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A Maltese Serenade


Philip R Buttall

Year of composition



PRB Music


Difficult (Grades 7+)


6 minutes


Classical music


Large mixed ensemble

Instrumental parts

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In 2007, my father and I had a wonderful break on Malta! We had never been there before, but really loved the friendliness of the people and enjoyed the warm climate and historical sites - you can see us in the picture above, on a day trip to Gozo.
We stayed at the Hilton which is a lovely hotel in St Julian’s Bay, and very much enjoyed driving around the small island in our little hired Hyundai! I think they say that the British drive on the left, the Europeans on the right, and the Maltese somewhere in between, but it was great fun, and so easy to get about.
A Maltese Serenade was written really as a celebration of the time we spent there! Malta, over the centuries, has had so many different countries and people there, and even its language is very much an Arabic mix, but with lots of Italian and some English words! I have tried to capture this mix in this piece, as well as reflect the beautiful sunny islands of Malta and Gozo, where we spent such a memorable holiday.
The instrumentation, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano, came about as I realised that I would like to include this piece in the Composers’ Concert held in Plymouth on April 11 2008, to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the International Concert Series, which will feature new works composed and performed by the artists.
These three instruments will be available, and I will be on the piano. My fellow performers on the day will be Dougie Clarkson (clarinet), Jake Loewendahl (violin) and Olivia Loewendahl (cello). I have here also included a working of the clarinet part for viola, as there is not enough material for this instrument, and it might then suit a piano quartet, giving the viola an opportunity to shine for once! (there’s also a part for Clarinet in A, if preferred.)
The dedication is to Sharon Gauci, who first got in touch with me a few years ago about my Maltese Islands Suite for piano. Communications between us drifted apart, as is often the case, and after dad and I had spent our holiday on the Malta, I felt really bad that I had not even told Sharon we were coming, and possibly could then have arranged a brief get-together. So, I decided to send an email to Sharon, really to see if she was still on the island, or had moved on, and I was delighted to hear back from her again, almost by return! Determined not to make the same mistake once more, we have kept in touch ever since, despite Sharon’s work-load as she finishes off her thesis at Malta University, whilst trying to fit this around a busy teaching schedule!
You can read more about Sharon on my Blog, where there’s a nice picture, too! I hope we meet sometime!

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