Saturday, February 21, 2015

Royal Hawaiian Band

One of the interesting musical institutions in Hawai‘i is the Royal Hawaiian Band which is the “oldest and only full-time municipal band in the United States” [wikipedia]. You can get an overview of their published recordings via the merchandise web page of the Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band. Unfortunately, their music is not available via iTunes but you may be lucky to get some old-school CDs via Amazon. 

Photo © CC BY-SA Thomas Tunsch
And reading about the band's history is fascinating. The have a Schellenbaum (Turkish crescent) with the engraving “no ka hoomanao ana ia Berlin” (In memory of Berlin).

It was donated by the German emperor to King David Kalākaua while he was visiting Berlin in 1881. He was the first monarch in the world traveling around the globe.

It is funny enough there is a Hula group in Berlin with that same name:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hawai‘i and the World before 1893

Coming from Germany and having lived on the US mainland for the past 13 years, one might get the impression that the modern history and development of Hawai‘i starts with the United States. For a history geek like me, it has been extremely enlightening to realize that this is not the case. In fact, the accomplishments of Hawai‘i before the coup d'etat of 1893 by the US are impressive to say the least.

I just finished reading my latest Hawai‘i-related book Hawai‘i and the German Speaking Peoples by Niklaus R. Schweizer. This books provides excellent insights into the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom. With my background it was particularly fascinating to learn more about the connection between Hawai‘i and German-speaking countries. As a German interested in history, you may be aware of Germany's brief colonial history (Africa, Pacific, China), but Hawai'i is not a country that registers in that context readily.

Among its many accomplishments, the following set of statistics (page 146) caught my eye:

In 1892 The Hawaiian Kingdom maintained 93 diplomatic missions and consular posts around the globe. 5 consulates were located in Germany (Bremen, Hamburg, Frankfurt/Main, Dresden, Karlsruhe).

Consulates also existed in Austria (1), Sweden and Norway (4), Denmark (1). 13 Consulates + 1 legation existed in Great Britain.

Hawai‘i was one of only 46 sovereign countries at that time in the world. In a video series below, Niklaus Schweizer also states that Hawai‘i was not only the first fully sovereign country (recognized by the western world) in the Pacific region, but also within all of Asia.

This was certainly not some back-water place far away from civilization in the 19th century. In fact the country went from “we don't have a script” to basically 100% literacy rates in just 50 years, modernized the country, built up institutions, all while enduring very large population losses due to western introduced deceases. I find that truly mind-blowing.

Please see the videos for more in-depths information.

Part I

Part II

Part III