Funiculì, Funiculà

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"Funiculì, Funiculà"
English title Funiculì, Funiculà
Published 1880
Composer Luigi Denza
Lyricist Peppino Turco
Language Neapolitan
Performed by Mario Lanza

"Funiculì, Funiculà" is a famous 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. It has been widely adapted and recorded since its publication.


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][lower-alpha 1] The song was sung for the first time in the Quisisana Hotel[lower-alpha 2] 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

Six years after "Funiculì, Funiculà" was written, the German composer Richard Strauss heard the song while on a tour of Italy. Thinking that it was a traditional Neapolitan folk song, he incorporated it into his Aus Italien tone poem. Denza filed a lawsuit against Strauss and won; Strauss was forced to pay him a royalty fee.[6] The Russian composer Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov also mistook "Funiculì, Funiculà" for a traditional folk song and used it in his 1907 "Neapolitanskaya pesenka" (Neapolitan Song).[7] Cornetist 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] which was used in an episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld.[citation needed]. An instrumental version was also used in the Woody Allen film Broadway Danny Rose, where it is often played as background music.

Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman wrote a new set of English lyrics to the melody of "Funiculì, Funiculà" titled "Dream Boy," which was released as a single by Annette Funicello on Buena Vista Records (cat. 374) and became a minor hit.[9][lower-alpha 3] "Dream Boy" was featured the following year in the Walt Disney television production Escapade in Florence.[10] An earlier Disney adaptation is in the Mickey and the Beanstalk segment of the 1947 animated feature Fun and Fancy Free in which Mickey Mouse returns with magic beans while a starving Donald Duck and Goofy fantasize about a sumptuous feast.[citation needed] Big Idea Productions' Veggie Tales series used the tune with new lyrics about a top hat, chocolates and a trolley stop for the "Classy Songs with Larry" segment in "Lyle the Kindly Viking."[11]

The tune was used with different lyrics in the commercials for the board game The Grape Escape.

Over the years the song has been performed by many artists including Erna Sack, Anna German, Mario Lanza, Connie Francis, The Grateful Dead,[12] Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, and Il Volo.


Original Neapolitan lyrics

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[13]
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.
Jammo, jammo 'ncoppa, jammo jà,
Jammo, jammo 'ncoppa, jammo jà,
funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà,
'ncoppa, jammo 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!
English translation[13]
I went up this evening, Nanetta
Do you know where? Do you know where?
Where your hard heart can't reach
With scornful wiles! With scornful wiles!
Where the fire burns, but if you run
You can escape it! You can escape it!
It doesn't chase you nor destroy you
Just by a look. Just by a look.
Come on, come on! To the top we'll go!
Come on, come on! To the top we'll go!
Funiculi, funicula, funiculi, funicula!
To the top we'll go, funiculi, funicula!
It's climbed aloft, see, climbed aloft now,
Right to the top! Right to the top!
It went, and turned, and came back down,
And now it's stopped! And now it's stopped!
The top is turning round and round,
Around yourself! Around yourself!
My heart sings that on such a day
We should be wed! We should be wed!

Traditional English lyrics

Edward Oxenford, a lyricist and translator of librettos,[14] wrote lyrics with scant relationship to the original that became traditional in English-speaking countries.[12] 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!


  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 Quisiana.[4]
  3. It charted for two weeks, reaching #87 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1961.[9]


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  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  12. 12.0 12.1 Trager, Oliver (1997). The American Book of the Dead. Simon and Schuster. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-684-81402-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 Bivona, Mike (2013). Traveling Around the World with Mike and Barbara Bivona. iUniverse. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4917-1041-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Eyles, F. A. H. (1889). Popular Poets of the Period. Griffith, Farran, Okeden, and Welsh. p. 148.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links