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Giovanni Capurro


Giovanni Capurro (1859 – 1920) was a Neapolitan poet, journalist, musician and singer-songerwriter. Both nationally and internationally, he is best remembered today as the lyricist of 'O Sole Mio composed in collaboration with the composer Eduardo di Capua. (Recently, a second composer has been recognized. See this link.)

[Also listen to this audio link to 'O sole mio.               [Lyrics are here.]


Capurro was born in Naples. He made his living as a poet, journalist and playwright. Though writing seems to have been his primary passion, he studied flute at, and graduated from, the Naples Music Conservatory, and he had a good singing voice. He wrote poetry in both Italian and Neapolitan dialect, and his contributions to Neapolitan poetry (both in the form of song lyrics and poetry published separately) are a substantial and important part of the repertoire of dialect literature in Italy. He made very little money from his writing, having agreed to sell the rights to what eventually became one of the most famous songs in the history of popular music, for a one-time fee to a publishing house.

obituary from il Mattino, January 20, 1920 -
'O sole mio is gone

   After unspeakable torment, the great lyricist of Carduccianelle, N'atu munasterio, Napulitanata, the inexhaustible writer of verses to delightful songs such as 'O sole mio, Ammore che gira, Totonno 'e Quagliarelle, 'O scugnizzo, 'O guaglione d' 'o speziale, Lily Kangy, Chitarra mia, 'A chiantosa and a thousand other tiny imcomparable masterpieces has passed away. If Giovanni Capurro, journalist, poet and lyricist, had not been forced to struggle just to survive and had he been better able to publicize his exceptional work to the public—he was disgracefully poorly compensated—what great works he might still have given us!
  Instead, Giovanni Capurro, after 30 years of admirable and inimitable work earned the title of a "sympathetic vagabond of dialect poetry" and, perhaps, because of the sympathy he awakened in all who knew him, died extremely poor, surrounded by his wife and three children, all of whom adored him, as well as by some good-hearted and devoted friends who helped to make his final suffering more bearable.



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