The Real Toscanini: Musicians Reveal the Maestro (Amadeus)
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Lauded by Verdi, Debussy, and other music legends, the celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini raised the standards of orchestral and operatic performance over an astonishing 69 years on the podium. But as he did so, he acquired a reputation as something of a tyrant who unleashed an explosive temper at musicians if rehearsals did not meet his expectations.
In The Real Toscanini: Musicians Reveal the Maestro (Amadeus Press), Cesare Civetta presents an intriguing collection of vivid interviews with 50 artists, including composers, conductors, singers, and instrumentalists who worked with Toscanini. These conversations, together with other firsthand recollections, clarify Toscanini’s philosophy, musical style, and techniques.
Overall, The Real Toscanini depicts a man tormented by inner demons of anger and depression, which were easily triggered by his frustration at being unable to produce the musical ideal in his mind’s ear. He is also revealed as a vehement anti-Fascist and an unequivocal opponent of totalitarianism and racism—he defied Mussolini and publically opposed Hitler. The book includes a comprehensive account of his 1936 inauguration of what is now known as the Israel Philharmonic, in solidarity with Jewish refugee musicians.
Toscanini comes through in this book as a tortured but deeply humane individual who strove to constantly improve—a sincere and humble musician who was nevertheless the pre-eminent maestro of the 20th century.