Founded in 1836, the Royal Hawaiian Band received a young Prussian Kapellmeister in 1872 at the request of King Kamehameha V., Henry Berger (1844–1929). He stayed in Hawaii until his death. Under his direction, the band became an internationally recognized orchestra. Berger also composed a number of well-known pieces for the chapel (including the Hawaiian national anthem). The band still exists today.

For the first time, Berger gave the ukulele full place in an orchestra. A report by the San Francisco Call dated 23.5.1896 says:

Captain Berger has transformed the Royal Hawaiian Band into a great glee club of forty-five members. He has for years been able to transform it into an orchestra at will and every member of the orchestra had to be able to „double in brass“. But now, he has also to be able to treble in guitar or ukulele and come in lustily on the chorus of a whole repertoire of native songs.
Captain Berger has probably tho largest glee club in the world, and its first concerts will be given In San Francisco for the relief of earthquake sufferers.1)
There were forty-five members of the band. Ten of them played violins, three played cellos, two played bass viols and the rest were evenly divided between guitars and ukuleles. Nobody ever saw so many ukuleles being played at one time before and It was a surprising novelty even in Hawaii.

On April 18, 1906, a severe earthquake struck San Francisco, killing around 3,000 people.