History Of The Italian Anthem

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The music was composed by Michele Novaro in 1847 , to words written by Goffredo Mameli, a very young poet.  The song is also known as L'Inno di Mameli.   Beginning in 1861, when Italy became a united nation, the song was known as the "March of the House of Savoy" and it became the official Anthem in 1948 when Italy finally was proclaimed a Republic. 

"Fratelli d'Italia, l'Italia s'è desta" translates to "Italian Brothers, Italy has Arisen".  The words are meant to remind the battles for freedom waged by the Lombard towns, the Florentine republic, the Genoese, together with the young Balilla, against the Austrians, and the Sicilians against the French in the so-called Sicilian Vespers. 

There are different versions of how Mameli actually came to write the anthem. One reports that Mameli took the anthem to the musician Michele Novaro a friend, who lived in Turin.  Novaro composed the music, and  Mameli returned to Genoa where he presented  words and music to his friends.  Shortly thereafter, Fratelli D'Italia was played for the first time, at a popular assembly. The tune began to run like wildfire throughout the peninsula. It was on everyone's lips, in defiance of the Austrian, Bourbon and Papal police.

The other and equally persuasive story goes that one evening in  1847, in the house of the American consul, the center of discussion was the uprisings of the day.   Urged by many of the consul's guests, Mameli improvised a few lines on the spot and later wrote the rest. A few days later a friend took the poem to Turin and read it aloud at a nobleman's party.  The composer Michele Novaro who was a guest at the same party, tried a few notes on the piano and then, too, went home to compose the sequel. The anthem was sung for the first time the next day by a group of political exiles in the Caffè della Lega Italiana of Turin.

Text of Italian Anthem in Italian and English
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Source: Commune di Genova, Musicisti Virtuali, Encarta 1999, Britannica 2000
Created: 06/18*00 - Updated: 06/24/01