Karl Partridge

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Karl Partridge

Professor Frank Jeal and Dr. Karl Partridge attending a folk music event in Għaxaq, May 2013.

is a consultant ecologist and ornithologist based in Northern Ireland. In 1958 he went to live in Hong Kong when his father Gordon took up a post in a British Services primary school and he subsequently spent many school holidays in the Far East. By the time he was at University his parents had moved to Malta. Gordon was appointed Headmaster of Luqa primary school and he lived in Malta from 1971 to 1974 – first in Mosta and later in Balzan.

When Karl visited Malta in December 1971 he had already decided that he would try to track down the Maltese bagpipes, since he had an interest in bagpipes and played both the Scots pipes and the Irish Uilleann pipes, which is played in Ireland. His interest developed into an obsession and over the next three years he sought out, interviewed and recorded all the remaining żaqq players he could find in Malta.

In 1977 he and his colleague Frank Jeal published a seminal paper on the żaqq in the Galpin Society Journal, documenting all their findings. Forty years later he returned, to tell the story of his ‘quest for the żaqq’ and to summarise the results of his research.

In 2010 he was contacted by researcher Steve Borg, through his colleague Frank Jeal, regarding research material on the żaqq and other Maltese folk instruments. This amicable exchange led to a suggestion by Borg to Partridge and Jeal to bequeath their field documents to the National Archives of Malta, as part of the nation’s collective memory. The bequest was made on the 16th May 2013.