Classic Neapolitan music is said to have began in 1839, when the universally popular “Te voglio bene assaje” was written. The origins of the song are uncertain: the lyrics are almost unanimously attributed to poet Raffaele Sacco, while music is not as easily pinned down – and some say it was the fruit of none other than Gaetano Donizetti’s genius.
Other historical events occurred in 1839: according to legend, army general Abner Doubleday invented baseball in that year, while the first Italian railway, running from Naples to Portici, started working. Like a steam train, Italian music set out to conquer the world, reaching the height of success in the United States.
Until the 1960s, Neapolitan music regularly travelled across the ocean to bring its variety and melodic creativity to the homeland of blues and rock music.
In the genre’s history, another important date is 1944, when “Tammurriata nera” was written by E.A. Mario and Edoardo Nicolardi. The song tells the story of a child of color, born from a Neapolitan woman and an American soldier during the US Army occupation in Italy. A few years later, the Italian Baseball League had its first season.
Here are some Neapolitan music scores from the 1900s, composed with notes, harmony, and cultural exchanges.