himself, as conditioned by the era and events in which he was living.
As is the normal consuetude for books on similar themes, every attempt has been made to render each chapter as self-contained as possible so that it can be read and understood without undue reliance on other chapters. The author has included many appendices that are intended to amplify the text on matters whose more detailed consideration within the pertinent chapter would have been to the detriment of the free-flow and continuity of the main exposition. They also deal with certain topics on ancillary and more peripheral aspects of Maltese music – such as the rite of Tenebrae; the mechanics of a benefit concert; the use of the piano in the Holy Week liturgy; the Camera degli Autori e Compositori di Musica Maltesi – on which little information has so far been available.
Based on the author’s extensive and continuing research, the book provides important new material and perspectives on the achievements of Maltese composers and their contribution to the development of music in Europe particularly over the last four centuries.
The book has been published by APS Bank Ltd with the collaboration of Midsea Books Ltd.
About the author: Born in Malta, Joseph Vella Bondin is a retired teacher by profession and lectured in macro-economics and financial management in the University of Malta. His interest in music started in childhood as a flute-player. Later, he trained as a bass singer, and sang in leading roles in operas, concerts and oratorios, besides extensive involvement in liturgical singing. His musicological interests were furthered by advanced theoretical studies with composer Carmelo Pace and concentrate mainly on the history of Maltese music on which he has written widely.
He is a contributor to the Second Edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. His history of Maltese music in two volumes, Il-Mużika ta’ Malta sa l-Aħħar tas-Seklu Tmintax and Il-Mużika ta’ Malta fis-Sekli Dsatax u Għoxrin, was the first such study to be written. His modern edition of Stabat Mater (1750) by the Maltese composer Girolamo Abos was published in the USA by A-R Editions of Middleton, Wisconsin in 2003.
Since 2001, he has been music consultant to the APS Bank, helping it to produce its lauded annual flagship concerts and its series of CDs featuring works by Maltese composers for which he has written both the programme brochure and the CD booklets.
Mr Vella Bondin is also a multi prize-winning dramatist, with works performed on stage, radio and television and published in four collections.