MRO Joseph Darmanin, A. Mus. L.C.M., was born on 29 April 1918. From a young age, he took a great interest in music. At the age of thirteen, he began playing the clarinet with the Stella Maris Band in Sliema which, at the time, was under the direction of his father, Mro Anthony (Antonio) Darmanin.
Not only was he eager to follow in his father’s footsteps into music, Joseph also joined the British Army as his father had done in 1905. Not even eighteen years of age, Darmanin joined the Royal Engineers in 1935, however, he continued studying music theory and found success in exams at the Royal Music School of London.
In 1937, at the age of 19, Darmanin married Phylis (née Sammut) and when Italy entered World War II in 1940, he transferred to the Royal Malta Artillery and was promoted to Sergeant in 1941.
After the war, Darmanin furthered his music studies and received a diploma of Associate in Music from the London College of Music in 1947. During these studies, Darmanin received two of his greatest honours within a period of only a few months. In 1945 he was approached to take charge of the Stella Maris Band for whom he had been playing since his youth. Shortly after, he was invited to be the founding Bandmaster of the Lily Band Club of Mqabba.
In all, Mro Darmanin spent 19 years directing both bands, only resigning from his positions in 1964 when he emigrated with his family to Australia. Between 1952 and 1955, he was also the Bandmaster for the San Nikkola Band of Siġġiewi. Continuing his military service, Mro Darmanin was also promoted to Warrant Officer, 2nd Class in 1960.
In Australia, Darmanin joined the Royal NSW Regiment, a reserve infantry regiment and became its Bandmaster. The Reverend Father Ronald Darmenia, Parish Priest of the Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish Church of Greystanes, approached Mro Darmanin and expressed his wish to form a Band in the Maltese tradition. Mro Darmanin called together musicians of Maltese descent from the area and the group held the first practice night in February 1976.
The respect and renown for Mro Darmanin in Malta did not end when he came to Australia. Whenever he returned to Malta, he was treated as a dignitary by the bands he directed and was given the opportunity to direct these bands during their feasts.
Mro Darmanin’s most popular march is Tal-Kbar and is still hugely popular around all of Malta. He continued in his position as Bandmaster of our Band until 2002, when he retired after 26 years. In February 2006, celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Band played a special concert at the nursing home in which Mro Darmanin was residing and presented with a special plaque in recognition of service and dedication to the Band.
Mro Joseph Darmanin passed away at the age of 88 in September 2006. One year after his passing, the Band held a concert at La Valette Social Centre, Blacktown as a tribute to Mro Darmanin and his great work both in Australia and Malta.