Arturo Toscanini
Overview
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 conductor. One of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, he was renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory. As music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra
NBC Symphony Orchestra
The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company especially for conductor Arturo Toscanini...

 he became a household name (especially in the U.S.) through his radio and television broadcasts and many recordings of the operatic and symphonic repertoire.
Toscanini was born in Parma
Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

, Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna
Emilia–Romagna is an administrative region of Northern Italy comprising the two historic regions of Emilia and Romagna. The capital is Bologna; it has an area of and about 4.4 million inhabitants....

, and won a scholarship to the local music conservatory, where he studied the cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

.
Encyclopedia
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 conductor. One of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, he was renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory. As music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra
NBC Symphony Orchestra
The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company especially for conductor Arturo Toscanini...

 he became a household name (especially in the U.S.) through his radio and television broadcasts and many recordings of the operatic and symphonic repertoire.

Early years

Toscanini was born in Parma
Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

, Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna
Emilia–Romagna is an administrative region of Northern Italy comprising the two historic regions of Emilia and Romagna. The capital is Bologna; it has an area of and about 4.4 million inhabitants....

, and won a scholarship to the local music conservatory, where he studied the cello
Cello
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

. He joined the orchestra
Orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

 of an opera company, with which he toured South America in 1886. While presenting Aida
Aida
Aida sometimes spelled Aïda, is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette...

in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, Leopoldo Miguez
Leopoldo Miguez
Leopoldo Miguez was a Brazilian composer.Born in Niterói, Miguez studied at conservatories in Paris. He was known as a champion of the music of Richard Wagner. He also directed the "Instituto Nacional de Musica." He also wrote the music for Brazil's Hymn for the Proclamation of the Republic. He...

, the locally hired conductor, reached the summit of a two-month escalating conflict with the performers due to his rather poor command of the work, to the point that the singers went on strike and forced the company's general manager to seek a substitute conductor. Carlo Superti and Aristide Venturi tried unsuccessfully to finish the work. In desperation, the singers suggested the name of their assistant Chorus Master, who knew the whole opera from memory. Although he had no conducting experience, Toscanini was eventually convinced by the musicians to take up the baton at 9:15 P.M., and led a performance of the two-and-a-half hour opera. The public was taken by surprise, at first by the youth and sheer aplomb of this unknown conductor, then by his solid mastery. The result was astounding acclaim. For the rest of that season Toscanini conducted eighteen operas, all with absolute success. Thus began his career as a conductor, at age 19.

Upon returning to Italy, Toscanini set out on a dual path for some time. He continued to conduct, his first appearance in Italy being at the Teatro Carignano in Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, on November 4, 1886, in the world premiere of the revised version of Alfredo Catalani
Alfredo Catalani
Alfredo Catalani was an Italian operatic composer. He is best remembered for his operas Loreley and La Wally...

's Edmea (it had had its premiere in its original form at La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

, Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, on 27 February of that year). This was the beginning of Toscanini's life-long friendship and championing of Catalani; he even named his first daughter Wally after the heroine of Catalani's opera La Wally
La Wally
La Wally is a four-act opera by Alfredo Catalani, composed on a libretto by Luigi Illica, and first performed at La Scala, Milan on 20 January 1892....

.
However, he also returned to his chair in the cello section, and participated as cellist in the world premiere of Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

's Otello
Otello
Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on February 5, 1887....

(La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

, Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, 1887) under the composer's supervision. Verdi, who habitually complained that conductors never seemed interested in directing his scores the way he had written them, was impressed by reports from Arrigo Boito
Arrigo Boito
Arrigo Boito , aka Enrico Giuseppe Giovanni Boito, pseudonym Tobia Gorrio, was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff, and his own opera Mefistofele...

 about Toscanini's ability to interpret his scores. The composer was also impressed when Toscanini consulted him personally about the Te Deum, suggesting an allargando where it was not set out in the score. Verdi said that he had left it out for fear that "certain interpreters would have exaggerated the marking".

National and international fame

Gradually the young musician's reputation as an operatic conductor of unusual authority and skill supplanted his cello career. In the following decade he consolidated his career in Italy, entrusted with the world premieres of Puccini
Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

's La bohème
La bohème
La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

and Leoncavallo
Ruggero Leoncavallo
Ruggero Leoncavallo was an Italian opera composer. His two-act work Pagliacci remains one of the most popular works in the repertory, appearing as number 20 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.-Biography:...

's Pagliacci
Pagliacci
Pagliacci , sometimes incorrectly rendered with a definite article as I Pagliacci, is an opera consisting of a prologue and two acts written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It recounts the tragedy of a jealous husband in a commedia dell'arte troupe...

. In 1896, Toscanini conducted his first symphonic concert (in Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, with works by Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

, Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

, Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

, and Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

). He exhibited a considerable capacity for hard work: in 1898 he conducted 43 concerts in Turin. By 1898 he was principal conductor at La Scala, where he remained until 1908, returning as Music Director, 1921-1929. He took the Scala Orchestra to the United States on a concert tour in 1920/21; it was during that tour that Toscanini made his first recordings (for the Victor Talking Machine Company
Victor Talking Machine Company
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey....

).

Outside of Europe, he conducted at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 in New York (1908–1915) as well as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1926–1936). He toured Europe with the New York Philharmonic in 1930; he and the musicians were acclaimed by critics and audiences wherever they went. Toscanini was the first non-German conductor to appear at Bayreuth
Bayreuth Festspielhaus
The or Bayreuth Festival Theatre is an opera house north of Bayreuth, Germany, dedicated solely to the performance of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner...

 (1930–1931), and the New York Philharmonic was the first non-German orchestra to play there. In the 1930s he conducted at the Salzburg Festival
Salzburg Festival
The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

 (1934–1937) and at the inaugural concert in 1936 of the Palestine Orchestra (later renamed the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is the leading symphony orchestra in Israel. It was originally known as the Palestine Orchestra, and in Hebrew as התזמורת הסימפונית הארץ ישראלית The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (abbreviation IPO; Hebrew: התזמורת הפילהרמונית הישראלית, ha-Tizmoret ha-Filharmonit...

) in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, and later performed with them in Jerusalem, Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

, Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 and Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

.

During his career, Toscanini worked with such legendary artists as Enrico Caruso, Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

, Ezio Pinza
Ezio Pinza
Ezio Pinza was an Italian basso opera singer with a rich, smooth and sonorous voice. He spent 22 seasons at New York's Metropolitan Opera, appearing in more than 750 performances of 50 operas...

, Jussi Björling
Jussi Björling
Johan Jonatan "Jussi" Björling was a Swedish tenor. One of the leading operatic singers of the 20th Century, Björling appeared frequently at the Royal Opera House in London, La Scala in Milan, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City as well as at other major European opera...

, and Geraldine Farrar
Geraldine Farrar
Geraldine Farrar was an American soprano opera singer and film actress, noted for her beauty, acting ability, and "the intimate timbre of her voice." She had a large following among young women, who were nicknamed "Gerry-flappers".- Early life and opera career :Farrar was born in Melrose,...

. Although he also worked with Wagnerian heldentenor Lauritz Melchior
Lauritz Melchior
Lauritz Melchior was a Danish and later American opera singer. He was the pre-eminent Wagnerian tenor of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and has since come to be considered the quintessence of his voice type.-Biography:...

, he would not work with Melchior's frequent partner Kirsten Flagstad
Kirsten Flagstad
Kirsten Målfrid Flagstad was a Norwegian opera singer and a highly regarded Wagnerian soprano...

 after her political sympathies became suspect during World War II; it was Helen Traubel
Helen Traubel
Helen Francesca Traubel was an American opera and concert singer. A dramatic soprano, she was best known for her Wagnerian roles, especially those of Brünnhilde and Isolde. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, she began her career as a concert singer and went on to sing at the Metropolitan...

 who sang with Melchior instead of Flagstad at the Toscanini concerts.

Departure from Italy to the United States

In 1919, Toscanini ran unsuccessfully as a Fascist parliamentary candidate in Milan. He had been called "the greatest conductor in the world" by Fascist leader Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. However, he became disillusioned with fascism and repeatedly defied the Italian dictator
Dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...

 after the latter's ascent to power in 1922. He refused to display Mussolini's photograph or conduct the Fascist anthem Giovinezza
Giovinezza
"Giovinezza" is the official hymn of the Italian National Fascist Party, regime, and army, and was the unofficial national anthem of Italy between 1924 and 1943...

at La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

. He raged to a friend, "If I were capable of killing a man, I would kill Mussolini."

At a memorial concert for Italian composer Giuseppe Martucci
Giuseppe Martucci
Giuseppe Martucci was an Italian composer, conductor, pianist and teacher. As a composer and teacher he was influential in reviving Italian interest in non-operatic music. As a conductor he helped to introduce Richard Wagner's operas to Italy and also gave important early concerts of English music...

 on May 14, 1931 at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

, he was ordered to begin by playing Giovinezza but he refused even though the fascist foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

 was present in the audience. Afterwards he was, in his own words, "attacked, injured and repeatedly hit in the face" by a group of blackshirts. Mussolini, incensed by the conductor's refusal, had his phone tapped, placed him under constant surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 and took away his passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

. The passport was returned only after a world outcry over Toscanini's treatment. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Toscanini left Italy. He would return seven years later to conduct a concert at the restored La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

 Opera House, which was destroyed by bombs during the war.

NBC Symphony

Toscanini returned to the United States where the NBC Symphony Orchestra
NBC Symphony Orchestra
The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company especially for conductor Arturo Toscanini...

 was created for him in 1937. He conducted his first NBC broadcast concert on December 25, 1937, in NBC Studio 8-H
NBC Radio City Studios
NBC Radio City Studios is the name given to radio and television studio complexes in New York's Rockefeller Center, San Francisco, and the former radio-TV complex located at the northeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood, California....

 in New York City's Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering between 48th and 51st streets in New York City, United States. Built by the Rockefeller family, it is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan, spanning the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. It was declared a National...

. The acoustics of the specially built studio were very dry; some remodeling in 1939 added a bit more reverberation. (In 1950, the studio was further remodeled for television productions; today it is used by NBC for Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

. In 1980, it was used by Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta is an Indian conductor of western classical music. He is the Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.-Biography:...

 and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a series of special televised NBC concerts called "Live From Studio 8H", the first one being a tribute to Toscanini, punctuated by clips from his television concerts.)

The NBC broadcasts were preserved on large transcription discs, recorded at both 78-rpm and 33-1/3 rpm, until NBC began using magnetic tape in 1947. NBC used special RCA high fidelity microphones both for the broadcasts and for recording them; these microphones can be seen in some photographs of Toscanini and the orchestra. Some of Toscanini's recording sessions for RCA Victor were mastered on sound film in a process developed about 1941, as detailed by RCA producer Charles O'Connell in his memoirs, On and Off The Record. In addition, hundreds of hours of Toscanini's rehearsals with the NBC were preserved and are now housed in the Toscanini Legacy archive at The New York Public Library.

Toscanini was often criticized for neglecting American music; however, on November 5, 1938, he conducted the world premieres of two orchestral works by Samuel Barber
Samuel Barber
Samuel Osborne Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music...

, Adagio for Strings
Adagio for Strings
Adagio for Strings is a work by Samuel Barber, arranged for string orchestra from the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11. Barber finished the arrangement in 1936, the same year as he wrote the quartet...

and Essay for Orchestra
Essay for Orchestra (Barber)
Samuel Barber's Essay for Orchestra , completed in the first half of 1938, is an orchestral work in one movement. It was given its first performance by Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on November 5, 1938 in New York in a radio broadcast concert in which the composer's Adagio for...

. In 1945, he led the orchestra in recording sessions of the Grand Canyon Suite
Grand Canyon Suite
The Grand Canyon Suite is a suite for orchestra by Ferde Grofé, composed during the period from 1929 to 1931. It consists of five parts or movements, each an evocation in tone of a particular scene typical of the Grand Canyon...

by Ferde Grofé
Ferde Grofé
Ferde Grofé was a prominent American composer, arranger and pianist. During the 1920s and 1930s, he went by the name Ferdie Grofé.-Early life:...

 in Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 (supervised by Grofé) and An American in Paris
An American in Paris
An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin's best-known compositions.Gershwin composed the piece...

by George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

 in NBC's Studio 8-H. Both works had earlier been performed in broadcast concerts. He also conducted broadcast performances of Copland
Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers"...

's El Salón México
El Salón México
El Salón México is a symphonic composition in one movement by Aaron Copland, which uses Mexican folk music extensively.-Analysis and history:...

; Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects....

with soloists Earl Wild
Earl Wild
Royland Earl Wild was an American pianist widely recognized as a leading virtuoso of his generation. Harold C. Schonberg called him a "super-virtuoso in the Horowitz class". He was known as well for his transcriptions of classical music and jazz...

 and Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader; widely known as the "King of Swing".In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America...

 and Piano Concerto in F
Concerto in F (Gershwin)
Concerto in F is a composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and orchestra which is closer in form to a traditional concerto than the earlier jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue...

with pianist Oscar Levant
Oscar Levant
Oscar Levant was an American pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor. He was more famous for his mordant character and witticisms, on the radio and in movies and television, than for his music.-Life and career:...

; and music by other American composers, including marches of John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

. He even wrote his own orchestral arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

, which was incorporated into the NBC Symphony's performances of Verdi's Hymn of the Nations. (Earlier, while music director of the New York Philharmonic, he conducted music by Abram Chasins
Abram Chasins
Abram Chasins was an American composer, pianist, piano teacher, lecturer, musicologist, music broadcaster, radio executive and author....

, Bernard Wagenaar
Bernard Wagenaar
Bernard Wagenaar was a Dutch/American composer, conductor and violinist.Wagenaar, not related to the Dutch composer Johan Wagenaar, was born in Arnhem. He studied at Utrecht University before starting his career as a teacher and conductor in 1914. He moved to the USA in 1920, where he became a...

, and Howard Hanson
Howard Hanson
Howard Harold Hanson was an American composer, conductor, educator, music theorist, and champion of American classical music. As director for 40 years of the Eastman School of Music, he built a high-quality school and provided opportunities for commissioning and performing American music...

.)

In 1940, Toscanini took the orchestra on a "goodwill" tour of South America. Later that year, Toscanini had a disagreement with NBC management over their use of his musicians in other NBC broadcasts. This, among other reasons, resulted in a letter which Toscanini wrote on March 10, 1941 to RCA's David Sarnoff. He stated that he now wished "to withdraw from the militant scene of Art" and thus declined to sign a new contract for the up-coming winter season, but left the door open for an eventual return "if my state of mind, health and rest will be improved enough". So Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Anthony Stokowski was a British-born, naturalised American orchestral conductor, well known for his free-hand performing style that spurned the traditional baton and for obtaining a characteristically sumptuous sound from many of the great orchestras he conducted.In America, Stokowski...

 was engaged on a three-year contract instead and served as the NBC Symphony's music director from 1941 until 1944. Toscanini's state of mind soon underwent a change and he returned as Stokowski's co-conductor for the latter's second and third seasons resuming full control in 1944.

One of the more remarkable broadcasts was in July 1942, when Toscanini conducted the American premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

's Symphony No. 7
Symphony No. 7 (Shostakovich)
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 dedicated to the city of Leningrad was completed on 27 December 1941. In its time, the symphony was extremely popular in both Russia and the West as a symbol of resistance and defiance to Nazi totalitarianism and militarism...

. Due to World War II, the score was microfilmed in the Soviet Union and brought by courier to the United States. Stokowski had previously given the US premieres of Shostakovich's 1st, 3rd and 6th Symphonies in Philadelphia, and in December 1941 urged NBC to obtain the score of the 7th as he wanted to conduct its premiere as well. But Toscanini coveted this for himself and there were a number of remarkable letters between the two conductors (reproduced by Harvey Sachs in his biography) before Stokowski agreed to let Toscanini have the privilege of conducting the first performance. Unfortunately for New York listeners, a major thunderstorm virtually obliterated the NBC radio signals there, but the performance was heard elsewhere and preserved on transcription discs. It was later issued by RCA Victor in the 1967 centennial boxed set tribute to Toscanini, which included a number of NBC broadcasts never released on discs. In Testimony
Testimony (book)
Testimony is a book that was published in October 1979 by the Russian musicologist Solomon Volkov. He claimed that it was the memoirs of the composer Dmitri Shostakovich...

Shostakovich himself expressed a dislike for the performance, after he heard a recording of the broadcast. In Toscanini's later years the conductor expressed dislike for the work and amazement that he had actually conducted it.

In the summer of 1950, Toscanini led the orchestra on an extensive transcontinental tour. It was during that tour that the well-known photograph of Toscanini riding the ski lift at Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley is a resort city in Blaine County in the central part of the U.S. state of Idaho, adjacent to the city of Ketchum, lying within the greater Wood River valley. Tourists from around the world enjoy its skiing, hiking, ice skating, trail riding, tennis, and cycling. The population was 1,427...

 was taken. Toscanini and the musicians traveled on a special train chartered by NBC.

The NBC concerts continued in Studio 8-H until the fall of 1950. They were then held in Carnegie Hall, where many of the orchestra's recording sessions had been held, due to the dry acoustics of Studio 8-H. The final broadcast performance, an all-Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

 program, took place on April 4, 1954, in Carnegie Hall. During this concert Toscanini suffered a memory lapse reportedly caused by a transient ischemic attack
Transient ischemic attack
A transient ischemic attack is a transient episode of neurologic dysfunction caused by ischemia – either focal brain, spinal cord or retinal – without acute infarction...

, although some have attributed the lapse to having been secretly informed that NBC intended to end the broadcasts and disband the NBC orchestra. He never conducted live in public again. That June, he participated in his final recording sessions, remaking portions of two Verdi operas so they could be commercially released. Toscanini was 87 years old when he retired. After his retirement, the NBC Symphony was reorganized as the Symphony of the Air, making regular performances and recordings, until it was disbanded in 1963.

On radio, he conducted seven complete operas, including La bohème
La bohème
La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

, La traviata
La traviata
La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La dame aux Camélias , a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils. The title La traviata means literally The Fallen Woman, or perhaps more figuratively, The Woman...

, and Otello
Otello
Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on February 5, 1887....

, all of which were eventually released on records and CD, thus enabling the modern listening public to have at least some idea of what an opera conducted by Toscanini sounded like.

Last years

With the help of his son Walter, Toscanini spent his remaining years editing tapes and transcriptions of his performances with the NBC Symphony. The "approved" recordings were issued by RCA Victor, which also has issued his recordings with the La Scala Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. His recordings with the BBC Symphony Orchestra
BBC Symphony Orchestra
The BBC Symphony Orchestra is the principal broadcast orchestra of the British Broadcasting Corporation and one of the leading orchestras in Britain.-History:...

 (1937–39) and the Philharmonia Orchestra
Philharmonia Orchestra
The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the leading orchestras in Great Britain, based in London. Since 1995, it has been based in the Royal Festival Hall. In Britain it is also the resident orchestra at De Montfort Hall, Leicester and the Corn Exchange, Bedford, as well as The Anvil, Basingstoke...

 (1952) were issued by EMI. Various companies have issued recordings on compact disc
Compact Disc
The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

s of a number of broadcasts and concerts that he did not officially approve. Among these are stereophonic recordings of his last two NBC broadcast concerts.

Sachs and other biographers have documented the numerous conductors, singers, and musicians who visited Toscanini during his retirement. He was a big fan of early television, especially boxing and wrestling telecasts, as well as comedy programs.

Toscanini died on January 16, 1957 at the age of 89 at his home in the Riverdale
Riverdale, Bronx
Riverdale is an affluent residential neighborhood in the northwest portion of the Bronx in New York City. Riverdale contains the northernmost point in New York City.-History:...

 section of the Bronx
The Bronx
The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is also known as Bronx County, the last of the 62 counties of New York State to be incorporated...

 in New York City. His body was returned to Italy and was buried in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan. His epitaph is taken from one account of his remarks concluding the 1926 premiere of Puccini
Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

's unfinished Turandot
Turandot
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.Though Puccini's first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller's adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot...

: "Qui finisce l'opera, perché a questo punto il maestro è morto" ("Here the opera ends, because at this point the maestro died").
During his funeral service, Leyla Gencer
Leyla Gencer
Leyla Gencer, or Ayşe Leyla Çeyrekgil was a world-renowned Turkish operatic soprano.Known as "La Diva Turca" and "La Regina" in the opera world, Gencer was a notable bel canto soprano who spent most of her career in Italy, from the early 1950s through the mid-1980s, and had a repertoire...

 sang an aria from Verdi's Requiem
Requiem (Verdi)
The Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi is a musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass for four soloists, double choir and orchestra. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist much admired by Verdi. The first performance in San Marco in Milan on 22 May...

.

In his will, he left his baton to his protégée Herva Nelli
Herva Nelli
Herva Nelli was an Italian-born operatic soprano.-Biography:Named after the French socialist Gustave Hervé, she was born in Florence, where she attended a convent school...

, who sang in the broadcasts of Otello, Aïda, Falstaff, the Verdi Requiem, and Un ballo in maschera.

Toscanini was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording."...

 in 1987.

Personal life

Toscanini married Carla De Martini on June 21, 1897, when she was not yet 20 years old. Their first child, Walter, was born on March 19, 1898. A daughter, Wally, was born on January 16, 1900. Carla gave birth to another boy, Giorgio, in September 1901, but he died of diphtheria
Diphtheria
Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium. It is characterized by sore throat, low fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity...

 on June 10, 1906. Then, that same year, Carla gave birth to their second daughter, Wanda
Wanda Toscanini
Wanda Giorgina Toscanini Horowitz was the daughter of the conductor Arturo Toscanini and the wife of pianist Vladimir Horowitz....

.

Toscanini worked with many great singers and musicians throughout his career, but few impressed him as much as Vladimir Horowitz
Vladimir Horowitz
Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz    was a Russian-American classical virtuoso pianist and minor composer. His technique and use of tone color and the excitement of his playing were legendary. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.-Life and early...

. They worked together a number of times and even recorded Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

' second piano concerto
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Brahms)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms is a composition for solo piano with orchestral accompaniment. It is separated by a gap of 22 years from the composer's first piano concerto. Brahms began work on the piece in 1878 and completed it in 1881 while in Pressbaum near...

 and Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

's first piano concerto
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Tchaikovsky)
The Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888. The first version received heavy criticism from Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's desired pianist....

 with the NBC Symphony for RCA. Horowitz also became close to Toscanini and his family. In 1933, Wanda Toscanini married Horowitz, with the conductor's blessings and warnings. It was Wanda's daughter, Sonia, who was once photographed by Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

playing with the conductor.

During World War II, Toscanini lived in Wave Hill
Wave Hill (New York)
Wave Hill is a 28 acre estate, consisting of public gardens and a cultural center, in the Hudson Hill section of the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City. It is situated on the slopes overlooking the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. Listed on the National Register of...

, a historic home in Riverdale
Riverdale, Bronx
Riverdale is an affluent residential neighborhood in the northwest portion of the Bronx in New York City. Riverdale contains the northernmost point in New York City.-History:...

.

Despite the reported infidelities revealed in Toscanini's letters documented by Harvey Sachs, he remained married to Carla until she died on June 23, 1951.

Innovations

At La Scala, which had what was then the most modern stage lighting system installed in 1901 and an orchestral pit installed in 1907, Toscanini pushed through reforms in the performance of opera. He insisted on dimming the house-lights during performances. As his biographer Harvey Sachs
Harvey Sachs
Harvey Sachs, is an American-Canadian-Swiss writer who has written many books on musical subjects.His books include the standard biography of and a book of essays on the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, plus an edited collection of Toscanini's letters.* Toscanini, Philadelphia & New York: J. B...

 wrote: "He believed that a performance could not be artistically successful unless unity of intention was first established among all the components: singers, orchestra, chorus, staging, sets, and costumes."

Toscanini favored the traditional orchestral seating plan with the first violins and cellos on the left, the violas on the near right, and the second violins on the far right.

Premieres

Toscanini conducted the world premieres of many operas, four of which have become part of the standard operatic repertoire: Pagliacci
Pagliacci
Pagliacci , sometimes incorrectly rendered with a definite article as I Pagliacci, is an opera consisting of a prologue and two acts written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It recounts the tragedy of a jealous husband in a commedia dell'arte troupe...

, La bohème
La bohème
La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

, La fanciulla del West
La fanciulla del West
La fanciulla del West is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini, based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by the American author David Belasco. Its highly-publicised premiere occurred in New York City in 1910...

and Turandot
Turandot
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.Though Puccini's first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller's adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot...

; he took an active role in Alfano
Franco Alfano
Franco Alfano was an Italian composer and pianist. Best known today for his opera Risurrezione and above all for having completed Puccini's opera Turandot in 1926. He had considerable success with several of his own works during his lifetime.- Biography :He was born in Posillipo, Naples...

's completion of Puccini's Turandot. He also conducted the first Italian performances of Siegfried
Siegfried (opera)
Siegfried is the third of the four operas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring...

, Götterdämmerung
Götterdämmerung
is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen...

, Salome
Salome (opera)
Salome is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer....

, Pelléas et Mélisande
Pelléas et Mélisande (opera)
Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. The French libretto was adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck's Symbolist play Pelléas et Mélisande...

, and Euryanthe
Euryanthe
Euryanthe is a German "grand, heroic, romantic" opera by Carl Maria von Weber, first performed at the Theater am Kärntnertor, Vienna on 25 October 1823...

, as well as the South American premieres of Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting...

and Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Puccini based his opera in part on the short story "Madame Butterfly" by John Luther Long, which was dramatized by David Belasco...

and the North American premiere of Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov (opera)
Boris Godunov is an opera by Modest Mussorgsky . The work was composed between 1868 and 1873 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is Mussorgsky's only completed opera and is considered his masterpiece. Its subjects are the Russian ruler Boris Godunov, who reigned as Tsar during the Time of Troubles,...

. He also conducted the world premiere of Samuel Barber
Samuel Barber
Samuel Osborne Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music...

's most famous work, the Adagio for Strings
Adagio for Strings
Adagio for Strings is a work by Samuel Barber, arranged for string orchestra from the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11. Barber finished the arrangement in 1936, the same year as he wrote the quartet...

.

Operatic premieres

  • Edmea (revised version) by Alfredo Catalani
    Alfredo Catalani
    Alfredo Catalani was an Italian operatic composer. He is best remembered for his operas Loreley and La Wally...

     – Turin
    Turin
    Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

    , November 4, 1886
  • Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo
    Ruggero Leoncavallo
    Ruggero Leoncavallo was an Italian opera composer. His two-act work Pagliacci remains one of the most popular works in the repertory, appearing as number 20 on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.-Biography:...

     – Milan
    Milan
    Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

    , May 21, 1892
  • Guglielmo Swarten by Gnaga – Rome, November 15, 1892
  • Savitri by Natale Canti – Bologna, December 1, 1894
  • Emma Liona by Antonio Lozzi – Venice, May 24, 1895
  • La bohème by Giacomo Puccini
    Giacomo Puccini
    Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

     – Turin
    Turin
    Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

    , February 1, 1896
  • Forza d'Amore by Arturo Buzzi-Peccia
    Arturo Buzzi-Peccia
    Arturo Buzzi-Peccia was an Italian singing instructor and song composer whose career is very poorly documented....

     – Turin, March 6, 1897
  • La Camargo by Enrico De Leva – Turin, March 2, 1898
  • Anton by Cesare Galeotii – Milan, December 17, 1900
  • Zaza by Leoncavallo – Milan, November 10, 1900
  • Le Maschere by Pietro Mascagni
    Pietro Mascagni
    Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni was an Italian composer most noted for his operas. His 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria rusticana caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music...

     – Milan, January 17, 1901
  • Mosè by Don Lorenzo Perosi – Milan, November 16, 1901
  • Germania by Alberto Franchetti
    Alberto Franchetti
    Alberto Franchetti was an Italian opera composer.-Biography:Alberto Franchetti was born in Turin, a Jewish nobleman of independent means. He studied first in Venice, then in Dresden under Felix Draeseke, and finally at the Munich Conservatory under Josef Rheinberger. His first major success...

     – Milan, March 11, 1902
  • Oceana by Antonio Smareglia – Milan, January 22, 1903
  • Cassandra by Vittorio Gnecchi – Bologna, December 5, 1905
  • Gloria by Francesco Cilea
    Francesco Cilea
    Francesco Cilea was an Italian composer. Today he is particularly known for his operas L'arlesiana and Adriana Lecouvreur.-Biography:...

     – Milan, April 15, 1907
  • La fanciulla del West by Puccini – New York, December 10, 1910
  • Madame Sans-Gène by Umberto Giordano
    Umberto Giordano
    Umberto Menotti Maria Giordano was an Italian composer, mainly of operas.He was born in Foggia in Puglia, southern Italy, and studied under Paolo Serrao at the Conservatoire of Naples...

     – New York, January 25, 1915
  • Debora e Jaele by Ildebrando Pizzetti
    Ildebrando Pizzetti
    Ildebrando Pizzetti was an Italian composer of classical music.- Biography :Pizzetti was born in Parma in 1880. He was part of the "Generation of 1880" along with Ottorino Respighi and Gian Francesco Malipiero. They were among the first Italian composers in some time whose primary contributions...

     – Milan, December 16, 1922
  • Nerone by Arrigo Boito
    Arrigo Boito
    Arrigo Boito , aka Enrico Giuseppe Giovanni Boito, pseudonym Tobia Gorrio, was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff, and his own opera Mefistofele...

     (completed by Toscanini and Vincenzo Tommasini
    Vincenzo Tommasini
    Vincenzo Tommasini was an Italian composer.Born in Rome, Tommasini studied philology and the Greek language at the University of Rome, at the same time pursuing equally intensive studies in music at the Academy of St. Cecilia. In 1902 he traveled extensively throughout Europe; during this time he...

    ) – Milan, May 1, 1924
  • La Cena delle Beffe by Giordano – Milan, December 20, 1924
  • I Cavalieri di Ekebu by Riccardo Zandonai – Milan, March 7, 1925
  • Turandot
    Turandot
    Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.Though Puccini's first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller's adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot...

    by Puccini – Milan, April 25, 1926
  • Fra Gherado by Pizzetti – Milan, May 16, 1928
  • Il Re
    Il re
    Il re is a novella or opera in one act and three scenes by composer Umberto Giordano to an Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano. The opera premiered at La Scala in Milan on 12 January 1929.-Performance history:...

    by Giordano – Milan, January 12, 1929

Orchestral premieres

  • Adagio for Strings
    Adagio for Strings
    Adagio for Strings is a work by Samuel Barber, arranged for string orchestra from the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11. Barber finished the arrangement in 1936, the same year as he wrote the quartet...

    and First Essay for Orchestra by Samuel Barber
    Samuel Barber
    Samuel Osborne Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music...

     – NBC Symphony Orchestra
    NBC Symphony Orchestra
    The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company especially for conductor Arturo Toscanini...

    , New York, November 5, 1938
  • Western Suite by Elie Siegmeister
    Elie Siegmeister
    Elie Siegmeister was an American composer, educator and author.His varied musical output showed his concern with the development of an authentic American musical vocabulary...

     – NBC Symphony Orchestra, New York, November 1945.

Overview

Toscanini made his first recordings in December, 1920 with the La Scala Orchestra in the Trinity Church studio of the Victor Talking Machine Company
Victor Talking Machine Company
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey....

 in Camden, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey
The city of Camden is the county seat of Camden County, New Jersey. It is located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 77,344...

 and his last with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in June, 1954 in Carnegie Hall. His entire catalog of commercial recordings was issued by RCA Victor, save for two single-sided recordings for Brunswick in 1926 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and a series of excellent recordings with the BBC Symphony Orchestra
BBC Symphony Orchestra
The BBC Symphony Orchestra is the principal broadcast orchestra of the British Broadcasting Corporation and one of the leading orchestras in Britain.-History:...

 from 1937 to 1939 for EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

's HMV label (some issued in the USA by RCA, others released only recently by EMI and Testament). Besides the 1926 recordings with the New York Philharmonic (his first with the electrical process), Toscanini made a series of recordings with them for Victor, in Carnegie Hall, in 1929 and 1936. He also recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. One of the "Big Five" American orchestras, it was founded in 1900...

 for Victor in Philadelphia's Academy of Music in 1941 and 1942. All of the RCA Victor recordings have been digitally re-mastered and released on CD. There are also recorded concerts with various European orchestras, especially with La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

 Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra
Philharmonia Orchestra
The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the leading orchestras in Great Britain, based in London. Since 1995, it has been based in the Royal Festival Hall. In Britain it is also the resident orchestra at De Montfort Hall, Leicester and the Corn Exchange, Bedford, as well as The Anvil, Basingstoke...

.

Hearing Toscanini

In some of his recordings, Toscanini can be heard singing or humming. This is especially true in RCA's recording of La bohème
La bohème
La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

, recorded during broadcast concerts in NBC Studio 8-H in 1946. Tenor Jan Peerce
Jan Peerce
Jan Peerce was an American operatic tenor. Peerce was an accomplished performer on the operatic and Broadway concert stages, in solo recitals, and as a recording artist. He is the father of film director Larry Peerce....

 later said that Toscanini's deep involvement in the performances helped him to achieve the necessary emotions, especially in the final moments of the opera when the beloved Mimi (played by Licia Albanese
Licia Albanese
Licia Albanese is an Italian-born American operatic soprano. Noted especially for her portrayals of the lyric heroines of Verdi and Puccini, Albanese was a leading artist with the Metropolitan Opera of New York from 1940 to 1966...

) is dying. During the "Tuba mirum" section of the January 1951 live recording of Verdi's Requiem
Requiem (Verdi)
The Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi is a musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass for four soloists, double choir and orchestra. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist much admired by Verdi. The first performance in San Marco in Milan on 22 May...

, Toscanini can be heard on the disc shouting as the brass blares. In his recording of Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

' Death and Transfiguration, Toscanini sighed loudly near the end of the music; RCA Victor left this in the released recording.

Specialties

He was especially famous for his performances of Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

, Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

, Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

, Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

, Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

 and his own compatriots Rossini, Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

, Boito
Arrigo Boito
Arrigo Boito , aka Enrico Giuseppe Giovanni Boito, pseudonym Tobia Gorrio, was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff, and his own opera Mefistofele...

 and Puccini
Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

. He made many recordings, especially towards the end of his career, which are still in print. In addition, there are many recordings available of his broadcast performances, as well as his remarkable rehearsals with the NBC Symphony.

Charles O'Connell on Toscanini

Charles O'Connell, who produced many of Toscanini's RCA Victor recordings in the 1930s and 1940s, said that RCA quickly decided to record the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, whenever possible, after being disappointed with the dull-sounding early recordings in Studio 8-H in 1938 and 1939. (Nevertheless, there were a few recording sessions in Studio 8-H as late as June 1950, probably because of improvements to the acoustics in 1939.) O'Connell, and others, often complained that Toscanini was little interested in recording and, as Harvey Sachs wrote, Toscanini was frequently disappointed that the microphones failed to pick up everything he heard during the recording sessions. O'Connell even complained of Toscanini's failure to cooperate with RCA during the sessions. Toscanini himself was often disappointed that the 78-rpm discs failed to fully capture all of the instruments in the orchestra; those fortunate to attend Toscanini's concerts later said the NBC string section was especially outstanding.

Philadelphia Orchestra recordings

O'Connell also extensively documented RCA's technical problems with the Philadelphia Orchestra recordings of 1941/42, which required extensive electronic editing before they could be released (well after Toscanini's death, beginning in 1963, with the rest following in the 1970s). Harvey Sachs also recounts that the masters were damaged, possibly due to the use of somewhat inferior materials imposed by wartime restrictions. Unfortunately, a Musicians Union recording ban from 1942 to 1944 prevented immediate retakes; by the time the ban ended, the Philadelphia Orchestra had left RCA Victor for Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

 and RCA apparently was hesitant to promote the orchestra any further. Eventually, Toscanini recorded all of the same music with the NBC Symphony. In 1968, the Philadelphia Orchestra returned to RCA and the company was more favorable toward issuing all of the discs. As for the historic recordings, even on the CD versions, first released in 1991, some of the sides have considerable surface noise and some distortion, especially during the louder passages. The best sound of the recordings is the Schubert Symphony No. 9 (The "Great")
Symphony No. 9 (Schubert)
The Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944, known as the Great , is the final symphony completed by Franz Schubert. Nicknamed The Great C major originally to distinguish it from his Symphony No...

, which had been restored by RCA first (in 1963) and released on LP. The rest of the recordings were not issued until 1977 and, as Sachs noted, by that time some of the masters may have deteriorated further. Nevertheless, despite the occasional problems, the entire set is an impressive document of Toscanini's collaboration with the Philadelphia musicians. A 2006 RCA reissue, makes more use of digital processing in an attempt to produce better sound. Longtime Philadelphia director Eugene Ormandy expressed his appreciation for what Toscanini achieved with the orchestra.

High fidelity and stereo

In the late 1940s when magnetic tape
Magnetic tape
Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic. It was developed in Germany, based on magnetic wire recording. Devices that record and play back audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders...

 replaced direct wax disc recording and high fidelity long playing records were introduced, the conductor said he was much happier making recordings. Sachs wrote that an Italian journalist, Raffaele Calzini, said Toscanini told him, "My son Walter sent me the test pressing of the [Beethoven] Ninth
Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...

 from America; I want to hear and check how it came out, and possibly to correct it. These long-playing records often make me happy."

NBC had recorded all of Toscanini's broadcast performances on transcription discs from the start of the broadcasts in 1937. The use of high fidelity sound film was common for recording sessions, as early as 1941. By 1948, when RCA began using magnetic tape on a regular basis, high fidelity became the norm for Toscanini's, and all other commercial recordings. With RCA's experiments in stereo in early 1954, stereo tapes were made of Toscanini's final two broadcast concerts, as well as the rehearsals, as documented by Samuel Antek in This Was Toscanini. The microphones were placed relatively close to the orchestra and with limited separation, so the stereo effects were not as dramatic as the commercial "Living Stereo" recordings which RCA Victor began to make about the same time with the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is an orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at the Tanglewood Music Center...

 and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1891, the Symphony makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and plays a summer season at the Ravinia Festival...

. The two Toscanini concerts recorded in stereo have been issued on LP and CD and have also been offered for download in digitally enhanced sound by Pristine Classical, a company which produces digitally enhanced versions of older classical recordings.

One more example of Toscanini and the NBC Symphony in stereo now also exists. It is of the January 27, 1951 concert devoted to the Verdi Requiem, previously recorded and released in high-fidelity monophonic sound by RCA Victor. Recently a separate recording of the same performance, using a different microphone in a different location, was acquired by Pristine Audio
Pristine Audio
Pristine Audio was founded in 2002 by Andrew Rose, then a BBC Radio sound engineer, as an audio transfer and restoration business.Following its relocation from the United Kingdom to France in 2004, the company began to concentrate on the restoration and remastering of historic classical music...

. Using modern digital technology the company constructed a stereophonic version of the performance from the two recordings which it made available in 2009. The company calls this an example of "accidental stereo".

Notable recordings

Among his most critically acclaimed recordings are the following (with the NBC Symphony
NBC Symphony Orchestra
The NBC Symphony Orchestra was a radio orchestra established by David Sarnoff of the National Broadcasting Company especially for conductor Arturo Toscanini...

 unless otherwise shown):

(Many of these were never released officially during Toscanini's lifetime)
  • Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

    , Symphony No. 3
    Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)
    Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major , also known as the Eroica , is a landmark musical work marking the full arrival of the composer's "middle-period," a series of unprecedented large scale works of emotional depth and structural rigor.The symphony is widely regarded as a mature...

     "Eroica" (1953; also 1939 and 1949 recordings)
  • Beethoven, Symphony No. 6
    Symphony No. 6 (Beethoven)
    Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the Pastoral Symphony , is a symphony composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, and was completed in 1808...

     "Pastoral" (1952)
  • Beethoven, Symphony No. 7
    Symphony No. 7 (Beethoven)
    Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, in 1811, was the seventh of his nine symphonies. He worked on it while staying in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice in the hope of improving his health. It was completed in 1812, and was dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries.At its debut,...

     (1936, Philharmonic-Symphony of New York
    New York Philharmonic
    The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

    )
  • Beethoven, Symphony No. 9
    Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
    The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...

     (1952 and 1938) (only the 1952 recording was released officially)
  • Beethoven, Missa Solemnis
    Missa Solemnis (Beethoven)
    The Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123 was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven from 1819-1823. It was first performed on April 7, 1824 in St. Petersburg, under the auspices of Beethoven's patron Prince Nikolai Galitzin; an incomplete performance was given in Vienna on 7 May 1824, when the Kyrie,...

    , (1940 NBC broadcast)
  • Berlioz
    Hector Berlioz
    Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

    , Roméo et Juliette
    Roméo et Juliette (symphony)
    Roméo et Juliette is a "symphonie dramatique", a large-scale choral symphony by French composer Hector Berlioz, which was first performed on 24 November 1839. The libretto was written by Émile Deschamps and the completed work was assigned the catalogue numbers Op. 17 and H.79...

    (1947 NBC broadcast)
  • Brahms
    Johannes Brahms
    Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

    , Symphony No. 1
    Symphony No. 1 (Brahms)
    The Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, is a symphony written by Johannes Brahms. Brahms spent at least fourteen years completing this work, whose sketches date from 1854. Brahms himself declared that the symphony, from sketches to finishing touches, took 21 years, from 1855 to 1876...

     (1940)
  • Brahms, Symphony No. 2
    Symphony No. 2 (Brahms)
    The Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, was composed by Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1877 during a visit to Pörtschach am Wörthersee, a town in the Austrian province of Carinthia. Its composition was brief in comparison with the fifteen years it took Brahms to complete his First Symphony...

     (1952 and February, 1948 broadcast)
  • Brahms, Symphony No. 4
    Symphony No. 4 (Brahms)
    The Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms is the last of his symphonies. Brahms began working on the piece in 1884, just a year after completing his Symphony No...

     (1951 and 1948 broadcast)
  • Brahms
    Johannes Brahms
    Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

    , Four Symphonies, Tragic Overture and Haydn Variations, 1952, Philharmonia Orchestra
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the leading orchestras in Great Britain, based in London. Since 1995, it has been based in the Royal Festival Hall. In Britain it is also the resident orchestra at De Montfort Hall, Leicester and the Corn Exchange, Bedford, as well as The Anvil, Basingstoke...

    , London (his only appearances with that orchestra, produced by Walter Legge
    Walter Legge
    Harry Walter Legge was an influential English classical record producer, most notably for EMI. His recordings include many sets later regarded as classics and reissued by EMI as "Great Recordings of the Century". He worked in the recording industry from 1927, combining this with the post of junior...

    ).
  • Debussy
    Claude Debussy
    Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

    , La mer
    La Mer (Debussy)
    La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre , or simply La mer , is an orchestral composition by the French composer Claude Debussy. It was started in 1903 in France and completed in 1905 on the English Channel coast in Eastbourne...

    (1950 and 1940 broadcast)
  • Dvořák
    Antonín Dvorák
    Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

    , Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"
    Symphony No. 9 (Dvorák)
    The Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World", Op. 95, B. 178 , popularly known as the New World Symphony, was composed by Antonín Dvořák in 1893 during his visit to the United States from 1892 to 1895. It is by far his most popular symphony, and one of the most popular in the modern repertoire...

     (1953)
  • Mendelssohn, Incidental Music from A Midsummer Night's Dream, (NBC 1947, studio and broadcast versions; Philadelphia 1941); Scherzo, New York Philharmonic, (1929)
  • Mendelssohn
    Felix Mendelssohn
    Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

    , Symphony No. 4 "Italian"
    Symphony No. 4 (Mendelssohn)
    The Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, commonly known as the Italian, is an orchestral symphony written by German composer Felix Mendelssohn ....

    , (1954, exists in two versions: one as approved by Toscanini with excerpts from the rehearsals, and the unedited broadcast)
  • Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 5 "Reformation"
    Symphony No. 5 (Mendelssohn)
    The Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor, Op. 107, called the Reformation Symphony, was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1830 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. This Confession was a key document of Lutheranism and its Presentation to Emperor Charles V in...

    , (1953)
  • Puccini
    Giacomo Puccini
    Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

    , La bohème
    La bohème
    La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

    (1946 broadcast)
  • Mozart
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

    , Die Zauberflöte (1937, Salzburg Festival
    Salzburg Festival
    The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

    ; poor sound)
  • Schubert
    Franz Schubert
    Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

    , Symphony No. 9
    Symphony No. 9 (Schubert)
    The Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944, known as the Great , is the final symphony completed by Franz Schubert. Nicknamed The Great C major originally to distinguish it from his Symphony No...

     (Philadelphia, 1941; NBC 1947 and 1953)
  • Tchaikovsky, Piano concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23
    Piano Concerto No. 1 (Tchaikovsky)
    The Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888. The first version received heavy criticism from Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's desired pianist....

    , Vladimir Horowitz and NBC Symphony, (live recording of April 25, 1943 War Bonds benefit concert at Carnegie Hall, first issued in 1959 on LP by RCA Victor)
  • Verdi
    Giuseppe Verdi
    Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

    , Requiem
    Requiem (Verdi)
    The Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi is a musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass for four soloists, double choir and orchestra. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist much admired by Verdi. The first performance in San Marco in Milan on 22 May...

    (1940 NBC broadcast; and 1951 studio recording)
  • Verdi, Un ballo in maschera
    Un ballo in maschera
    Un ballo in maschera , is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. The libretto is loosely based on an 1833 play, Gustave III, by French playwright Eugène Scribe who wrote about the historical assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden...

    (1954 NBC broadcast)
  • Verdi, Falstaff
    Falstaff (opera)
    Falstaff is an operatic commedia lirica in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's plays The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV. It was Verdi's last opera, written in the composer's ninth decade, and only the second of his 26 operas to be a comedy...

    (1937, Salzburg Festival
    Salzburg Festival
    The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

     with restored sound on the Andante label; 1950 NBC broadcast)
  • Verdi, Rigoletto
    Rigoletto
    Rigoletto is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. It was first performed at La Fenice in Venice on March 11, 1851...

    (Act IV only, 1944; from World War II Red Cross benefit concert held in Madison Square Garden
    Madison Square Garden
    Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG and known colloquially as The Garden, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the New York City borough of Manhattan and located at 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.Opened on February 11, 1968, it is the...

    , with the combined forces of the New York Philharmonic and the NBC Symphony; the entire concert, complete with an auctioning of one of Toscanini's batons, was released on an unofficial recording in 1995)
  • Verdi, Otello
    Otello
    Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on February 5, 1887....

    (1947 NBC broadcast)
  • Wagner
    Richard Wagner
    Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

    , Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
    Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
    Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is an opera in three acts, written and composed by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas still commonly performed today, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater in Munich, on June 21,...

    (1937, Salzburg Festival
    Salzburg Festival
    The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

    ; original Selenophone sound-on-film recording restored on Andante.)

Rarities

There are many pieces which Toscanini never recorded in the studio; among these, some of the most interesting surviving recordings (off-the-air) include:
  • Meyerbeer
    Giacomo Meyerbeer
    Giacomo Meyerbeer was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of "grand opera." At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.-Early years:He was born to a Jewish family in Tasdorf , near...

     Overture to Dinorah (1938, on Testament)
  • Stravinsky
    Igor Stravinsky
    Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

    , Suite from Petrushka
    Petrushka
    Petrouchka or Petrushka is a ballet with music by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, composed in 1910–11 and revised in 1947....

    (1940, on RCA Victor)
  • Mendelssohn
    Felix Mendelssohn
    Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

    , Symphony No. 3 "Scottish" (1941, on Testament)
  • Franz Schubert
    Franz Schubert
    Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

    , Symphony No. 2 (1940, on Testament)
  • Dmitri Shostakovich
    Dmitri Shostakovich
    Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

    , Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad" (1942, on RCA Victor)
  • Vasily Kalinnikov
    Vasily Kalinnikov
    Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov was a Russian composer of two symphonies, several additional orchestral works and numerous songs, all of them imbued with characteristics of folksong...

    , Symphony No. 1 (1943, on Testament)
  • Schumann
    Robert Schumann
    Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

    , Symphony No. 2 (1946, on Testament)
  • Boito
    Arrigo Boito
    Arrigo Boito , aka Enrico Giuseppe Giovanni Boito, pseudonym Tobia Gorrio, was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff, and his own opera Mefistofele...

    , scenes from Mefistofele
    Mefistofele
    Mefistofele is an opera in a prologue, four acts and an epilogue, the only completed opera by the Italian composer-librettist Arrigo Boito.-Composition history:...

    and Nerone
    Nerone (Boito)
    Nerone is an opera in four acts composed by Arrigo Boito, to a libretto in Italian written by the composer. The work is a series of scenes from Imperial Rome at the time of Emperor Nero depicting tensions between the Imperial religion and Christianity, and ends with the Great Fire of Rome...

    , La Scala, Milan, 1948 – Boito
    Arrigo Boito
    Arrigo Boito , aka Enrico Giuseppe Giovanni Boito, pseudonym Tobia Gorrio, was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist and composer, best known today for his libretti, especially those for Giuseppe Verdi's operas Otello and Falstaff, and his own opera Mefistofele...

     Memorial Concert.
  • Mussorgsky
    Modest Mussorgsky
    Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as 'The Five'. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period...

    , Prelude to Khovanshchina
    Khovanshchina
    Khovanshchina is an opera in five acts by Modest Mussorgsky. The work was written between 1872 and 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The composer wrote the libretto based on historical sources...

    (1953)

Rehearsals and broadcasts

Many hundreds of hours of Toscanini's rehearsals were recorded. Some of these have circulated in limited edition recordings. Many broadcast recordings with orchestras other than the NBC have also survived, including: The New York Philharmonic from 1933–36, 1942, and 1945; The BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1935–1939; The Lucerne Festival Orchestra; and broadcasts from the Salzburg Festival in the late 1930s. Documents of Toscanini's guest appearances with the La Scala
La Scala
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...

 Orchestra from 1946 until 1952 include a live recording of Verdi's Requiem with the young Renata Tebaldi
Renata Tebaldi
Renata Tebaldi was an Italian lirico-spinto soprano popular in the post-war period...

. Toscanini's ten NBC Symphony telecasts from 1948 until 1952 were preserved in kinescope
Kinescope
Kinescope , shortened to kine , also known as telerecording in Britain, is a recording of a television program made by filming the picture from a video monitor...

 films of the live broadcasts. These films, issued by RCA on VHS tape and laser disc and on DVD by Testament, provide unique video documentation of the passionate yet restrained podium technique for which he was well known.

Recording guide

A guide to Toscanini's recording career can be found in Mortimer H. Frank's "From the Pit to the Podium: Toscanini in America" in International Classical Record Collector (1998, 15 8-21) and Christopher Dyment's "Toscanini's European Inheritance" in International Classical Record Collector (1998, 15 22-8). Frank and Dyment also discuss Maestro Toscanini's performance history in the 50th anniversary issue of Classic Record Collector (2006, 47) Frank with 'Toscanini – Myth and Reality' (10–14) and Dyment 'A Whirlwind in London' (15–21) This issue also contains interviews with people who performed with Toscanini – Jon Tolansky 'Licia Albanese – Maestro and Me' (22-6) and 'A Mesmerising Beat: John Tolansky talks to some of those who worked with Arturo Toscanini, to discover some of the secrets of his hold over singers, orchestras and audiences.' (34-7). There is also a feature article on Toscanini's interpretation of Brahms's First Symphony – Norman C. Nelson, 'First Among Equals [...] Toscanini's interpretation of Brahms's First Symphony in the context of others' (28–33)

The Arturo Toscanini Society

In 1969, Clyde J. Key acted on a dream he had of meeting Toscanini by starting the Arturo Toscanini Society to release a number of "unapproved" live performances by Toscanini. As Time Magazine reported, Key scoured the U.S. and Europe for off-the-air transcriptions of Toscanini broadcasts, acquiring almost 5,000 transcriptions (all transferred to tape) of previously unreleased material—a complete catalogue of broadcasts by the Maestro between 1933 and 1954. It included about 50 concerts that were never broadcast, but which were recorded surreptitiously by engineers supposedly testing their equipment.

A private, nonprofit club based in Dumas, Texas, it offered members five or six LPs annually for a $25-a-year membership fee. Key's first package offering included Brahms' German Requiem, Haydn's Symphonies Nos. 88 and 104, and Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

' Ein Heldenleben
Ein Heldenleben
Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40, is a tone poem by Richard Strauss. The work was completed in 1898, and heralds the composer's more mature period in this genre...

, all NBC Symphony broadcasts dating from the late 1930s or early 1940s. In 1970, the Society releases included Sibelius' Symphony No. 4, Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

's "Scottish" Symphony, dating from the same NBC period; and a Rossini-Verdi-Puccini LP emanating from the post-War reopening of La Scala on May 11, 1946 with the Maestro conducting. That same year it released a Beethoven bicentennial set that included the 1935 Missa Solemnis with the Philharmonic and LPs of the 1948 televised concert of the ninth symphony taken from an FM radio transcription, complete with Ben Grauer's comments. (In the early 1990s, the kinescopes of these and the other televised concerts were released by RCA with soundtracks dubbed in from the NBC radio transcriptions; in 2006, they were re-released by Testament on DVD.)

Additional releases included a number of Beethoven symphonies recorded with the New York Philharmonic during the 1930s, a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27 on Feb. 20, 1936, at which Rudolf Serkin
Rudolf Serkin
Rudolf Serkin , was a Bohemian-born pianist.-Life and early career:Serkin was born in Eger, Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire to a Russian-Jewish family....

 made his New York debut, and one of the most celebrated underground Toscanini recordings of all, the legendary 1940 version of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis
Missa Solemnis (Beethoven)
The Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123 was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven from 1819-1823. It was first performed on April 7, 1824 in St. Petersburg, under the auspices of Beethoven's patron Prince Nikolai Galitzin; an incomplete performance was given in Vienna on 7 May 1824, when the Kyrie,...

, which has better soloists (Zinka Milanov, Jussi Bjoerling, both in their prime) and a more powerful style than the 1953 recording now available on RCA/BMG, although the microphone placement was kinder to the soloists in 1953.

Because the Arturo Toscanini Society was nonprofit, Key said he believed he had successfully bypassed both copyright restrictions and the maze of contractual ties between RCA and the Maestro's family. However, RCA's attorneys were soon looking into the matter to see if they agreed. As long as it stayed small, the Society appeared to offer little real competition to RCA. But classical-LP profits were low enough even in 1970, and piracy by fly-by-night firms so prevalent within the industry (an estimated $100 million in tape sales for 1969 alone), that even a benevolent buccaneer outfit like the Arturo Toscanini Society had to be looked at twice before it could be tolerated.

Magazine and newspaper reports subsequently detailed legal action taken against Key and the Society, presumably after some of the LPs began to appear in retail stores. Toscanini fans and record collectors were dismayed because, although Toscanini had not approved the release of these performances in every case, many of them were found to be further proof of the greatness of the Maestro's musical talents. One outstanding example of a remarkable performance not approved by the Maestro was his December 1948 NBC broadcast of Dvořák
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

's Symphonic Variations, released on an LP by the Society. (A kinescope of the same performance, from the television simulcast, has been released on VHS and laser disc by RCA/BMG and on DVD by Testament.) There was speculation that, the Toscanini family itself, prodded by his daughter Wanda, sought to defend the Maestro's original decisions, made mostly during his last years, on what should be released. Walter Toscanini later admitted that his father probably rejected performances that were okay. Whatever the real reasons, the Arturo Toscanini Society was forced to disband and cease releasing any further recordings.

Television

Arturo Toscanini was one of the first conductors to make extended appearances on live television
Live television
Live television refers to a television production broadcast in real-time, as events happen, in the present. From the early days of television until about 1958, live television was used heavily, except for filmed shows such as I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Video tape did not exist until 1957...

. Between 1948 and 1952, he conducted ten concerts telecast on NBC, including a two-part concert performance of Verdi's complete opera Aida starring Herva Nelli
Herva Nelli
Herva Nelli was an Italian-born operatic soprano.-Biography:Named after the French socialist Gustave Hervé, she was born in Florence, where she attended a convent school...

 and Richard Tucker
Richard Tucker
Richard Tucker was an American operatic tenor.-Early life:Tucker was born Rivn Ticker in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of Romanian immigrants from Bessarabia. His father, Shmul Ticker, and mother Fanya-Tsipa Ticker had already adopted the surname "Tucker" by the time their son entered first...

, and the first complete telecast of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...

. All of these were simulcast
Simulcast
Simulcast, shorthand for "simultaneous broadcast", refers to programs or events broadcast across more than one medium, or more than one service on the same medium, at the same time. For example, Absolute Radio is simulcast on both AM and on satellite radio, and the BBC's Prom concerts are often...

 on radio. These concerts were all shown only once during that four-year span, but they were preserved on kinescope
Kinescope
Kinescope , shortened to kine , also known as telerecording in Britain, is a recording of a television program made by filming the picture from a video monitor...

s.

The telecasts began on March 20, 1948, with an all-Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

 program, including the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin
Lohengrin (opera)
Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself...

; the overture and bacchanale from Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser (opera)
Tannhäuser is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two German legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg...

; "Forest Murmurs" from Siegfried
Siegfried (opera)
Siegfried is the third of the four operas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring...

; "Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey" from Götterdämmerung
Götterdämmerung
is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen...

; and "The Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walküre
Die Walküre
Die Walküre , WWV 86B, is the second of the four operas that form the cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner...

. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was telecast on April 3, 1948. On November 13, 1948, there was an all-Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

 program, including the Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra in A minor
Double Concerto (Brahms)
The Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102, by Johannes Brahms is a concerto for violin, cello and orchestra.- Origin of the work :The Double Concerto was Brahms' final work for orchestra. It was composed in the summer of 1887, and first performed on 18 October of that year in the Gürzenich in Köln,...

 (Mischa Mischakoff, violin; Frank Miller, cello); Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 52 (with two pianists and a small chorus); and Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G minor. On December 3, 1948, Toscanini conducted Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

's Symphony No. 40 in G minor
Symphony No. 40 (Mozart)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his Symphony No. 40 in G minor, KV. 550, in 1788. It is sometimes referred to as the "Great G minor symphony," to distinguish it from the "Little G minor symphony," No. 25. The two are the only minor key symphonies Mozart wrote....

; Dvořák
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

's Symphonic Variations; and Wagner's original overture to Tannhäuser.

There were two telecasts in 1949, both devoted to the performance of Verdi's Aida
Aida
Aida sometimes spelled Aïda, is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette...

from studio 8H. Acts I and II were telecast on March 26 and III and IV on April 2. Portions of the audio were rerecorded in June 1954 for the commercial release on LP records. As the video shows, the soloists were placed close to Toscanini, in front of the orchestra, while the robed members of the Robert Shaw Chorale
Robert Shaw Chorale
The Robert Shaw Chorale was a professional chorus founded in New York City in 1948 by Robert Shaw, a Californian who had been drafted out of college a decade earlier by Fred Waring to conduct his Glee Club in radio broadcasts...

 were on risers behind the orchestra.

There were no telecasts in 1950, but they resumed from Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 on November 3, 1951, with Weber
Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school....

's overture to Euryanthe
Euryanthe
Euryanthe is a German "grand, heroic, romantic" opera by Carl Maria von Weber, first performed at the Theater am Kärntnertor, Vienna on 25 October 1823...

and Brahms' Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 1 (Brahms)
The Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, is a symphony written by Johannes Brahms. Brahms spent at least fourteen years completing this work, whose sketches date from 1854. Brahms himself declared that the symphony, from sketches to finishing touches, took 21 years, from 1855 to 1876...

. On December 29, 1951, there was another all-Wagner program that included the two excerpts from Siegfried
Siegfried (opera)
Siegfried is the third of the four operas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring...

and Die Walküre
Die Walküre
Die Walküre , WWV 86B, is the second of the four operas that form the cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner...

featured on the March 1948 telecast, plus the Prelude to Act II of Lohengrin
Lohengrin (opera)
Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself...

; the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting...

; and "Siegfried's Death and Funeral Music" from Götterdämmerung
Götterdämmerung
is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen...

.

On March 15, 1952, Toscanini conducted the Symphonic Interlude from Franck
César Franck
César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life....

's Rédemption; Sibelius
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

's En Saga
En Saga
En saga is a tone poem written by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in 1892. After hearing Sibelius' choral work Kullervo, the conductor Robert Kajanus encouraged Sibelius to compose a purely orchestral work, which turned out finally to be this work...

; Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

's "Nuages" and "Fetes" from Nocturnes
Nocturnes
Nocturnes is an orchestral composition in three movements by the French composer Claude Debussy. It was completed on 15 December 1899.-Movements:The three movements are:* I. Nuages * II. Fêtes * III...

; and the overture of Rossini's William Tell
William Tell (opera)
Guillaume Tell is an opera in four acts by Gioachino Rossini to a French libretto by Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis, based on Friedrich Schiller's play Wilhelm Tell. Based on the legend of William Tell, this opera was Rossini's last, even though the composer lived for nearly forty more years...

. The final telecast, on March 22, 1952, included Beethoven's Symphony No. 5
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

, and Respighi
Ottorino Respighi
Ottorino Respighi was an Italian composer, musicologist and conductor. He is best known for his orchestral "Roman trilogy": Fountains of Rome ; Pines of Rome ; and Roman Festivals...

's The Pines of Rome
Pini di Roma
Pines of Rome is a symphonic poem written in 1924 by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi and, together with Fontane di Roma and Feste Romane, forms what is sometimes loosely referred to as his "Roman trilogy"...

.

The NBC cameras were often left on Toscanini for extended periods, documenting not only his baton techniques but his deep involvement in the music. At the end of a piece, Toscanini generally nodded rather than bowed and exited the stage quickly. Although NBC continued to broadcast the orchestra on radio until April 1954, telecasts were abandoned after March 1952.

As part of a restoration project initiated by the Toscanini family in the late 1980s, the kinescopes were fully restored and issued by RCA on VHS
VHS
The Video Home System is a consumer-level analog recording videocassette standard developed by Victor Company of Japan ....

 and laser disc beginning in 1989. The audio portion of the sound was taken, not from the noisy kinescopes, but from 33-1/3 rpm 16-inch transcription disc and high fidelity
High fidelity
High fidelity—or hi-fi—reproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners and home audio enthusiasts to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound or images, to distinguish it from the poorer quality sound produced by inexpensive audio equipment...

 audio tape recordings made simultaneously by RCA technicians during the televised concerts. The hi-fi audio was synchronized with the kinescope video for the home video release. Original introductions by NBC's longtime announcer Ben Grauer
Ben Grauer
Benjamin Franklin Grauer was an US radio and TV personality, following a career during the 1920s as a child actor in films and on Broadway. He began his career as a child in David Warfield's production of The Return of Peter Grimm. Among his early credits were roles in films directed by D.W....

 were replaced with new commentary by Martin Bookspan
Martin Bookspan
Martin Bookspan is an announcer, commentator and author. He was the announcer on the PBS series Live from Lincoln Center from its beginnings in 1976 until 2006, when he retired and was replaced by Fred Child...

. The entire group of Toscanini videos has since been reissued by Testament on DVD
DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

, with further improvements to the sound.

Film

In 1943, Toscanini made a 31-minute film for the United States Office of War Information called Hymn of the Nations
Hymn of the Nations
Hymn of the Nations, originally titled Arturo Toscanini: Hymn of the Nations , is a film directed by Alexander Hammid, which features a patriotic work for tenor soloist, chorus, and orchestra, composed by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi in the early-1860s...

, directed by Alexander Hammid. It was mostly filmed in NBC's Studio 8-H and consists of Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony in a performance of Verdi's Overture to La Forza del Destino and Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" (Inno delle nazioni), which contains national anthems of England, France, and Italy (the World War I allied nations), to which Toscanini added the Soviet "Internationale" and "The Star Spangled Banner". Tenor Jan Peerce
Jan Peerce
Jan Peerce was an American operatic tenor. Peerce was an accomplished performer on the operatic and Broadway concert stages, in solo recitals, and as a recording artist. He is the father of film director Larry Peerce....

 and the Westminster Choir performed in the latter work and the film was narrated by Burgess Meredith
Burgess Meredith
Oliver Burgess Meredith , known professionally as Burgess Meredith, was an American actor in theatre, film, and television, who also worked as a director...

.

The film was released by RCA/BMG on DVD in 2004. By this time the "Internationale" had been cut from the 1943 film, but the complete "Hymn of the Nations" can still be heard in the audio recording which accompanied the DVD on a CD. Hymn of the Nations was nominated for a 1944 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short
Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject
This is a list of films by year that have received an Oscar together with the other nominations for best documentary short subject. Following the Academy's practice, the year listed for each film is the year of release: the awards are announced and presented early in the following year.-1940s:*1941...

.

Toscanini: The Maestro
Toscanini: The Maestro
Toscanini: The Maestro is a documentary about Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, who was once considered by most to be the greatest maestro of the twentieth century. It was originally created for the Bravo channel in 1985...

is a 1985 documentary made for cable television. The film features archival footage of the conductor and interviews with musicians who worked with him. This film was released on VHS and in 2004 on the same DVD with Hymn of the Nations.

Toscanini is the subject of the 1988 fictionalized biography Il giovane Toscanini (Young Toscanini), starring C. Thomas Howell
C. Thomas Howell
Christopher Thomas "Tommy" Howell , known by his stage name C. Thomas Howell, is an American actor and film director. He starred in the films The Outsiders as Ponyboy Curtis and in The Hitcher as Jim Halsey. He has appeared in The Da Vinci Treasure,Soul Man, Red Dawn, Secret Admirer, Gettysburg, H. G...

 and Dame Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, DBE was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age...

, and directed by Franco Zeffirelli
Franco Zeffirelli
Franco Zeffirelli KBE is an Italian director and producer of films and television. He is also a director and designer of operas and a former senator for the Italian center-right Forza Italia party....

. It received scathing reviews and was never officially released in the United States. The film is a fictional recounting of the events that led up to Toscanini making his conducting debut in Rio de Janeiro in 1886. Although nearly all of the plot is embellished, the events surrounding the sudden and unexpected conducting debut are based on fact.

Acclaim and criticism

Throughout his career, Toscanini was virtually idolized by the critics (a notable exception being Virgil Thomson
Virgil Thomson
Virgil Thomson was an American composer and critic. He was instrumental in the development of the "American Sound" in classical music...

), as well as by most fellow musicians and the public alike. He enjoyed the kind of consistent critical acclaim during his life that few other musicians have had. Toscanini was featured three times on the cover of Time magazine, in 1926, 1934, and again in 1948. In the magazine's history, he is the only conductor to have been so honored.
On March 25, 1989, the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 issued a 25 cent postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 in his honor.

Over the past thirty years or so, however, as a new generation has appeared, there has been an increasing amount of revisionist
Historical revisionism (negationism)
Historical revisionism is either the legitimate scholastic re-examination of existing knowledge about a historical event, or the illegitimate distortion of the historical record such that certain events appear in a more or less favourable light. For the former, i.e. the academic pursuit, see...

 criticism directed at him. These critics contend that Toscanini was ultimately a detriment to American music rather than an asset because of the tremendous marketing of him by RCA as the greatest conductor of all time and his preference to perform mostly older European music. According to Harvey Sachs
Harvey Sachs
Harvey Sachs, is an American-Canadian-Swiss writer who has written many books on musical subjects.His books include the standard biography of and a book of essays on the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, plus an edited collection of Toscanini's letters.* Toscanini, Philadelphia & New York: J. B...

, Mortimer Frank, and B. H. Haggin
B. H. Haggin
Bernard H. Haggin , better known as B.H. Haggin, was an American music critic.-Early life:A lifelong inhabitant of New York City, he graduated from Juilliard School in 1920, where he studied piano.He published his first article in 1923...

, this criticism can be traced to the lack of focus on Toscanini as a conductor rather than his legacy. Frank, in his recent book Toscanini: The NBC Years, rejects this revisionism quite strongly, and cites the author Joseph Horowitz
Joseph Horowitz
Joseph Horowitz is an American cultural historian whose seven books mainly deal with the institutional history of classical music in the United States. As a producer of concerts, he has played a pioneering role in promoting thematic programming and new concert formats...

 (author of Understanding Toscanini) as perhaps the most extreme of these critics. Frank writes that this revisionism has unfairly influenced younger listeners and critics, who may have not heard as many of Toscanini's performances as older listeners, and as a result, Toscanini's reputation, extraordinarily high in the years that he was active, has suffered a decline. Conversely, Joseph Horowitz contends that those who keep the Toscanini legend alive are members of a "Toscanini cult", an idea not altogether refuted by Frank, but not embraced by him, either.

Some contemporary critics, particularly Virgil Thomson, also took Toscanini to task for not paying enough attention to the "modern repertoire" (i.e., twentieth-century composers, of which Thomson was one). It may be speculated, knowing Toscanini's antipathy toward much twentieth-century music, that perhaps Thomson had a feeling that the conductor would never have played any of Thomson's music, and that perhaps because of this, Thomson bore a resentment against him. During Toscanini's middle years, however, such now widely accepted composers as Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

, whose music the conductor held in very high regard, were considered to be radical and modern.

Another criticism leveled at Toscanini stems from the constricted sound quality that comes from many of his recordings, notably those made in NBC's Studio 8-H
NBC Radio City Studios
NBC Radio City Studios is the name given to radio and television studio complexes in New York's Rockefeller Center, San Francisco, and the former radio-TV complex located at the northeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood, California....

. Studio 8-H was foremost a radio and later a television studio, not a true concert hall. Its dry acoustics
Acoustics
Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics...

 lacking in much reverberation, while ideal for broadcasting, were unsuited for symphonic concerts and opera. However, it is widely believed that Toscanini favored it because its close miking enabled listeners to hear every instrumental strand in the orchestra clearly, something that the conductor strongly believed in.

Toscanini has also been criticized for lack of nuance and metronomic
Metronome
A metronome is any device that produces regular, metrical ticks — settable in beats per minute. These ticks represent a fixed, regular aural pulse; some metronomes also include synchronized visual motion...

 (rhythmically too rigid) performances:
Others state (and there is some evidence from the recordings) that Toscanini's tempos, quite flowing in his earlier recordings, became stricter as he got older, although this is not to be taken as a literally true statement. His 1953 recording of Pictures at an Exhibition
Pictures at an Exhibition
Pictures at an Exhibition is a suite in ten movements composed for piano by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.The suite is Mussorgsky's most famous piano composition, and has become a showpiece for virtuoso pianists...

, for instance, and his 1950 La Mer
La Mer (Debussy)
La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre , or simply La mer , is an orchestral composition by the French composer Claude Debussy. It was started in 1903 in France and completed in 1905 on the English Channel coast in Eastbourne...

, are considered masterpieces by many.

The Toscanini Legacy

Beginning in 1963, NBC Radio broadcast a weekly series of programs entitled Toscanini: The Man Behind The Legend, commemorating Toscanini's years with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The show, hosted by NBC announcer Ben Grauer, who had also hosted many of the original Toscanini broadcasts, featured interviews with members of the conductor's family, as well as musicians of the NBC Symphony, David Sarnoff, and noted classical musicians who had worked with the conductor, such as Giovanni Martinelli
Giovanni Martinelli
Giovanni Martinelli was a celebrated Italian operatic tenor. He was particularly associated with the Italian lyric-dramatic repertory, although he performed French operatic roles to great acclaim as well...

. It spotlighted partial or complete rebroadcasts of many of Toscanini's recordings. The program ran for at least three years, and did not feature any of the revisionist commentary about the conductor one finds so often today in magazines such as American Record Guide
American Record Guide
The American Record Guide is a classical music magazine. It has reviewed classical music recordings since 1935.Since 1992, with the incorporation of the Musical America editorial functions into ARG, it started covering concerts, musicians, ensembles and orchestras in the US.The magazine prides...

.

In 1986, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts purchased the bulk of Toscanini's papers, scores and sound recordings from his heirs. Named The Toscanini Legacy, this vast collection contains thousands of letters, programs and various documents, over 1,800 scores and more than 400 hours of sound recordings. A finding aids for the scores and sound recordings is available on the library's website. In house finding aids are available for other parts of the collection.

The Library also has many other collections that have Toscanini materials in them, such as the Bruno Walter papers, the Fiorello H. La Guardia papers, and a collection of material from Rose Bampton.

Quotations

  • Of German composer Richard Strauss
    Richard Strauss
    Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

    , whose political behavior during World War II was arguably very questionable: "To Strauss the composer I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it back on again."
  • "The conduct of my life has been, is, and will always be the echo and reflection of my conscience."
  • "Gentlemen, be democrats in life but aristocrats in art."
  • Referring to the first movement of the Eroica
    Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)
    Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major , also known as the Eroica , is a landmark musical work marking the full arrival of the composer's "middle-period," a series of unprecedented large scale works of emotional depth and structural rigor.The symphony is widely regarded as a mature...

    : "To some it is Napoleon, to some it is a philosophical struggle. To me it is allegro con brio."
  • At the point where Puccini left off writing the finale of his unfinished opera, Turandot: "Here Death triumphed over art". (Toscanini then left the opera pit, the lights went up and the audience left in silence.).
  • Toscanini was invited in the year 1940 to visit a movie set at the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios. There he said with tears in his eyes, "I will remember three things in my life: the sunset, the Grand Canyon
    Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park, the 15th national park in the United States...

     and Eleanor Powell
    Eleanor Powell
    Eleanor Torrey Powell was an American film actress and dancer of the 1930s and 1940s, known for her exuberant solo tap dancing.-Early life:...

    's dancing."

See also


Further reading

  • Antek, Samuel
    Samuel Antek
    Samuel Antek was a violinist in the NBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Arturo Toscanini. He joined at the orchestra's inception in 1937 and played with it until its dissolution in 1954....

     (author) and Hupka, Robert
    Robert Hupka
    Robert Hupka was a recording engineer for RCA and later for Columbia Records and, until his retirement, a cameraman for CBS Television in New York. He was born in Vienna, and emigrated to the U.S. at the onset of World War II to escape the Nazi persecution which took his parents' lives...

     (photographs), This Was Toscanini, New York: Vanguard Press, 1963 (consists of a series of essays by one of the NBC Symphony musicians who played under Toscanini, combined with remarkable rehearsal photographs from the latter part of Toscanini's career).
  • Frank, Mortimer H., Arturo Toscanini: The NBC Years, New York: Amadeus Press, 2002. (Re-evaluates favorably several of Toscanini's most strongly criticized performances. Complete list and analysis of NBC symphony performances under Toscanini as well as other conductors.)
  • Haggin, B. H.
    B. H. Haggin
    Bernard H. Haggin , better known as B.H. Haggin, was an American music critic.-Early life:A lifelong inhabitant of New York City, he graduated from Juilliard School in 1920, where he studied piano.He published his first article in 1923...

    , Arturo Toscanini: Contemporary Recollections of the Maestro, New York: Da Capo Press, 1989 (reprint of Conversations with Toscanini and The Toscanini Musicians Knew).
  • Horowitz, Joseph, Understanding Toscanini, New York: Knopf, 1987 (a revisionist treatment, attacking Toscanini's legacy; contains factual errors corrected by Sachs in Reflections on Toscanini).
  • Marek, George R.
    George Richard Marek
    George Richard Marek was an American music executive and author of biographies of classical composers.Marek was born in Vienna, the son of dentist Martin Marek and Emily Weisberger. From 1918, Marek studied at the University of Vienna until he emigrated to the United States in 1920, where he...

    , Toscanini, New York: Atheneum, 1975. ISBN 0-689-10655-6 (Contains some factual errors corrected by Sachs.)
  • Marsh, R. C. Toscanini on Records – Part I: High Fidelity Magazine vol 4,1954, pp. 55–58
  • Marsh Part II: vol 4,1955, pp. 75–81
  • Marsh Part III: vol 4,1955, pp. 83–91
  • Matthews, Denis
    Denis Matthews
    Denis Matthews was an English pianist and musicologist.Denis James Matthews was born in Coventry, the son of a motor salesman. He attended Arnold Lodge School, Leamington Spa, from 1927 to 1932 and Warwick School from October 1932 to the summer of 1936, when he left to study at the Royal Academy...

    , Arturo Toscanini. New York: Hippocrene, 1982. ISBN 0-88254-657-0 (includes discography)
  • Meyer, Donald Carl, The NBC Symphony Orchestra. UMI Dissertation Services, 1994.
  • O'Connell, Charles, The Other Side of the Record. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1947. (Inside view of Toscanini's recordings)
  • Sachs, Harvey
    Harvey Sachs
    Harvey Sachs, is an American-Canadian-Swiss writer who has written many books on musical subjects.His books include the standard biography of and a book of essays on the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, plus an edited collection of Toscanini's letters.* Toscanini, Philadelphia & New York: J. B...

    , Toscanini, New York: Prima Publishing, 1995. (Reprint of standard and best biography originally published 1978.)
  • Harvey Sachs, Reflections on Toscanini, New York: Prima Publishing, 1993. (Series of essays on various aspects of Toscanini's life and impact.)
  • Harvey Sachs|, ed., The Letters of Arturo Toscanini, New York: Knopf, 2003.
  • Howard Taubman, The Maestro: The Life of Arturo Toscanini, New York: Simon & Schuster
    Simon & Schuster
    Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...

    , 1951 (contains factual errors corrected by Haggin and Sachs).
  • Teachout, Terry
    Terry Teachout
    Terry Teachout is a critic, biographer and blogger. He is the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, the chief culture critic of Commentary, and the author of "Sightings," a column about the arts in America that appears biweekly in the Friday Wall Street Journal...

    , Toscanini Lives, Commentary Magazine, July/August 2002

External links

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