L’ emigrazione

Emigration

The phenomenon of Italian emigration has a massive reach, unmatched by any other nation: nearly 27 million Italian citizens emigrated between 1876 and 1988. However, it reached its peak in 1913, with 870 thousand expatriates, mainly going to non-European countries, and a record number emigrating to the United States (45%). Emigration, 70% from the South, has been the inspiration for numerous popular and original songs. For this anthology we’ve selected traditional tunes that have been revived (Italia bella mostrati gentile; Merica Merica) and original songs that recount tragedies at sea (Titanic; Il tragico naufragio della nave Sirio) and individual stories from the beginning of the century (Amerigo). Then there is emigration within Italy, which characterized a good part of the past century: popular songs such as Maremma amara and industrial Northern vignettes that drew people from the South such as Il treno che viene dal Sud and L’Auto targata “TO”. The political song movement, launched in the mid-1960s, has produced numerous indictments against a phenomenon that hid exploitation and humiliation behind promises of happiness. Some of these include: Partono gli emigranti, A Zurigo uno mi dice, and La ballata dell’emigrazione. The collection ends with Pane e coraggio, a bitter reflection on the new emigration that compels crowds of desperate people to cross the Mediterranean and land on our shores, transforming the Bel Paese into the new promised land.