1867
Arturo Toscanini, destined to be the greatest conductor of his generation, is born.


A child prodigy, Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957), who was born in Parma, Italy, graduated the Parma Conservatory with high distinction in 1885. During his first year as a cellist with an Italian Opera company in Rio de Janeiro, at age 19, he was called upon to substitute, without a score, for the conductor at the start of Verdi's Aida, thus launching his marvelous conducting career. For several years he conducted in various Italian opera symphony houses, finally becoming chief conductor in Milan's La Scala, Italy's most prestigious opera house then under the direction of Giulio Gatti-Casazza, foremost music impresario. In 1908 Toscanini followed Gatti-Casazza to New York where for seven years he was principal conductor at the Metropolitan Opera House -he conducted over 100 operas without score. In the next phase of his career he toured several countries and became guest conductor for the New York Philharmonic. From 1937 to his retirement at age 87 in 1954 he was director of the National Broadcasting Company Symphony Orchestra where he gained even more fame. In his musical talent he was a genius who also had a magnetic personality filled the halls in which he played and evoked spontaneous admiration. Toscanini evinced a strong personality in his personal life as illustrated by his refusal to perform in German and Italy as protest against Nazism and Fascism, and his sympathy for Jewish musicians forced out of Nazi Germany. There could be no doubt about his musicianship, his staggering memory that enabled him to know every note, pause, nuance that was required of every instrument and every orchestra member. He was a perfectionist and the fervent, effusive, and utter enthusiasm that his performances demonstrated heartfelt appreciation. By the time of his death in 1957 he had become a legend universally regarded as "the Maestro" -the unparalleled, master conductor in the world.




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