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Lili‘uokalani, Queen of Hawaii [Kamaka‘eha, Lydia Lili‘u Loloku Walania; Kamaka‘eha Pākī, Lydia; Dominis, Mrs John O.; Dominis, Lydia K.; Dominis, Lili‘u K.]free

(b Honolulu, Sept 2, 1838; d Honolulu, Nov 11, 1917). Hawaiian composer. She sang, played the piano, organ and various plucked string instruments, and was a choir director at Kawaiaha‘o Church. Lili‘uokalani reigned from 1891 to 1893, but was deposed by a group of Hawaiian residents with American ties during an economic depression.

She began her musical training at the Chiefs’ Children’s School (1842–8), becoming a skilled sight-reader. In her autobiography she commented that she was the first Hawaiian to become proficient in writing with Western musical notation. Her first published work, in 1867, was the hymnlike He mele lāhui Hawai‘i, used until 1876 as the Hawaiian national anthem. Her Nani nā pua Ko‘olau (‘The Flower of Ko‘olau’) was one of the first Hawaiian songs to have been published on the American mainland (1869). She continued publishing in the USA, where her songs became popular (in 1898 she claimed to have written hundreds of songs, about a quarter of them printed). She was familiar with both Hawaiian and western European music and made an effort to synthesize the two. A number of her songs are of the hīmeni type (secular texts with both melodic style and verse-chorus form indebted to Anglo-American hymnody), and are sophisticated in harmony and appealing in melody. Her poignant love song Aloha ‘oe (‘Farewell to thee’, 1877/8) exemplifies these characteristics. She also wrote down and may have composed Hawaiian solo and dance chants.


  • GroveW (L.A. Wright) [incl. selective work-list with D. Gillett and further bibliography]
  • Lili‘uokalani: Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen (Boston, 1898)
  • Obituary. New York Times (12 Nov 1917)
  • Obituary. Pacific Commercial Advertiser [Honolulu] (11–19 Nov 1917)
  • Obituary. Star-Bulletin [Honolulu] (12–17, 19 Nov 1917)
  • G.S. Kanahele, ed.: ‘Aloha‘oe’, ‘Lili‘uokalani’, Hawaiian Music and Musicians: an Illustrated History (Honolulu, 1979), 11–13, 227–32
  • A.L. Korn and B.B. Paterson: ‘Liliuokalani’, Notable Women of Hawaii, ed. B.B. Peterson (Honolulu, 1984)
  • A.K. Stillman: ‘Published Hawaiian Songbooks’, Notes, 15 (1987–8), 221–39
  • B. Smith and D. Gillett: , eds.The Queen’s Songbook, Her Majesty Queen Lili‘uokalani (Honolulu, 1999)
The New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers