1931. The year when the major record companies decided it was in their interest merge and come together under one name to form Electrical and Musical industries (EMI). Using the highest technology available, recording engineers would capture the music and artistry of musicians worldwide, including Malta. The playback machines or gramophones had already been made accessible to the local population that was consuming shellac 78rpm records of foreign music including Italian opera. Musicians and composers were alive and well in a healthy and thriving musical scene that fed its Valletta audiences through the Royal Opera House, the Manoel Theatre and the regular dance-orchestras at Café Premier and elsewhere. Recorded music was becoming a new and fashionable good which was now accessible in retail outlets, and which encouraged local entrepreneurs to record Maltese music.

The earliest recordings of Maltese music were made in the early years of the 1930s. Local artistes were contracted by the Valletta agents, P.Carabott Musical Emporium of Strada Mercanti and Anthony Damato of Strada San Giovanni. They were organized in groups, rehearsed and sent overseas to record. The wax masters were then sent to the mother companies for pressing and the records were shipped and sold locally under the major labels of the day; Pathe, Polyphon, Zonophone, HMV and Odeon. The recordings feature a variety of musical genre including folk chant (għana), instrumental music, lyrical and operatic songs, as well as some classical arias by local composers. Apparently, these recordings in the vernacular were hugely popular amongst the various strata of society.

The LOST VOICES PROJECT was initiated by Andrew Alamango, and supported by the National Archives and the Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family, as part of the National Memory Project. It aims to gather and catalogue these early records, documenting and preserving them for research and posterity. For further info visit http://www.filflarecords.com



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