Monday, August 24, 2009

Funiculi Funicula

On this day in history (August 24, AD 79), Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying several Roman cities, including Pompeii.

Mount Vesuvius towers over the landscape near the Italian city of Naples. Vesuvius is still an active volcano, but the mountain has long drawn people for relaxation and recreation. In 1880, a funicular railway was opened on Mount Vesuvius. To commemorate that opening, Italian composer Luigi Denza wrote a song -- Funiculi Funicula -- with words by Peppino Turco. The song proved to be so popular that Richard Strauss used it in his symphony, Aus Italien, thinking that it was an Italian folk song; needless to say, a lawsuit ensued, and a royalties were awarded to Denza.

Just as Pompeii was destroyed in an eruption of Vesuvius, the funicular railway was destroyed in a 1944 eruption of the volcano. Still the song remains a favorite.

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