Rużar Briffa’s heart of the heartpoetry set to music

Ruzar Briffa - album cover- KarbaAfter setting to music poems by Malta’s national poet Dun Karm Psaila and by Karmenu Vassallo, composer Dominic Galea will be releasing his third album in this series at the end of this month (May). Called ‘Karba’, the CD contains 12 poems by dermatologist and poet Rużar Briffa (1906-1963).

Known as the poet ‘of smallness and simplicity’, Briffa once said that “poetry should only aim to reach the heart of the heart of a human being, and even if it arrives at it just once, then poetry would have reached its climax”.

Dr Briffa completed his studies in venereology and dermatology in London. In 1932, he became a specialist in skin diseases. He was known for his humility and his great hearted approach in dealing with patients, especially those suffering from leprosy. According to his wife Louisette, he dreamt of beautifying disfigured and suffering patients through his medical work.

In May 1998, Mrs Briffa generously donated the original manuscripts of most of his verse compositions to the University of Malta. The Rużar Briffa poetry collection now forms part of the library’s legacy collections. In 2009, the University launched a CD-Rom featuring a digitised version of Rużar Briffa’s poetic writings, consisting of over 240 of the poet’s original inspirations and subsequent refinements, jotted down on whatever paper he had at hand.

The launch of “Karba’ coincides with Briffa’s 50th anniversary of his death on 22 February 1963 and with the 10th anniversary of Heritage Records label. The album includes a 16-page booklet with an introduction by Professor Oliver Friggieri, who in 1984 released Rużar Briffa’s biography.

‘Karba’ was recorded ‘live’ at Manolito Galea’s Lito’s Place in Floriana by various musicians including a string quartet led by Tatjana Chircop. The album was produced by Dominic and Manolito Galea together with researcher Steve Borg.

Supported by the Malta Arts Fund, “Il-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ilsien Malti” and “L-Akkademja tal-Malti”, the album includes 12 songs performed by Paul Giordimaina, Dorothy Bezzina, Ludwig Galea, Doreen Galea and tenor Joseph Aquilina.

While Dun Karm’s ‘Għanja’ and Karmenu Vassallo’s ‘Nirien’ albums are available from leading record shops, ‘Karba’ will hit the record shops during the last week of this month. An earlier album called “Ommi”, including lyrics by various poets performed by singer Doreen Galea, was launched in 2009.

Monique Chambers

Monique started indulge in 2011 and has since created Indulge Me GIFT and Indulge Me FOOD and volume 1 of The Artists Directory - Malta. A marketing professional by trade, Monique's passion is to promote local talent and Malta in general. Free time is her biggest indulgence, when she can tinker in her craft room or the kitchen, or be selfish with a book, the sofa and good glass of wine (of course, wearing something beautiful and with freshly coiffed hair!)

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