Luigi Denza Biography (BBC)
At the time of Luigi Denza's death, in London on 26 January 1922, the Italian composer was a prominent figure in London's musical life. Having moved to England almost 40 years earlier, he had been Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music since 1898, and was also a director at the London Academy of Music.
He was born in Castellammare di Stabia in the province of Naples, into auspicious musical surroundings - his father was an amateur musician who counted among his friends the composer Rossini and the leading tenor of the day, Giovanni Battista Rubini. At the age of 16, Luigi enrolled at the Naples Conservatory, where one of his fellow students was Paolo Tosti - who also became a celebrated song composer, as well as the singing teacher to Margherita of Savoy, later Queen of Italy.
Denza was made Sub-Professor at the Conservatory in 1866, and 10 years later his only opera, Wallenstein (after Schiller), won some success in Naples. But after spending an opera season in London he settled in the city in 1883. Most of his 500 or so songs were composed following his move, though his most popular hit, "Funiculì, Funiculà", came three years earlier.
Denza's reputation continues to rest on his songs, which are well-established in the canon of Neapolitan ballads, having attracted tenors ranging not only from Caruso to Pavarotti, but from Jussi Bjšrling to Dmitry Hvorostovsky. Other well-known songs include "Occhi di fatta" ("Fateful eyes"), "Se É" ("If É"), "Torna!" ("Return!") and "Luna fedel!" ("Faithful moon").
Profile © Jonny Volcano
Luigi Denza Tracks