Arthur Toscanini (March 25, 1867 – January 16, 1957)
Naturally, they hissed at him at La Scala. But Arturo had the last laugh, recognised in his lifetime as the greatest conductor in the world, selector’s choice for launching the best operas on offer.
After spurning Mussolini and Hitler, he concentrated on playing for people who were primarily interested in art rather than power:
“Liberty, in my opinion, is the only orthodoxy within the limits of which art may express itself and flourish freely-liberty that is the best of all things in the life of man, if it is all one with wisdom and virtue.”
On the other hand, he could be dictatorial as required in the pit:
“Can’t you read? The score demands “con amore,” and what are you doing? You are playing it like married men!”
Here’s the Siegfried Idyll under Toscanini:
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