The Hymn of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies written by Giuseppe Verdi

by Federico Quagliuolo

The anthem of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies has as author one of the fathers of the Unification of Italy? It is a paradoxical story if we think that it exists a score called “La Patria” written by Giuseppe Verdi.

Who knows what the nostalgic for the Lombard League, which use the "Go Thought" how one of the emblems of "northernism", if they knew that Verdi himself, in 1848, wrote a hymn called "La Patria - dedicated to Ferdinand II of Bourbon“: Should have replaced the historic hymn of Giovanni Paisiello.

King Ferdinand he is hailed as father of the country and the text ends with a chorus of "Long live the king!“.

Inno Verdi Prima Pagina Spartito
The first page of the score of Verdi's anthem

The new anthem of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in times of revolution

We need to contextualize the historical situation: the hymn was written on or after riots of 1848, when all of Europe rose up against the monarchies. There were also in Naples numerous demonstrations against Ferdinand II, enough to force him to issue one constitution (which was then revoked the following year). This was probably precisely the historical moment in which the king of the Two Sicilies, which he initially was well regarded by the liberals of Europe, the future of his state was definitely at stake because of the politics of zero tolerance and of the suspicion that arose right after the revolution.

In times of renovation, probably, it was thought that even the hymn of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies written under Ferdinand IV should have changed.

And here it is then the music of Ernani, an opera composed a few years earlier by Verdi, they were enriched with the words of Michele Cucciniello:

Beautiful homeland of spilled blood
if they are steaming red
fingerprints
no more thorns tear you apart
front
the palm yielded martyrdom
Long live the king!
Long live the king!
Long live the king!

However, the hymn was soon forgotten as, by tradition and by emotional value, Paisiello's music remained official. Verdi's work was found only in 1973, more than a hundred years after the fall of the Kingdom, by the hand of the master Roberto de Simone, which he dug into the immense archives of Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella and studied the origins of this story, which we would otherwise have forgotten.

Was Giuseppe Verdi Bourbon?

The accounts do not add up: Verdi was one of the most passionate supporters of the unification of Italy, today squares, streets and monuments are dedicated to him. How is it possible that twenty years before unity did he support the monarchy of Naples?

Some authoritative scholars, including the Institute of Verdian Studies, they believe that the hymn “La Patria” is a clandestine plagiarism of a never authorized text. It actually is strange that Verdi, a strong supporter of Mazzini, has supported the Bourbon policy. Moreover the composer was in Paris in 1848.

Michele Cocciainstead, he claimed to have also found the papers in which the composer's consent for the diffusion of his work could be clearly read, in fact recognizing it as original. And even if there were no awards, Verdi's hymn was certainly known in Naples.
Moreover, when the Busseto composer became senator, he fought a lot for promote copyright laws and to protect themselves from the very numerous plagiarism that he had suffered in his career. If the Bourbon anthem had also been one of these, probably, Verdi would have talked about it in some way.

There are also those who like the historian Pasquale Galasso and the teacher De Simone, see in Verdi an "opportunism": Italy was about to begin its process of unification and all the intellectuals of the country would have trusted any monarch willing to do the feat. And Verdi tried to to ingratiate himself with the king of Naples, moreover, “recycling” an already existing melody.

Indeed, even before the unitary process began, Ferdinand II was proposed to unify Italy, but the monarch never considered this hypothesis for avoid conflicts with Rome. The King was described by his supporters, but also by his more moderate opponents as Antonio Winspeare, as a "father of a family", who ran the kingdom by having borders as the only interest.

However, very symbolic and full of meaning was a phrase uttered by Ferdinand II: "We Bourbons are men of other times, we do not belong to this century“, Just to emphasize the sense of strangeness that the king of Naples had with regard to European events, which were advancing with great strides towards the conflicts of the twentieth century. But Naples knew this history under another flag, that one Italian.

Inno del regno delle Due Sicilie Giuseppe Verdi
The cover of the hymn of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies

-Federico Quagliuolo

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