For those who love all things Italian... 

                                                              "MAESTRO" ARTURO TOSCANINI, THE GREATEST CONDUCTOR OF ALL TIME...

Arturo Toscanini (Parma, Italy, March 25, 1867 - January 16, 1957) was an Italian conductor. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory.  He was renowned for his brilliant intensity, his restless perfectionism, his phenomenal ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory which allowed him to correct errors in orchestral parts unnoticed for decades by his colleagues.


Arturo Toscanini was the most celebrated conductor of his time, considered by many to be the greatest conductor of the twentieth century. He revolutionized musical interpretation by frequently insisting that his orchestras play the music exactly as written, a highly unusual practice in the nineteenth century, when Toscanini began his career. He conducted the world premieres of such operas as Puccini's "La Boheme" and "Turandot", and Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci". During his lifetime and for a short while afterwards,he was revered by critics (and still is by the older ones.)


Toscanini became resident conductor at La Scala, Milan, in 1898, remaining there until 1908 and returning during the 1920s. He also had spells at the Metropolitan Opera, New York (1908 - 1915) and Bayreuth (1930 -1931) as well as with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1926 - 1936) and at the Salzburg Festival (1934 - 1937). Strongly opposed to Italian and German fascism, he left Europe for the United States, where in 1937 the NBC Symphony Orchestra was founded for him, and with which he performed regularly until 1954 on national radio, thus becoming the first conducting superstar of modern mass media. He continued to conduct live radio performances until his retirement at 87.


Toscanini conducted the world premieres of many operas, including four which have become part of the standard operatic repertoire: I Pagliacci, La Boheme, La Fanciulla del West and Turandot. He also conducted the first Italian performances of Siegfried, Die Gotterdammerung, Salome, Pelleas et Melisande, as well as the South American premieres of Tristan und Isolde and Madama Butterfly and the North American premiere of Boris Godunov.


At La Scala, Toscanini pushed through reforms in the performance of opera, having what was then the most modern stage lightning system installed in 1901 and an orchestral pit installed in 1907. He insisted on darkening the lights during performances. As his biographer Harvey Sachs wrote: "he believed that a performance could not be artistically successful unless unity of intention was first established among all the components: singers, orchestra, chorus, staging, sets, and costumes."