The eldest of the four, David Kalakaua, elected King in 1873, is generally regarded as the catalyst for Hawai`i's cultural resurgence in the last half of the 19th century. Considered a "cultured intellectual of unusual mental powers" by his friend, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kalakaua was gifted in many fields from politics and sports to literature and music. King Kalakaua gave his chief patronage to music, from ancient chant to the waltz, and was actively involved in restoring public performance of the hula. The Merry Monarch Hula Festival, presented annually in Hilo, Hawai`i was named in his honor.
Like his sisters and brother, David Kalakaua received much of his early musical training as a student at the Royal School. Primarily a poet and lyricist, his foremost musical legacy was his Hymn to Kamehameha I, set to music by Henry Berger and known today as "Hawai`i Pono`i". It was the national anthem of the Hawaiian Monarchy and is today our State Song.