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Essay On Queen Liliuokalani

Sep 29, 2014

The Queen's Songbook

Queen Liliʻuokalani was considered an extraordinary musician.  In addition to composing a remarkable 150 songs, she played the piano, organ, ukulele, guitar and zither, and was an expert in sight-reading music.

The Queen’s Songbook is a collection of 55 of Liliʻuokalani’s compositions, and includes an essay on Liliʻuokalani and her music, historical commentary, translations, chronologies and photographs.  The book is a project of Hui Hānai, an auxiliary organization to the Children’s Center, which wanted to collect and publish the queen’s works to perpetuate her memory.

“The queen herself intended to do this, so we are carrying out her expressed desire and vision to make available her songs to every Hawaiian family,” said Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, who together with Agnes Conrad and Barbara Smith, researched, edited and arranged music for the book that celebrates the creativity of Queen Liliʻuokalani.

The project involved hundreds of hours of work by volunteers who "painstakingly picked at each note, each work, each translation" to produce what Hui Hānai describes as “an authoritative source of her music.”

Available at University of Hawaiʻi Press and other bookstores throughout Hawaiʻi.

Cleveland offered Liliuokalani reinstatement in return for her granting amnesty to all those who had been involved in the coup. She initially refused, but then acquiesced; in vain, however, as the provisional government formed after the coup (led by Sanford Dole) denied her reinstatement. In July 1894, the government proclaimed the Republic of Hawaii, with Dole as its first president. Early in 1895, after loyalist Robert Wilcox led a failed insurrection aimed at restoring Liliuokalani to the throne, the queen was placed under house arrest and charged with treason. She agreed to sign a formal abdication in late January in exchange for the pardon of the supporters who had led the revolt. (Later, she tried to claim that the abdication was invalid as she had signed her married name, rather than her royal one.)

With no children of her own, Liliuokalani had designated her niece Kaiulani as heir, and in 1896 the two women traveled to Washington together to try and convince Cleveland to restore the Hawaiian monarchy, without success. As leader of the “Stand Firm” (Oni pa’a) movement, Liliuokalani fought steadfastly against U.S. annexation of Hawaii. Though Cleveland was sympathetic, his successor William McKinley was not, and his government annexed Hawaii in July 1898. Kaiulani, in poor health, died in 1899 at the age of 24. Liliuokalani withdrew from public life and lived until 1917, when she suffered a stroke and died at the age of 79.

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