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Authors of the Neapolitan songs

Vincenzo d'Annibale
(24th May 1894, Naples – 14th April 1950, Naples)

Vincenzo d'Annibale, Italian composer and orchestra conductor, was born in Naples on 24th May 1894, in the Sanità district, from mother Fortunata Maietta and father Luigi d'Annibale who was a small manufacturer of gloves, the production of which, at that time, was widespread in Naples and known all over the world.

Vincenzo d'Annibale
at the age of 18

Vincenzo d'Annibale received his diploma in piano at the age of nineteen at the San Pietro a Majella Conservatory in Naples, he was a favorite student of Giovanni Barbieri, composer and piano teacher at the Conservatory. Already in 1912 when he was only eighteen years old Vincenzo d'Annibale released the collection "Piedigrotta Vittoriosa" (Victorious Piedigrotta) dedicated to the Savoy victory in Libya, which included eight songs: "Cose passate" (Past things), "E m'hanno ditto!" (And they have told me!), "Tuppe-ttu…" (Thump thump…), "'Nzuonno" (In my dream) and others which aroused great interest among critics; the newspapers of that time wrote: "… the unknown and resolute maestro d'Annibale: only d'Annibale, daring and talented, could afford compositions that are strong beyond words".

From 1915 to 1918 he participated in the First World War as part of the 2nd regiment of Bersaglieri (Riflemen) receiving a medal. Just after the end of the war Vincenzo d'Annibale greeted General Armando Diaz in Naples with his song "Pace Gloriosa" (Glorious peace), hymn of Victory.

In 1926 he also composed the song "Napule, a 'o Principe Umberto" (Naples, to Prince Umberto) on verses by Giuseppe Dell'Aquila and performed it in honor of Prince Umberto of Savoy on Plebischito Square in Naples, conducting an orchestra of two hundred musicians for which he was received at Court and had as a gift a brooch and a cigarette case.

In 1921 Vincenzo d'Annibale was appointed by king Vittorio Emanuele III "Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy" and then "Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy" in 1937.

Having devoted himself to the Neapolitan songs, Vincenzo d'Annibale collaborated with many great poets among whom were Salvatore Di Giacomo, Giovanni Capurro, Roberto Bracco, Ferdinando Russo; his collaboration with Raffaele Chiurazzi and Libero Bovio was more intense.

He was also deputy editor of the Santa Lucia Publishing House, founded in Naples in 1922; a little later d'Annibale joined the Publishing House "La Bottega dei 4" (The Studio of the Four), founded in 1933 by four authors: Libero Bovio, Nicola Valente, Gaetano Lama and Ernesto Tagliaferri.

Libero Bovio, one of his closest friends and his companion, wrote about the Neapolitan music of Vincenzo d'Annibale: "… Strains of guitar, sobs and sighs of lovers, the roar of the stormy sea, country voices, the melancholy of moonlight, the triumph of the sun: these are all the songs of Vincenzo d'Annibale. It is Naples that throbs, laughs, cries, trembles in the forty-eight bars of this eternal child with restless eyes…"

Among the numerous songs by Vincenzo d'Annibale the most famous are: "Tu ca sì mamma" (You are the mother), "'E denare d' 'o 'nfinferinfi!" (The easy money!), "Chi sì tu?" (Who are you?), "Suspirata" (Desirable), "Casarella a Marechiare" (My little house in Marechiaro), "Duorme tu sola" (Only you sleep), "Nun sò bella" (I'm not beautiful), "'A luna" (The moon), "Maggio m'ha scritto" (May has written to me), "Aria 'e Pusilleco" (Air of Posillipo), "Figlio, nun mannà dollare!" (Son, don't send me dollars!), "Terra straniera" (Foreign land), "Voce napulitana" (Neapolitan voice) and the sad song "'A canzona 'e Surriento" (The song about Sorrento), his last song composed shortly before his death. But the song "'O paese d' 'o sole" (The land of the sun), which became famous all over the world, brought him the greatest success.

Libero Bovio's last poem "Addio a Maria" (Goodbye to Maria) written by him a few hours before his death and dedicated to his wife Maria Di Furia, later was set to music by Vincenzo d'Annibale at the request of Maria.

Vincenzo d'Annibale and Libero Bovio
with their families

Vincenzo d'Annibale also was the author of music for several patriotic anthems, including: "Avanti, Savoia!" (Forward, Savoy!), "Delenda" (Austria) (Defeated (Austria)), "Fiume" (River), anthem to the infantry assault unit, "A Dante" (To Dante), and later "Ritornerò" (I'll come back), "All'erta, Italia!" (Alert, Italy!) and "Trieste sospirata" (Desirable Trieste).

Vincenzo d'Annibale had six children with his first wife Concetta Longino: three daughters and three sons, among whom Vincenzo Jr. who also became a composer and Giuseppe who drowned at sea at the age of 24 saving his friend. After becoming a widower, Vincenzo d'Annibale married Giovanna Murabito in 1946 with whom he spent the last years of his life.

He gave new impulse and importance to his father's glove company by exporting gloves all over the world.

Vincenzo d'Annibale with her second wife Giovanna in Venice

Libero Bovio wrote in the preface to his collection of 1934 "24 Neapolitan Songs by Vincenzo d'Annibale": "… he tirelessly created songs, gloves and children: three things on which he imprinted his noble trademark".

Vincenzo d'Annibale died of lung cancer on 14th April 1950 at the age of 55. His second wife, Giovanna Murabito, was with him until the last minute. Becoming a widow at the age of 32, Giovanna devoted her life to her husband's children and grandchildren, continuing to honor the memory of him until her death in 2010.

The composer d'Annibale is buried in Naples in the sector of Illustrious Men of the Poggioreale Cemetery. In 1986 a street in Naples, in the Vomero district, was named after him. In 2017 his archive and piano were transferred to the National Library of Naples.

His son Vincenzo Jr. (1920 – 1987) followed in his father's footsteps and became a composer and relaunched the family glove manufacturing company after the adversities of the Second World War.

Vincenzo d'Annibale Jr.

In 1965 for the Naples Festival Vincenzo d'Annibale Jr. composed the song "'Nu saluto" (My last goodbye) on verses by Tito Manlio, then "Allegretto ma non troppo" (I'm cheerful but not very) on verses by Vincenzo De Crescenzo which was presented at the festival in 1967. Together with Enzo Bonagura he wrote the songs "A la Gajola" (To the Gaiola) and "Va, chitarra!" (Play, my guitar!). His sad song "Sulo c' 'o mare" (Alone with the sea), based on poems by Vincenzo Belfiore, which won the second prize of the Capri Festival, told about the death of his young brother who drowned in the sea.

He also collaborated with Ettore De Mura and E.A. Mario (Giovanni Ermete Gaeta) in whose house he always took part in evenings of music and poetry.

Like his father Vincenzo d'Annibale Jr. also lost a young son.

He was married to Albina De Concilio, a pianist, a graduate of the San Pietro a Majella Conservatory, who said that one day she confessed to her father-in-law Vincenzo Sr. that she did not really like the most famous Neapolitan song "'O sole mio" and he answered to her: "You didn't understand anything, it's a poem!"

d'Annibale family archive