E. A. Mario

Article

July 5, 2022

E. A. Mario, pseudonym of Giovanni Ermete Gaeta (Naples, May 5, 1884 - Naples, June 24, 1961), was an Italian lyricist and composer, author of numerous highly successful songs, such as La song del Piave and the black Tammurriata. Some pieces were composed in Italian, others in Neapolitan language; of them, almost always, he wrote both the lyrics and the music. Together with Salvatore Di Giacomo, Ernesto Murolo and Libero Bovio, he is to be counted among the greatest exponents of the Neapolitan song of the first half of the twentieth century and one of the undisputed protagonists of the Italian song from the first postwar period to the fifties, both for the huge production - due to the his very happy poetic vein - both for the quality of his works. Of fervently patriotic sentiments, he was the author of numerous poems and songs of patriotic significance.

Biography

The future E. A. Mario was born in Naples to a modest and poor family of Pellezzano on May 5, 1884, in a low part of Vico Tutti i Santi, close to the Parish of S. Maria di Tutti i Santi, in one of the most popular districts of the city ( Borgo S. Antonio Abate). His father, Michele Gaeta, was a barber and his mother, Maria della Monica, a housewife. The back room of their father's barbershop was their whole house. A place where many family members lived: his brother Ciccillo, his sisters Agata and Anna, him, his mother and father. In two other small rooms, three aunts and an uncle. He married in 1919 with Adelina, daughter of a very famous actress at the time, Leonilde Gaglianone. Their engagement was very short: it lasted just three months. From their marriage three daughters were born: Delia, Italia and Bruna. In his youth he frequented another great Neapolitan poet and playwright, by whom he was very well liked, Eduardo Scarpetta, father of the brothers Eduardo, Peppino and Titina De Filippo. He collaborated a lot with the greatest Neapolitan publisher of the time, Ferdinando Bideri. He never became rich, because very soon, due to family needs and above all due to a serious illness of his wife, he decided to sell the rights to all his songs to a publishing house in Milan, of which he received, in the following years, only one. very small percentage. E. A. Mario was director of the students' choir of the Nunziatella Military School around 1921.

The study

He was a passionate and avid reader of books, especially historical ones, and thus managed to form a very rich and multidisciplinary culture. It was a habit of him, from time to time, to enrich his dialectic with always precise quotations. In his youth he enrolled in the Nautical Institute but, as the school fees were too demanding for the modest family economy, he was never able to finish his studies and become a long-term captain.

The mandolin

When he was about ten years old, a valet, entered his father's barber shop, forgot a mandolin on his chair and, thanks to that instrument, which he began to strum by himself, he began to play and began to compose the first melodies. He then learned to play the mandolin well and learned to read music by himself thanks to a weekly publication of the Sonzogno Publishing House, "Music without a teacher". The entire collection is still in the possession of his daughter Bruna. Many called him "maestro", but he, despite having in fact become a musician, shielded himself by saying that he was not. He composed the melody, the complete harmony of the motif and, later, an expert teacher transcribed the scores without changing almost anything of the original motif, on the precise texts in the rhythm which, already in the sketch, were perfect and easy to transcribe on the staff.

Work at the post office

At a very young age he worked in the Royal Italian Post Office in Naples, working in the offices of Palazzo Gravina, in the Monteoliveto area, the old headquarters of the Neapolitan Post Office, where - a few years before him - he had worked