Arturo Toscanini began his American career at the Metropolitan Opera in 1908, but left abruptly seven years later after a quarrel with management and the dissolution of his long affair with soprano Geraldine Farrar; he never conducted in the house again. Toscanini returned to Europe; six years elapsed before his Carnegie Hall debut in 1921, when he visited New York City with the orchestra of La Scala. In 1926, he created such excitement after his first appearance with the New York Philharmonic that he was appointed co-music director the following season. Toscanini was tyrannical in his demand for orchestral precision, but his interpretations could also show “wonderful delicacy and tenderness and gentleness,” as Mortimer Frank puts it in his book Arturo Toscanini: The NBC Years. Toscanini remained with the New York Philharmonic until 1936.
In 1937, he became music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which had been created for him. Although some of these early radio broadcasts took place within the bone-dry acoustics of Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Toscanini and the NBC Symphony played together at Carnegie Hall until the maestro’s last appearance before he retired in 1954.
“When the baton trembles in my hand, I shall conduct no more.”
From the Archives
Arturo Toscanini at Carnegie Hall
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