The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: New biography explains the professional importance and personal quirks of famed maestro Arturo Toscanini | July 8, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

You  know  how sometimes a movie preview or trailer gives so much away of the story that it leaves you feeling you don’t really need to see the movie.

That’s how The Ear felt when he read a recent review in The New York Times of a new and exhaustive biography by Harvey Sachs of the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini (below).

Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867 – 1957) conducts the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a televised recording of Verdi‘s ‘Hymn of the Nations‘, 1944. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This is the second time that Sachs has written about the maestro. This time, however, he had access to recently released private papers.

And boy, are there some surprises.

In his lengthy review, Robert Gottlieb gives The Ear just about all he wants to know or needs to know about the Italian master from his youth (below, ca. 1890) to old age — and then some. (In the YouTube video at the bottom you can hear and see Toscanini conducting “The Ride of the Valkyries” by Richard Wagner in  1948.)

The Ear knew Toscanini was important. But he was never really quite sure why.

Now he knows.

Here is a link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/books/review/toscanini-biography-harvey-sachs.html

Read the review and see if you agree.

And tell us what you make of Toscanini the musician and Toscanini the man.

The Ear wants to hear.

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3 Comments »

  1. Nice review (the book is almost a thousand pages long so no wonder it is so lengthy, and so informative).

    But I find these words hard to believe: “He (Toscanini) didn’t want a cult; what he wanted was to make music. It was David Sarnoff who wanted glory — and profits.”

    Surely right about Sarnoff but Arturo loved attention too. It takes two to tango.

    Comment by FFlambeau — July 8, 2017 @ 11:04 pm

  2. That is the longest book review I have ever read, and also one of the most informative. Despite telling me everything I wanted to know about Toscanini, and then some, it makes me want to read the book all the more. Thanks for alerting us to it, Ear!

    Comment by The Wayward Critic — July 8, 2017 @ 8:11 am


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