This is the second article in a two-part series. Read part one.
In 1754, William Shipley, an unknown drawing master in England, had founded the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce: “to embolden enterprise, to enlarge science, to refine art, to improve our manufactures and to extend our commerce”.
A society similar to the one founded in London was established in 1852 in Malta – the Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Its first president was Baron C. Azzopardi and a long list of illustrious personalities followed. This included Baron Maximilian von Tucher, who was president of the society for the year 1899.
On the occasion of the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria, in June 1897, the committee members of the society unanimously voted to send congratulations to the queen. Baron von Tucher was among the signatories. His name also appears on the list of contributions to fundraising for the jubilee festivities.
Von Tucher’s interest in the activities of this society may be traced back to his native town of Leitheim, Germany, which excelled in the manufacture of musical instruments.
On March 25, 1902, Rabat was elevated to the status of a parish and, as a result, it was separated from the parish of Mdina. On September 28 of that year, Fr Salvatore Chircop was solemnly installed as the first parish priest. The music during the church service was by Mro Antonio Nani, a well-known composer of sacred music.
The event was held in a festive mood: there was music in the air with the participation of the philharmonic society La Vallette of Valletta and of Conte Ruggiero/Casino San Paolo of Rabat, which continued to enhance the enthusiasm and popular manifestation of the proceedings.
At a reception held for the occasion, Baron von Tucher was among those who personally conveyed his good wishes to Fr Chircop.
In the afternoon of April 9, 1904, Emperor Wilhelm II – “a striking personality in Europe” – arrived for his second visit to the island. The itinerary included visits to Mdina and Verdala Palace.
On Sunday, April 10, the emperor, after a divine service on board the royal yacht Hohenzollern, lunched at the Palace with the Admiral Sir Compton Domvile, Naval C-in-C. This was followed by visits to St John’s Co-Cathedral, the national library and afterwards San Anton Palace, where, in commemoration of his visit, the emperor planted “with his own imperial hands” a Dodonaea evergreen tree. Admission to the gardens during the time of the emperor’s visit was by invitation only. Those who were honoured with invitations included Baron and Baroness von Tucher.
There existed a close acquaintance between the emperor and the noble baron
In the evening, during a state dinner, Baron von Tucher personally met Wilhelm II. There existed a close acquaintance between the emperor and the noble baron. During that short stay, the emperor visited the Drydocks and the breakwater and witnessed “with keen interest” general exercises and drill by the fleet. The Kaiser left Malta on April 12.
On the morning of May 10, 1909, their imperial majesties Emperor Wilhelm and Empress Augusta Victoria arrived in Malta from Corfu. It was the third visit to Malta by the emperor and the second by the empress.
On entering harbour, they were saluted by the Royal Navy and the Saluting Battery with 21 guns. Baron Von Tucker visited their majesties on board and presented to the German empress a bouquet of fresh flowers on behalf of the baroness.
At the luncheon held at the Palace, their majesties twice made an appearance on the Palace balcony and “the waiting crowds applauded them heartily”. They visited St John’s Co-Cathedral, which was adorned with the priceless Flemish tapestries. In the afternoon, the imperial visitors “motored over a good portion of the country”.
Baron and Baroness von Tucher sat at dinner, when the German emperor proposed the toast to his majesty King Edward VII.
“The day of the imperial visit has passed rapidly, like all glad days. But it has been a notable day.”
The next morning, the Hohenzollern proceeded on its voyage.
In January 1914, on the occasion of Emperor Wilhelm II’s birthday − he was born on January 2, 1859, and acceded to the throne on June 18, 1888 – Baron Von Tucher hosted an ‘at home’ reception for the German community in Malta. It was very well attended by the Germans on the island.
This was practically the last official function of the German Consul General in Malta as the political situation in Europe rapidly continued to escalate. World War I was approaching, culminating in the declaration of hostilities between Great Britain and Germany on August 4, 1914.
At the request of Governor Sir Leslie Rundle, the German Consulate in Valletta was closed. Baron Maximilian and Baroness Victoria von Tucher left Malta on July 3, 1914, on board the Austrian-Hungarian SS F. Jos. Kiraly en route for Catania and thence to Trieste. They were accompanied by Hermann Maempel, brother of the baroness.
Baron von Tucher predeceased his consort in Germany, after which the baroness subsequently returned to Malta where she died aged 76 at her villa in Rabat on February 22, 1931. She was buried at Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery. In the same family tomb were also buried Hermann Maempel – “questa tomba elessero a aspettando la risurrezione giacciono qui” – and their beloved parents Karl and Giovanna Maempel. The Von Tucher family died without children.
By : Michael Galea – TIMES of MALTA