Luigi Denza (24 February 1846 in Castellammare di Stabia – 27 January 1922 in London) was an Italian composer. Denza was born at Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples. He studied music under Saverio Mercadante and Paolo Serrao at the Naples Conservatory. In 1884 he moved to London, taught singing and became a professor of singing at the Royal Academy of Music in 1898.
Denza is best remembered for "Funiculì, Funiculà" (1880), a humorous Neapolitan song inspired by the inauguration of a funicular at the summit of Vesuvius. Neapolitan journalistPeppino Turco contributed the lyrics and may have prompted the song by suggesting that Denza compose something for the Piedigrotta song-writing competition. "Funiculì, Funiculà" was published the same year by Ricordi and within a year had sold a million copies.[a]
In addition to "Funiculì, Funiculà", Denza composed hundreds of popular songs. Some of them, such as "Luna fedel", "Occhi di fata", and "Se", have been sung by Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, Carlo Bergonzi, Luciano Pavarotti, and Ronan Tynan. He was also an able mandolinist and guitarist, and for these instruments he wrote such compositions as "Ricordo di Quisisana", "Come to me", "Nocturne", and several others. Denza also wrote an opera, Wallenstein (1876).[b]