Napoli has always been the city of music. The connection between the city and this art is very old, as it dates back to when Napoli was a colony of Magna Graecia.Then, in the XVI century, villanella was born and it rapidly spread throughout Europe. Moreover, in the XVII century, tarantella originated from the fusion of two dances, the Arabic mauresque and the Spanish fandango.
The birth of the real canzone napoletana is in the XIX century, which is considered its golden age. At the end of the 1800s, many international singers got interested in Neapolitan music, especially in the figure of cantastorie, who was playing and singing at the same time.
But, the most prosperous period of Neapolitan music is the first half of the XX century, when great authors wrote songs that we are still singing nowadays.
In this article, you will find the music that will accompany you along the streets of Napoli, a playlist of the most beautiful and famous Neapolitan songs.
‘O sole mio - Capurro and Di Capua
‘O sole mio is maybe one of the most famous Neapolitan songs, a classic. It was written in Neapolitan in 1898 by Giovanni Capurro, a director of a Neapolitan newspaper, and composed by Edoardo Di Capua. They didn’t know that they were writing a song that would later become an important part of international music. In fact, the lyrics talk about universal humanity, but they also describe the city of Napoli.
There have been many performances of this song, but the best ones are surely Enrico Caruso’s and Luciano Pavarotti’s.
Torna a Surriento - Fratelli De Curtis
Torna a Surriento is an 1894 song, composed by De Curtis brothers. A classic of Neapolitan music, as the title suggests it talks about Sorrento and the Gulf of Napoli. This song has also been performed by many important personalities of Italian and international music, such as Bocelli, Pavarotti and Caruso.
You can listen to Caruso’s performance, the most famous one.
Tu t’e scurdat ‘e me - Liberato
Tu t’e scurdat ‘e me is a 2017 song by Liberato, a Neapolitan songwriter whose identity is unknown. It’s difficult to put Liberato under a specific genre, as its music merges the Neapolitan neomelodic tradition with modern genres, such as R&B and hip hop.
Tu t’e scurdat ‘e me talks about the love story of a young couple who has with Napoli a special link. This link is shown throughout the video and also in the lyrics of the song, which refer to places of the city such as Mergellina, Procida and Forcella.
You can listen to the song and watch the video here.
‘O surdato ‘nnammurato - Califano e Cannio
‘O surdato ‘nnammurato is one of the most famous songs in Neapolitan language, written by Aniello Califano in 1915 and composed by Enrico Cannio. Even though the melody is happy, the lyrics are full of sadness and melancholy, as the song talks about a soldier in the field during WWI who misses the woman he loves.
There is no person in Napoli or in Italy that doesn’t know this song, and it is also famous abroad. It’s been sung by many important artists, like Anna Magnani in the movie “La Sciantosa”, Luciano Pavarotti, and Massimo Ranieri.
‘A città ‘e Pulecenella
‘A città ‘e Pulecenella is a 1992 song by Claudio Mattone. The song wants to express all the love and admiration for Napoli, in opposition to all the bad things that people say about it. It is also called “a città ‘e Pulecenella” (the city of Pulcinella), in honor of the famous Carnival mask of Pulcinella, who represents all the contradictions of the city.
It is considered one of the most beautiful songs dedicated to Napoli, and it was sung by many important singers, such as Renzo Arbore, Mario Merola, Sal Da Vinci and Gigi d’Alessio.
Napule è - Pino Daniele
Napule è is a 1977 song by Pino Daniele, considered one of the greatest singers that existed in Napoli. This is probably the song that best describes the city because it talks about its contradictions and the difficult reality. But, it also describes the unconditional love for it.
The song is also the anthem of the football team Napoli Ssc.