Camilleri was born in Ħamrun and, as a teenager, had already composed a number of works based on folk music and legends of his native Malta. He moved from his early influences by Maltese folk music to a musical form "in which nothing is fixed and his compositions evolve from themselves with a sense of fluency and inevitability". He composed over 100 works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, voice and solo instruments. Camilleri's work has been performed throughout the world and his research of folk music and improvisation, the influences of the sounds of Africa and Asia, together with the academic study of European music, helped him create a "universal" style.
Camilleri is recognized as one of the major composers of his generation. His works include the now famous Malta Suite, Maltese Dances, A Maltese Overture - Din l-Art Helwa, operas in Maltese, a ballet based on the Knights of Malta and the oratorio Pawlu ta' Malta. His piano piece Cantilena, is currently part of the Grade 5 Trinity Guildhall piano syllabus. The Missa Mundi for solo organ was described by its first publisher as "the organ's Rite of Spring".
He died on 3 January 2009 at the age of 77. His funeral took place two days later at Naxxar, his long-time town of residence. Flags across Malta were flown at half-mast in a national tribute to him.
In 2014, the Central Bank of Malta issued a silver €10 and gold €50 coin in Camilleri's honour - and as part of the EUROPA star collector coin series which highlights European culture and events on an annual basis.
- Piano Concerto No. 1 "Mediterranean" (1948, revised 1978)
- Piano Concerto No. 2 "Maqam" (1967/8)
- Piano Concerto No. 3 "Leningrad" (1986)
- Malta Suite (1946)
- Cello Concerto (1992)
- Flute Concerto (1993)
- Clarinet Concerto (1981)
- Organ Concerto (1983)
- Piano Trio (1972)
- Missa Mundi, for organ (in five movements: 1. The Offering; 2. Fire over the Earth; 3. Fire in the Earth; 4. Communion; 5. Prayer) (1972)
- Morphogenesis, for organ (in five movements: 1. Le Cœur de la Matière; 2. L'énergie humaine; 3. L'atomisme de l'esprit; 4. Activation de l'énergie humaine; 5. Le monde de la Matière) (1978)
- Wine of Peace, for organ (1976)
- Cosmic Visions, for strings (1976)
- Noospheres, for piano (1977)
- L'amour de Dieu, for organ (1978)
- Maltese Cross, opera (performed in Paris in 2003 conducted by Christophe Vella)
- Shomyo, for oboe (2001)
- Shomyo, for clarinet (2001)
- Shomyo, for flute (2001)
- Sonata Breve, for oboe and piano (2002)
- Paganiana, for piano 4-hands (Note: This is a set of variations on the 24th Caprice of Paganini, but its title is Paganiana rather than the expected Paganiniana)
- Charles Camilleri: Prolific Maltese composer with a worldwide reputation