“Funiculì, Funiculà” 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.
“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. It was Turco who prompted Denza to compose it, perhaps as a joke, to commemorate the opening of the first funicular on Mount Vesuvius in that year. The song was sung for the first time in the Quisisana Hotel in Castellammare di Stabia. It was presented by Turco and Denza at the Piedigrotta festival during the same year and became immensely popular in Italy and abroad. Published by Casa Ricordi, the sheet music sold over a million copies in a year.
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), The Grateful Dead, 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
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”.
Annette Funicello included the song on her album of Italian songs titled Italiannette and also released it as a single, it became a minor hit.
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