Irmgard Farden Aluli
Irmgard was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1998. Although the legacy of her compositions will live forever, Auntie Irmgard's special presence in our lives leaves an unfillable void. When you visited Auntie, you always left her home full of cookies or cake, with a gift, a warm feeling of being loved, and your heart and mind filled with delightful talk story. We will miss our cherished friend. Sing with the Angels, Irmgard. May your special aloha fill the heavens
The following is excerpted from the koa exhibit honoring her induction into the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame exhibits now stand in the sanctuary of Kawaiaha`o Church.
The most prolific female Hawaiian composer since Queen Lili`uokalani, Irmgard Aluli wrote over 200 songs. She never bothered to keep a record of her output. She composed her first song, "Down on Maunakea Street", in 1935.
Irmgard's first hit, "Puamana" was composed in 1937. Homesick for her Farden family home, Puamana, in Lahaina, Maui, she wrote her song while serving in Moloka`i as a field agent for the University of Hawai`i Agricultural Extension Service. In time, it became the name of her well-known family quartet, formed in the 1970s. Irmgard, her daughters Mihana and Aima and her niece Luana performed from California to New York.
One of ten children, Irmgard was raised in an environment of music. Her parents, sisters, brothers and numerous relatives were all gifted with musical talent. Long before she began composing tunes and writing lyrics, Irmgard was singing in family music sessions, at school, and in church choirs.
It was through these activities she developed her strong alto voice, and learned to play `ukulele, bass, guitar and piano. She credited her ability to "feel harmony" as a result of many hours improvising harmonies with her brothers and sisters to sheet music brought home from school.
Many have ranked Irmgard's "E maliu Mai" as her best song. Other memorable standards are "Lapahoehoe Hula" (Boy from Lapahoehoe), for which Irmgard composed the music, and Kawena Pukui wrote the lyrics. "Baby Kalai" was written in 1943 for the Baby Lu`au of the first Aluli grandchild born into her husband's family. Both songs are still being performed and recorded.
"Auntie Irmgard" also composed many songs touching on a spiritual theme. Her children's songs distinguished her in the small group of Island composers, mostly women, who have written Hawaiian songs for children. During her life, Irmgard was a recipient of many honors and awards for her "simple, distinctively Hawaiian" compositions, and her contributions to the music education of Hawai`i's children.