Reuben Pace

Blog 76 - The Maltese Composer Charles Camilleri: His Life and Musical Style – Part 4 by Dr. Philip Ciantar

In this fourth and final blog about the iconic Maltese Charles Camilleri, Dr. Philip Ciantar talks about how Prof. Camilleri managed to make Maltese music sound ‘global’.


Ciantar, Philip. 2014. 'Charles Camilleri: His Life and Musical Style', in Henry Frendo (ed.), Towards Independence and Beyond, The Central Bank of Malta Symposium 2014 (Malta: Gutenberg Press), pp. 57-63.


In Camilleri's works, the local (Malta), the regional (the Mediterranean) and the global (the world) become one single reality in which the local becomes global and, therefore, Malta becomes part of the region and,

further, part of the world rather than its centre. For Camilleri, the local can only attain its ultimate value when it becomes global and, eventually, universal; or, put differently, when it becomes valuable to all peoples, times and places. It was a philosophy that Camilleri expressed in his compositions with sounds that at one moment sound local but are then reshaped to sound "Mediterranean" and later, craftily matched against the sound of other world music traditions alien to us in an attempt to sound simultaneously local, regional and global. Scrutinizing the works of Camilleri not only presents a demanding task in terms of musical analysis; it invites us to explore his music within the processes through which he viewed himself as a citizen of a small nation in an increasingly globalized world. In his work one can sense his longing to connect Malta to the rest of the world, even if only conceptually and sonically. His music teases the "outsider" to have a taste of Malta and the nostalgic snippets that throughout the years forged the soul and character of its nation. This he achieves through a complex lifelong process in which he was actively involved, a process principally aimed at overcoming the constraints of insularity, as well as the social, cultural and geographical claustrophobia of his native country-the same country that he loved both from near and afar in a kind of a dialectic between the hero and anti-hero. Charles Camilleri proved that a composer brought up in a small nation can attain much even in a market as fiercely competitive as that of music. This he achieved through his habitual way of thinking outside the box and with a vision that reached far beyond the shores of his small island home.


This blog brings to an end the series of blogs about Prof. Charles Camilleri. The next few blogs will be from artists who took part in the premier of City of Humanity 1 – Behind the Fortifications. They will each talk about their individual experience in this production. Next week ‘s block is by Mark Bartolo, one of the basses in the City of Humanity vocal ensemble.