Funiculì, Funiculà

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"Funiculì, Funiculà"
Song
LanguageNeapolitan
Written1880
Published1880
GenreCanzone Napoletana
Composer(s)Luigi Denza
Lyricist(s)Peppino Turco
Audio sample
Funiculì Funiculà

"Funiculì, Funiculà" (IPA: [funikuˈli ffunikuˈla]) is a Neapolitan song composed in 1880 by Luigi Denza to lyrics by Peppino Turco. It was written to commemorate the opening of the first funicular cable car on Mount Vesuvius. It was presented by Turco and Denza at the Piedigrotta festival the same year. The sheet music was published by Ricordi and sold over a million copies within a year. Since its publication, it has been widely adapted and recorded.

History[edit]

The Mount Vesuvius funicular in the 19th century

"Funiculì, Funiculà" was composed in 1880 in Castellammare di Stabia, the home town of the song's composer, Luigi Denza; the lyrics were contributed by journalist Peppino Turco.[1] It was Turco who prompted Denza to compose it, perhaps as a joke,[1] to commemorate the opening of the first funicular on Mount Vesuvius in that year.[2][a] The song was sung for the first time in the Quisisana Hotel[b] in Castellammare di Stabia.[citation needed] It was presented by Turco and Denza at the Piedigrotta festival during the same year and became immensely popular in Italy and abroad.[5] Published by Casa Ricordi, the sheet music sold over a million copies in a year.[1]

Adaptations and unintentional plagiarism[edit]

German composer Richard Strauss heard the song while on a tour of Italy six years after it was written. He thought that it was a traditional Neapolitan folk song and incorporated it into his Aus Italien tone poem. Denza filed a lawsuit against him and won, and Strauss was forced to pay him a royalty fee.[6] Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov also mistook "Funiculì, Funiculà" for a traditional folk song and used it in his 1907 "Neapolitanskaya pesenka" (Neapolitan Song).[7] Cornettist Herman Bellstedt used it as the basis for a theme and variations titled Napoli; a transcription for euphonium is also popular among many performers. Modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg arranged a version for ensemble in 1921.[8]

Over the years the song has been performed by many artists including Erna Sack, Anna German, Mario Lanza, Beniamino Gigli, The Mills Brothers, Connie Francis, Haruomi Hosono (with lyrics translated into Japanese), Fischer-Chöre (with lyrics translated into German), The Grateful Dead,[9] Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Il Volo.


“Funiculì, Funiculà” is whistled by the Barbra Streisand character in the 1972 film What's Up, Doc? as she crosses the street following the pizza delivery guy into the Bristol Hotel before the first hotel-lobby scene.

During the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment of the Disney film Fun and Fancy Free, Donald Duck and Goofy sing "Eat Until I Die," a song expressing their longing for food, set to the melody of "Funiculì, Funiculà."

In 1960, Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman wrote a new set of English lyrics to the melody of "Funiculì, Funiculà" with the title "Dream Boy".[10][11][12] Annette Funicello included the song on her album of Italian songs titled Italiannette and also released it as a single, which became a minor hit.[13]

In an episode of the 1980-1988 show Hi-De-Hi, Su Pollard is singing "Funiculi, Funicula" with made-up lyrics for the chorus: "Macaroni, spaghetti Bolognese..."

Rodney Dangerfield sings the song in his 1983 hit comedy film Easy Money.

Composer Alan Silvestri used the melody in 1993 film Super Mario Bros. as the main theme for Italian-American protagonists Mario and Luigi.[14]

In 1933 Arthur Fields and Fred Hall published a parody of "Funiculì, Funiculà" titled "My High Silk Hat." [15] This parody has been republished several times, including in the 1957 Gilwell Camp Fire Book.[16]

In 2001 a video parody of the song was released by VeggieTales as "Larry's High Silk Hat".

The 2004 video game Spider-Man 2 features a humorous instrumental version that plays during pizza delivery missions; this has become an internet meme.[17] The 2018 video game Spider-Man has an orchestral rendition playing outside of a pizzeria as a reference to this.[18]

In the anime series Girls und Panzer, it is used as the main theme of the Italian-themed Anzio Girls' High School

In episode 2[19] of the first season of the Japanese anime Hozuki no Reitetsu, one of the young characters sings a version of the song with Japanese lyrics, believing it's "a sales jingle for demon underwear." The main character Hozuki gives a lecture on the song's actual origins, telling them: "…that song was originally a canzone from Southern Italy."; "The 'Funiculi Funicula' you speak of are rhythmic shouts."; "Apparently it was a promotional song for the Mountain Railway." A picture of a train on a mountain track is shown with Mario as the train conductor.

The melody was used for "The Grape Escape Board Game" commercials, which aired in the US in 1992.[20]

Lyrics[edit]

Original Neapolitan lyrics[edit]

In Turco's original lyrics, a young man compares his sweetheart to a volcano, and invites her to join him in a romantic trip to the summit.

Neapolitan lyrics[21]
Aissera, oje Nanniné, me ne sagliette,
tu saje addó, tu saje addó
Addó 'stu core 'ngrato cchiù dispietto
farme nun pò! Farme nun pò!
Addó lu fuoco coce, ma se fuje
te lassa sta! Te lassa sta!
E nun te corre appriesso, nun te struje
sulo a guardà, sulo a guardà.
(Coro)
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà,
'ncoppa, jamme jà, funiculì, funiculà!
Né, jamme da la terra a la montagna!
Nu passo nc'è! Nu passo nc'è!
Se vede Francia, Proceta e la Spagna...
Io veco a tte! Io veco a tte!
Tirato co la fune, ditto 'nfatto,
'ncielo se va, 'ncielo se va.
Se va comm' 'a lu viento a l'intrasatto,
guè, saglie, sà! Guè, saglie, sà!
(Coro)
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà,
'ncoppa, jamme jà, funiculì, funiculà!
Se n'è sagliuta, oje né, se n'è sagliuta,
la capa già! La capa già!
È gghiuta, po' è turnata, po' è venuta,
sta sempe ccà! Sta sempe ccà!
La capa vota, vota, attuorno, attuorno,
attuorno a tte! Attuorno a tte!
Stu core canta sempe nu taluorno:
Sposamme, oje né! Sposamme, oje né!
(Coro)
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà,
'ncoppa, jamme jà, funiculì, funiculà!
English translation[21]
I climbed up high this evening, oh, Nanetta,
Do you know where? Do you know where?
Where this ungrateful heart
No longer pains me! No longer pains me!
Where fire burns, but if you run away,
It lets you be, it lets you be!
It doesn't follow after or torment you
Just with a look, just with a look.
(Chorus)
Let's go, let's go! To the top we'll go!
Let's go, let's go! To the top we'll go!
Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!
To the top we'll go, funiculi, funicula!
Let's go from here below up to the mountain,
A step away! A step away!
You can see France, Procida, and Spain,
And I see you! And I see you!
You rise, pulled by a cable, quick as a wink,
Into the sky! Into the sky!
We'll rise up like a whirlwind all of a sudden
Knows how to do! Knows how to do!
(Chorus)
Let's go, let's go! To the top we'll go!
Let's go, let's go! To the top we'll go!
Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!
To the top we'll go, funiculi, funicula!
The car has climbed up high, see, climbed up high now,
Right to the top! Right to the top!
It went, and turned around, and came back down,
And now it's stopped! And now it's stopped!
The top is turning round, and round, and round,
Around yourself! Around yourself!
My heart is singing the same refrain:
We should be wed! We should be wed!
(Chorus)
Let's go, let's go! To the top we'll go!
Let's go, let's go! To the top we'll go!
Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!
To the top we'll go, funiculi, funicula!

Traditional English lyrics[edit]

Edward Oxenford, a lyricist and translator of librettos,[22] wrote lyrics, with scant relationship to those of the original version, that became traditional in English-speaking countries.[9] His version of the song often appears with the title "A Merry Life".

Sheet music version

Some think the world is made for fun and frolic,
And so do I! And so do I!
Some think it well to be all melancholic,
To pine and sigh; to pine and sigh;
But I, I love to spend my time in singing,
Some joyous song, some joyous song,
To set the air with music bravely ringing
Is far from wrong! Is far from wrong!
Harken, harken, music sounds a-far!
Harken, harken, with a happy heart!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Joy is everywhere, funiculì, funiculà!

Ah me! 'tis strange that some should take to sighing,
And like it well! And like it well!
For me, I have not thought it worth the trying,
So cannot tell! So cannot tell!
With laugh, with dance and song the day soon passes
Full soon is gone, full soon is gone,
For mirth was made for joyous lads and lasses
To call their own! To call their own!
Harken, harken, hark the soft guitar!
Harken, harken, hark the soft guitar!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Hark the soft guitar, funiculì, funiculà!

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The funicular was later destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 1944.[3]
  2. ^ According to one source, Denza was the son of the proprietor of the Quisisana.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Meloncelli, Raoul (1990). "Luigi Denza". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). Retrieved 26 January 2015 – via Treccani.it.
  2. ^ Fuld, James J. (2000). The Book of World-famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk (5th ed.). Courier. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-486-41475-1.
  3. ^ Smith, Paul (March 1998). "Thomas Cook & Son's Vesuvius Railway" (PDF). Japan Railway & Transport Review: 10–15. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  4. ^ Nuova Antologia di Lettere, Scienze ed Arti (in Italian). Direzione della Nuova Antologia. 1908. p. 576.
  5. ^ Randel, Don Michael (1996). The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music. Harvard University Press. pp. 209–210. ISBN 978-0-674-37299-3.
  6. ^ Foreman, Edward (2001). Authentic Singing: The history of singing. Pro Musica. ISBN 978-1-887-11712-8.
  7. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (2004). Slonimsky Yourke, Electra (ed.). Nicolas Slonimsky: Russian and Soviet music and composers. Routledge. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-415-96866-9.
  8. ^ "273. Denza: Funiculi, funicula". Schoenberg Archives. Archived from the original on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b Trager, Oliver (1997). The American Book of the Dead. Simon and Schuster. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-684-81402-5.
  10. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries Series 3. June 1960. p. 106. Dick Sherman and Bob Sherman. NM; 'new words to P.D. tune"
  11. ^ "The Cashbox Pick of the Week". Cashbox. 22 (19): 16. 21 January 1961.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Joel Whitburn Presents Across the Charts: The 1960s. Record Research. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-89820-175-8.
  13. ^ "Annette Funicello Dream Boy Chart History". Billboard. 27 February 1961. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Somewhere in the Super Mario Bros. movie is a vision that's weird enough to work".
  15. ^ Get Together Songs.
  16. ^ Gilwell Camp Fire Book.
  17. ^ "Spider-Man 2 Pizza Delivery Theme". knowyourmeme.com. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  18. ^ "'Marvel's Spider-Man' Fans Uncover Hilarious 'Spider-Man 2' Game Easter Egg". WWG. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Demons and Underwear and Crabs".
  20. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3C5rB8sm4Y
  21. ^ a b Bivona, Mike (2013). Traveling Around the World with Mike and Barbara Bivona. iUniverse. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4917-1041-8.
  22. ^ Eyles, F. A. H. (1889). Popular Poets of the Period. Griffith, Farran, Okeden, and Welsh. p. 148.

External links[edit]