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Arturo Toscanini

(1867—1957) Italian conductor


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(b Parma, 1867; d NY, 1957).

It. conductor and cellist. Entered Parma Cons. 1876, studying vc. and comp. Engaged as cellist in opera orch. for S. American tour, 1886 and in Rio de Janeiro replaced regular cond., conducting Aida from memory. In It. later that year cond. Catalani's Edmea in Turin. Played vc. in f.p. of Otello, Milan 1887. Cond. opera in various It. cities. Cond. f.p. of Pagliacci in Milan (Teatro dal Verme), 1892, f.p. of La bohème, Turin 1896. Cond. f.ps. in Italy of Götterdämmerung, Turin 1895, and of Siegfried, Milan 1899. Début as sym. cond. Turin 1896 with municipal orch.; opera début at La Scala 1898 in Die Meistersinger as prin. cond. under management of Gatti‐Casazza. Stayed till 1903, resigning after demonstration when he refused to allow ten. an encore in a Verdi opera. Returned 1906–8. Went to NY Met with Gatti‐Casazza 1908, making début in Aida. Cond. f.p. of La fanciulla del West 1910, and f.ps. in USA of several operas, incl. Boris Godunov (1913). Cond. Verdi's Requiem at Met 1909 and Beethoven's 9th Sym. there 1913. Returned to It. 1915 and again became chief cond. at La Scala 1921–9, one of its golden periods. Cond. f.p. Turandot, 1926. Friction with Fascists led to his departure. Cond. part of NYPO seasons 1926–8 (orch. becoming Phil.‐Sym. Orch. of NY, 1928), prin. cond. 1928–36. Took orch. on European tour 1930. Cond. at Bayreuth 1930 and 1931, at Salzburg 1934–7 (famous perfs. of Falstaff, Fidelio, and Die Meistersinger). Début with Vienna PO 1933. Refused to cond. in Ger., It., and Austria under Nazi and Fascist régimes. Cond. inaugural concerts of Palestine SO (now Israel PO), 1936. NBC formed new orch. in NY for him which he cond. 1937–54, giving public concerts and many famous concert perfs. of operas. Guest cond. in London of BBC SO 1935 and 1937–9, with whom he recorded Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, 1938, and of Philharmonia Orch. 1952 in Brahms series. Returned to La Scala 1946, conducting a concert of It. operatic music and, in subsequent years, several other concerts. Last appearance as cond. NY June 1954. Encouraged Amer. composers, especially Barber and Hanson. Always cond. from memory, but not only because he was extremely short‐sighted. Tyrannized orchs., but drilled them to remarkable standards. Regarded by many Amer. critics as beyond criticism, but, like all conds., had his limitations, far outweighed in his case by virtues of clarity, expressiveness, and ens. Outstanding in It. opera, but also in Wagner and in a limited range of composers of symphonic mus. from Haydn to his own day.

Subjects: Music.


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