- Toscanini, Arturo
died Jan. 16, 1957, New York, N.Y., U.S.Italian conductor.Toscanini entered a conservatory at age nine, studying cello, piano, and composition. He began his professional life as a cellist. After substituting for an indisposed conductor in Giuseppe Verdi's Aïda (Buenos Aires, 1886), he conducted in various Italian opera houses, giving the premieres of I Pagliacci (1892) and La Bohème (1896). He was appointed musical director of La Scala, Milan, in 1898, and of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, in 1908. Principally known for his readings of Verdi's operas and Beethoven's symphonies, he also gave remarkable performances of the music of Richard Wagner. Toscanini conducted the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra from 1928 to 1936. In 1930 he became the first non-German to conduct at Bayreuth, but he stopped performing in Germany to protest Nazi policies. The NBC Orchestra was formed for him in 1937, and he conducted it until his retirement in 1954.
* * *▪ Italian conductorborn March 25, 1867, Parma, Italydied Jan. 16, 1957, New York CityItalian conductor, considered one of the great virtuoso conductors of the first half of the 20th century.Toscanini studied at the conservatories of Parma and Milan, intending to become a cellist. At the age of 19, when playing at the opera house at Rio de Janeiro, he was called upon to fill in for the conductor and performed Giuseppe Verdi's Aida from memory. He came into prominence as a conductor in Italy and elsewhere and was appointed musical director of La Scala, Milan, in 1898, and of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, in 1908. He conducted the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra from 1928 to 1936 and appeared with orchestras all over the world, except those of Italy and Germany during the Fascist regimes. From 1937 to 1954 he directed the NBC Symphony, an orchestra sponsored by the U.S. radio network.Toscanini became principally known for his readings of the operas of Verdi and the symphonies of Beethoven, and he gave remarkable performances of the music of Wagner. His interpretations were notable for detail of phrasing, dynamic intensity, and an essentially classical conception of form. His phenomenal memory stood him in good stead when, suffering from poor eyesight, he was obliged always to conduct from memory. He commanded from the artists who worked under him a devotion that often made them reach something like his own fervour.Additional ReadingJoseph Horowitz, Understanding Toscanini (1987); Harvey Sachs, Toscanini (1978), and Reflections on Toscanini (1991).
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