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Alpine and Military Songs

Enduring the harsh life in the mountains, the Alpini had as their companions not only their muli (donkeys), scarponi (boots), zaino (knapsack) which carried a bit of hard polenta, cheese and a bottle of wine, but also their music. Their songs consisted of simple but comtemporary lyrics that reflected the character and realism of their people. The words speak of strong but restrained emotions, tried and true reflections of the things that matter: the home, love, joy, friendship, nature, labour, suffering, death, tales at times with a touch of fatalism, at other times with lighthearted irony, but always with dignity.

The songs from the Valdostana and Piedmont regions are more solemn because they are more imposed with their mountains, those from Lombardia, Trentino, and Veneto are more fanciful and varied, while those from Friuli alternate between allegria and malinconia that is typical of the spirit of this land. The later songs from Abruzzi that are called 'alpini songs' echo their fascination with ancient songs. To sing on those occasions was one of the few consolations for the people who sang spontaneously while working, perhaps to end a day with joy, at wedding parties, or at an osteria on Sunday with a bottle of wine in front of them, in gay company to forget the hard labours of the week. In these settings were born dances, songs of nostalgia, love, war, emigration, from the sincere good spirits in the nature of a song and the ambience and the sentiment that their correspondence creates. Listening to the choral groups that recreate these songs, apart from their musicality, we are also drawn to the lyrics which are highly evocative narratives.

Many of the famous Alpini songs originated during the First World War and reflect upon the hardships of the "War in Snow and Ice". They composed dozens of songs which make up the majority of Italian war songs. These songs, unlike La leggenda del Piave or La Canzone del Grappa, are far from rhetorical, rather they are heart-felt and sad, with a distinctive musical style.

The Alpini songs gained popularity among the Italian line infantry, who amended each song's lyrics to suit their own situation. After the war they became part of the Alpine tradition and remain well known and loved to this day.

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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran

Created: Sunday, August 13, 2006; Last updated: Monday, August 19, 2013
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