H. Berger

Henry or Henri Berger (August 4, 1844 – October 14, 1929) was a Prussian Kapellmeister composer and royal bandmaster of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi from 1872 to 1915.

Berger was born Heinrich August Wilhelm Berger in Berlin, and became a member of Germany's imperial army band. He worked under the composer and royal bandmaster of Germany, Johann Strauss, Jr. Originally, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany loaned Berger from his Potsdam station to King Kamehameha V to conduct the king's band. He arrived in Honolulu in June 1872, fresh from service in the Franco-Prussian War. In 1877, King Kalākaua appointed Berger to full leadership of the Royal Hawaiian Band. In 1879, he became a naturalized citizen of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Berger befriended the future Queen Liliʻuokalani, a composer in her own right. Berger arranged the songs she wrote, performed by the brass band. The queen named Berger the "Father of Hawaiian Music". From 1893 to 1903, the bandmaster worked with the Kamehameha Schools to develop its music program. He also built what is today the Honolulu Symphony.

He led the government band at thousands of public events. Among these were "steamer day," when a ship left the Honolulu docks. The band serenaded the departees with "Auld Lang Syne," or "The Girl I Left Behind Me."

Later in his tenure as royal bandmaster, Berger took it upon himself to record traditional Hawaiian hymns, chants and other Hawaiian music in print to ensure their survival, a task never done before. Berger at the same time composed the classics: "The Hula March", "Hilo March", "Kohala March" and "Sweet Lei Lehua." His arrangement of "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī", with text by Kalākaua in honor of Kamehameha became the national anthem. Today, the song serves as the state anthem.

Berger combined German, Austrian and Hawaiian traditions in his unique compositions and performed with the Royal Hawaiian Band thousands of times, making Hawaiian music known and popular in many countries. Berger started the RHB 'Aloha" welcome and farewell greetings at the harbors.

He died in Honolulu. His resting-place is the Kawaiahaʻo Church Cemetery.

Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned Berger in his novel The Bottle Imp.

Berger's legacy continues today, celebrated worldwide especially in Hawaii and Germany, as the father of the Royal Hawaiian Band, the oldest municipal band in the United States.

Birth and Death Data: Born August 4th, 1844 (Berlin), Died October 14th, 1929 (Honolulu)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1904 - 1938

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, arranger, trumpet


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-2392 10-in. 3/22/1905 Hawai ponoi Arthur Pryor's Band Band composer  
Victor B-15493 10-in. 12/12/1914 Kohala march David K. Kaili ; Pale K. Lua Guitar duet (Hawaiian), unaccompanied composer  
Victor B-19193 10-in. 2/19/1917 Hawaiian medley no. 2 E. K. Rose Guitar solo (Hawaiian) composer  
Victor B-20849 10-in. 10/11/1917 Ua like no a like Tandy MacKenzie Male vocal solo, with orchestra (Hawaiian) arranger  
Victor BVE-89130 10-in. 4/10/1935 Hilo march Royal Hawaiian Band Band (Hawaiian) arranger  
Victor BVE-89133 10-in. 4/10/1935 Hawaii ponoi Royal Hawaiian Band Band (Hawaiian) composer  
Victor BS-019697 10-in. 2/21/1938 Hilo march Honoluans ; Daivd Kaonohi Instrumental ensemble (Hawaiian) arranger  
Victor BS-022645 10-in. before 4/27/1938 Hawaii ponoi Royal Hawaiian Band Re-recording : Band (Hawaiian) composer  
Columbia 39804 10-in. 2/2/1915 Ua like no a like Toots Paka Hawaiian Company Male vocal and instrumental ensemble, with guitar and/or ukulele (Hawaiian) arranger  
Columbia 45862 10-in. 7/16/1915 Ua like no a like Pale K. Lua Steel guitar solo (Hawaiian) arranger  
Columbia 46877 10-in. 6/22/1916 Kaui kahio medley Biltmore Kalaluhi Hawaiian Orchestra Instrumental ensemble (Hawaiian) arranger  
Columbia 77301 10-in. 8/29/1917 Hawaiian echoes Frank Ferera ; Irene Greenus ; Helen Louise Instrumental trio (Hawaiian) arranger  
Columbia 80394 10-in. 6/10/1922 Ua like—noa like Ferera's Hawaiian Instrumental Quartet Instrumental quartet (Hawaiian) arranger  
Columbia W146652 10-in. 5/18/1928 Hilo march Charlie Wilson Trio Instrumental trio (Hawaiian) composer  
Columbia W147814 10-in. 1/18/1929 Hilo Andrew Aiona's Saxophone Trio ; Sol Hoopii's Novelty Trio Instrumental trio and saxophone trio (Hawaiian), with vocal solo composer  
OKeh 431 10-in. ca. Oct. 1918 Kohala march Hawaiian Troupe Instrumental ensemble (Hawaiian) composer  
OKeh S-71001 10-in. Nov. 1922 Hawaii ponoi Prince Lei Lani Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio composer  
OKeh S-71573 10-in. May 1923 Kohala march Ferera and Franchini Guitar duet (Hawaiian) composer  
OKeh W402315 10-in. 3/14/1929 Kohala march Scottdale String Band String band composer  
Brunswick LAE163-LAE164 10-in. Mar. 1928 Hilo march Johnny Noble's Hawaiians ; Moke Trio ; M. K. Moke Instrumental ensemble, with steel guitar solo and guitar trio (Hawaiian) composer  
Edison 5090 10-in. 10/24/1916 Kaala Ford Hawaiians Male vocal solo and male vocal ensemble, with instrumental ensemble composer  
Edison 5097 10-in. 10/26/1916 Kohala march Ford Hawaiians Instrumental trio (Hawaiian) composer  
Edison 5107 10-in. 10/27/1916 Ellis march Ford Hawaiians Instrumental duet (Hawaiian) composer  
Gramophone 123h 10-in. ca. 1904 Aufziehen der Schlosswache Seidler's Orchester Orchestra, with trumpet solo instrumentalist, trumpet  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Berger, H.," accessed November 26, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111709.

Berger, H.. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved November 26, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111709.

"Berger, H.." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 26 November 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111709


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