The origins of the Canzone napolitana
remain a mystery. It seems that the tune is not a folksong, and it clearly has the air of a composed salon piece of some kind. Liszt was not in Italy in the year of its composition, although he had certainly been to Naples earlier and at length, and there are no clues to the work’s provenance in the published correspondence. However, the music is staightforward enough, and delicately laid out for the piano in F sharp major. For some reason, Liszt almost immediately reissued the piece transposed to F major with a few small alterations—especially at the end—under the subtitle ‘Notturno pour piano’ and the description ‘Edition nouvelle. Arrangement élégant’.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1994