“ALOHA OE” Croatian Folk Tune


Mr. Adam Eterovich 2527 San Carlos San Carlos, CA June 11, 1999


Dear Adam,


I have compared the melodies of "LIJEPA MARA NA KAMEN STUDENCU" and "ALOHA OE". My observation is that it is very likely that Hawaiian lyrics were written to the fairly well remembered Croatian folk tune and then the now very familiar chorus was added. There are a few melodic and harmonic differences, but such lapses are not uncommon in repeated versions of the same folk melody.


Rachel Cytanovic, Ph.D. (Music History and Theory, Louisiana State University)




Aloha 'Oe (Farewell to Thee)

Words by Her Majesty Queen Liliuokalani

By John Berger

Berger, John. “Aloha 'Oe.” Hawaii Magazine, August 1996.

          Mentions possible source of song as Croatia.


Most Hawaiian music fans know "Aloha 'Oe" was written by Queen Liliuokalani, and it's often sung as a goodbye tune. However, the song actually has nothing to do with leaving, and although Liliuokalani wrote the well known lyrics more than a century ago, the melody is far older.


"She wrote it to a tune called 'Rock By The Sea,"' says Keith Haugen, kamaaina composer/performer. "In those days it was a common thing for Hawaiians to use other melodies, write new lyrics and come out with a new song. It. was a popular thing to do, (but) the big difference from today was that they acknowledged where it came from."


Haugen says the song ranks about equal with "Ke Kali Nei Au/The Hawaiian Wedding Song" as the most frequently requested by visitors at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel's Mai Tai Bar. Haugen and his wife, Carmen, have performed there for the past 10 years. It was at the Royal that they learned the melody to "Aloha 'Oe" was borrowed at least once even before it reached Hawaii.


"A woman wanted to hear a song, and she hummed the melody and it was "Aloha 'Oe.'When she asked us if we knew where it came from, we thought she was going to say 'Rock By The Sea,' but she told us it was from Croatia."


Another visitor later told the Haugens the original Utle was "Ljepa Nasa Domovina" and it was the Croatian national anthem. Haugen, a long-time student of the Hawaiian language, has asked a Croatian friend to find the Croat lyrics and coach him on pronunciation for the next time a Croat visits the Royal.


"A lot of English hymns were written to melodies from Europe, so 'Aloha 'Oe' could be a third use of it, but it was the Hawaiian version that became popular worldwide. It is still probably the most popular Hawaiian song ever. It reaches people even if they don't understand it.


Although "Aloha 'Oe" has became known as a leaving song, "It’s a love song that will live forever as a song of farewell," Haugen says.


Local sources agree that Liliuokalani wrote the lyrics around 1877. The inspiration came while she was travelling over the Pali, returning from a horseback party in Maunawili and observed the fond parting embrace of two lovers-neither one of which was leaving Hawaii.


Beyond that, the story has several versions. Some say that the lovers were members of the court. Others say that only one was. Some identify the woman as Liliuokalani's sister, Princess Miriam Likelike. In 1877 Likelike was the wife of Alexander Cleghorn and the mother of two-year-old Princess Kaiulani; if the woman was Likelike, the man was apparently not her husband. One account says that the unnamed woman's paramour was Colonel James Boyd, an officer in the palace guard.




Believe It or Not

Radio Program-June 28, 1938


In 1887 Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee, and from every corner of the Empire loyal subjects flocked to pay homage to England's greatest queen. It is to the gay London of fifty one years ago to the day that I take you for the scene of my first Believe It Or Not sketch. The place; the gardens of Buckingham Palace. A gay party is in progress. While listening to the music of an Austrian band all eyes are centered upon a dusky exotic visitor who is seated beside Queen Victoria. She is Queen Liliuokalani Regent of the Hawaiian Islands,



QUEEN LILIUOKALANI: Your Majesty, I have had a lovely time at your party, but I must go.


QUEEN VICTORIA: Oh, so soon, Princess Liliuokalani?


QUEEN LILIUOKALANI: Yes, your Majesty, you see I have received word that my sister died. I am very sad and I want to get back to Hawaii as soon as possible. I am leaving tonight.


QUEEN VICTORIA: I am inexpressibly sorry - and it is indeed unfortunate that you have to go so soon because the conductor of the orchestra was going to play  this next number for you.


QUEEN LILIUOKALAN1: That is very kind.


QUEEN VICTORIA: 0h - they are starting now. We thought it might be particularly appealing to you, It is an old Austrian folk song - "Die Traene"


QUEEN LILIUOKALANI: I am deeply honored Your Majesty, and of course I'll stay. Oh, Your Majesty,



My dear Princess - you’re crying!


QUEEN LILIUOKALANI: Oh, Your Majesty, I am so deeply grateful to you.


QUEEN VICTORIA: For what, my dear?


QUEEN LILIUOKALANI: For this song, It was so beautiful. In this moment of my great sorrow it has helped me so. It sounded like a 'farewell" to my dead sister. I shall never forget it as long as I live!


RIPLEY: And Princess Liliuokalani did not forget that old Austrian folk song. When she returned to Hawaii she wrote a poem of farewell to her sister who had died.

"Farewell to thee, thou charming one who dwells among the flowers.“

And to this poem she added the music -of the old Austrian folk song. Yes, that beautiful Austrian folk song is now known throughout the world today -- the most famous song of the Hawaiian Islands -- "Aloha 0e". Believe It or Not.