Tune of the Day: Funiculì, Funiculà
This famous song, with lyrics by Italian journalist Peppino Turco, was set to music by Italian composer Luigi Denza in 1880. It was composed to commemorate the opening of the first funicular on Mount Vesuvius, which was later destroyed by the eruption of 1944. It was sung for the first time in Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples, and immediately met with huge success.
Six years after the song was composed, German composer Richard Strauss heard the song while on a tour of Italy. Thinking that it was a traditional Italian folk song, he incorporated it into his Aus Italien symphony. Denza promptly filed a lawsuit against Strauss, and eventually won: Strauss was then forced to pay him a royalty fee every time the symphony was performed in public.
In the 1950s “Funiculì, Funiculà” became a worldwide hit as performed by American tenor Mario Lanza. Today, the song is still the best known street song of Italy; among the most notable recent performances we remember those by the late Luciano Pavarotti.