top of page


Joseph Vella


JOSEPH VELLA (1942-2018) –  composer, conductor, musicologist and University Professor Born in Gozo (Malta), and a graduate of the University of Durham and the London College of Music, Professor Joseph Vella is considered to be the leading and internationally most widely played Maltese contemporary composer.

His music touches on a considerable diversity of styles, all ingrained in a personal idiom stemming mainly from the 20th Century neoclassical movement. Internationally acclaimed tenor Joseph Calleja, who made his operatic debut with Maestro Vella at the Astra Theatre, described him as one of Malta’s most beloved sons, with a musical talent at par with the world's best composers.

Professor Vella’s official catalogue of works reaches 155 opuses alongside an additional 150 minor works, ranging from opera, chamber, choral and sacred works to major symphonic works, concertos, hymns and band marches. His music has been regularly performed in prestigious venues across the world (New York, Japan, St. Petersburg, Dubai, etc), besides featuring on popular TV channels like ARTE. In June 2023, for instance, his ‘Hyland Mass – A Prayer for Unity in Diversity  was performed within the magnificent setting of the historical Pantheon, in Rome.

As a conductor, Vella has a wide repertoire and was invited to collaborate with many orchestras (Sofia, New York, Porto etc.). His sensitivity and instinctive insights as a conductor have been acknowledged by various artists: world famous soprano Cecilia Gasdia remarked that “Joseph Vella is one of the few conductors I know with whom I would be quite willing to sing a whole opera without even one rehearsal !”.

During his long and fruitful association with the Malta Choral Society, he also introduced to Malta some outstanding choral works like Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Britten’s Ballad of Heros, Bruckner’s Te Deum, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.

Thanks to his pioneering work and interest in early Maltese music, which he edited, performed and promoted both locally and abroad, Vella has rightly been accredited as the father of the Maltese revival movement. Joseph Vella was also Professor of Music at the University of Malta, the first resident conductor of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and was instrumental in setting up Malta’s School of Music.

Professor Vella was the Musical Director of the La Stella Philharmonic Society and the Astra Theatre for nearly fifty years, where he conducted a considerable number of operas, whilst also serving as maestro di cappella of the St. George’s Basilica. From its inception, he was the Artistic Director of the Victoria International Arts Festival and for forty years, he was also Musical Director of the Count Roger Band Club.

Maestro Vella also acted as Chairman or member on various jury panels for international music competitions.

Joseph Vella
bottom of page