This was Toscanini; Part one
This is Bridget polities speaking to you from New York 1967 promises to be the year of the Toscanini revival. January 16th of this year marks the tenth anniversary of his death and March 25th the 100 anniversary of his birth. One of the finest tributes to the maestro is undoubtedly the book. This was Toscanini published by Vanguard Press. The text was taken from a manuscript by Samuel Antec a violinist who played under Toscanini from 1937 to 1954 and the extraordinary photographs of the Grand Old Man are by Robert Hooke. Mr Hope. When did you first hear Toscanini. The first time I heard Toscanini was on August the 25th 1934. I remember very well it was the day before my 15th birthday and my parents took me to the Salzburg festivals. We had tickets to the concert on the twenty sixth which was on the program with Lata
Lehmann the soloist and the day before we went through the first door house on a guided tour. As we walked through the corridor outside the auditorium we were told that we could not go in the hall because Toscanini was rehearsing for tomorrow's concert. So it was through closed doors that for the first time I heard maestro and I heard something that I had never experienced before. You are.
I was struck as by a vision I stood this spill of chills running down my spine.
I shall never forget this experience. And little did I dream then of the hundreds of times I was to hear Toscanini during the next 20 years. The music that you have just heard was the climax of the funeral music from Wagner's Gotterdammerung which I took here from Toscanini 1941 recording with the NBC Orchestra. I might also add that I have tried to recreate this experience for you here in my favorite auditorium the pious tenth hall at Manhattanville College in Purchase New York where we are speaking from and where I have set up the finest sound equipment to reproduce Toscanini's great music as I remember it. What was your impression of the man himself when you first met him. The first time I met the maestro personally it was not until many many years after this first experience in Salzburg but the first time I saw him more or less face to face was just during the festivals
and I remember my sister was walking through the city of Salzburg and you know the expression God is walking through the woods. And that was just about what it was because the traffic stopped. Everybody stood still and just simply stared at the greatness of that man was just radiating all around. Whenever we hear about him we hear about this violent temper that he had was it really is as bad as people said it was. Well I think that he was so dedicated. To his art and. Totally involved that anything else was secondary and he had a violent temper he had to have it because in order to create the great music that he did You cannot be just an ordinary normal human being with ordinary dispositions and yet at concerts he really wasn't a flamboyant conductor.
No he was very sparing in his gestures compared to him conductors who go in for a lot of acrobatics. But I think that Toscanini's way of conducting is perhaps best described as Samuel and in our book there's was Toscanini antic who played under Toscanini for 17 years you know it was not only a wonderful musician and conducted himself in later years but he was a man of great perception and he could convey what he perceived most beautifully. Let me just read a few excerpts here. He says. I cannot recall his ever making a gesture that was purely mechanical impersonal and not closely identified in mood or movement with the expression of the musical phrases he felt that he conducted the music not the orchestra. This he did with extreme simplicity and without ostentatious display of physical mannerisms Toscanini's conducting was the most
controlled and self-disciplined of any conductor with whom I've ever worked. He never struck a consciously dramatic pose or allowed himself a moment of narcissistic posturing. His movements were usually confined to the space directly before him and almost entirely between the shoulder and the waist with legs slightly apart and seldom changing their position. He always seemed to bend slightly forward from the waist particularly in the softer and more tender passages. You felt it brought him into more intimate contact with the plane. Not unlike someone hovering over or shielding a delicate plane. It's a very vivid picture. And to describe it in words. I took it in photographs. There's one other thing that I do want to read to you because and takes observation of mine they're almost identical. I remember very well hearing my sister do
Beethoven's Sixth Symphony in Vienna. And when I heard him do it for the first time I was just completely gone over the beauty of the tranquility the peace and the antic describes it here in the book. I like that. I shall always treasure as one of my most beautiful memories the picture of Toscanini singing the pastorals opening phrase a man transfigured his face uplifted his arms and hands so gracefully and tenderly pantomiming the three. When we played I felt as if I were playing along as if mine was the responsibility of achieving this inexpressible atmosphere of benediction.
The NG with thanks. I think Samuel antic has described it as beautiful and as truthfully as any anybody can. One of the most fascinating things that I found in the Antec manuscript was that as rigorous a taskmaster as Toscanini was yet the musicians felt freer under him than they did under other conductors who use the individual talent more sing. My sister had such a gift to play on the hymn was easier than to play on my and the other conducted was his speed that was so magnificent that everything even if the orchestra had not read Hirst a piece and would play for the first time. Even orchestra's I think that had not played previously on the maestro they would just fall right in line with this beat it was very hard to really get to get out of step. And it was the sincerity of Toscanini the complete dedication to the music
and the the selfless ness that really conveyed the music and it was music it was not the conductor very often when you listen to a conductor you are so sidetracked by the conductors ego who is trying to show off but Toscanini just simply present that music in its purest essence. He was a man of incredible honesty. Mike Lynn Merrill was the musical director of RCA Victor during my days there. He mentioned once to Maestro after he did a beautiful performance of the Brahms Second Symphony and as it Maestro this was almost greater than the performance that you did 20 years ago with the New York Philharmonic. And Toscanini said to him well in 20 years don't you think I should have learned something. You know of course I only heard him a few times in concert and then frankly I went back
to the stage door to see him as so many many hundreds of people did after a performance. But what struck me about him was his humility both on the podium and when he would come out the stage door. You speak of sincerity as being the key to his greatness What were the other facets that made him so great. To be a conductor you have to have the quality to convey. But there are many conductors who have very little to convey or they convey just what they feel like they would be traitors to the composer they would conduct and play just the way they feel and pay not always attention to what the composer had in mind marking in the score. Well maestro had those selfless dedication to the composer. He was completely in the service of the composer. He would identify himself with a composer he would become the composer and recreate from
the written. Symbols in the score he would recreate into actuality what really was on the mind of the composer which is a very very difficult thing to do. But he had the genius to recognize it. How did he achieve such clarity of the musical line in theirs. It is an extraordinary phenomenon but to me his score the clarity I always looked at it like a spider web that would glitter in the sun and you would see every little thread of this magnificent texture and yet you had the entire spider web. It was an extraordinary. Image that he must have had on his mind to really get every detail all these little in the voices that that were in the score which he wanted to be heard. Another unique quality of Maestro was the in movement the pulsation the flow of the music.
Like when you throw a stone and a lake and you see the ripples move. There was nothing stagnant nothing stale. It was living. Can you show us how he differed from other conductors. Yes you can take every piece of music that has been recorded and compared. And I wish that people would do it because it's a revelation. Now I will give you an example. Take the Beethoven First Symphony the main way it's the third movement. I choose this because I remember the tremendous impact of the symphony made on me when I heard it first by Toscanini. After of course I heard it by every present day conductor. Now the recording that I will play you hear is Toscanini's recording with the BBC orchestra which you made in 1937. With the.
With the. Now listen to conductor.
Now listen to conduct the B. Now listen to conduct a c. Ya. Ya.
Now listen again to Toscanini. The big. A are. You. Another example is for instance the difference in the Magic Flute overture between Toscanini and Sir Thomas Beecham who certainly was considered as one of the great Mozart conductors. Listen to the following passage first Tosca me again with a BBC orchestra. For.
Before. I will now make a very interesting experiment and play for you this passage in slow motion. You will hear how even in these very fast moving nodes Toscanini maintained a clockwork precision like a pendulum. But how at the same time these notes were animated and how they are linked together to form a magnificent floating musical line which was so characteristic of Toscanini.
Now we jump.
Well I think the music speaks for itself.
Thanks drunk. I see what you mean. There was one final gift that my strength which I have never found in any other conductor. The music was simply a means to convey a reality a reality which was on the mind of the composer with other words the music conveyed something it was not just simply a melody that you listened to the reality that he conveyed by means of song. It was so tremendous he portrayed life. Death. This life the next life. Anything that was in the music. Did he give these images of life and death and the emotions that you describe directly to them and he conveyed to him that it was I think it was just simply
by recreating the music because the music is a language with words it's the most powerful language and the power of music cannot be fully appreciated unless you hear music in this truest purest form. As much as possible in this life. But I take for instance of the example the opening phrase of Smith and those in the pictures and the stomp on the river. And the origin of those rivers just a little little brook and it opens with a flute passage. Well you can visualize you can hear the waves just dashing against the little stones it is so real. It is it is water.
You were. The source of the the plight of the apprentice who has made the fetch water and the building is being flooded you have and water is the panic. It's real it's not just. Going to. The bank. With. The book.
- This was Toscanini
- Part one
- Producing Organization
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program presents the first part of a documentary that pays tribute to conductor Arturo Toscanini.
- Other Description
- A documentary honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of conductor Arturo Toscanini, hosted by Brigette Paolucci.
- Media type
Host: Stone, George
Interviewee: Hupka, Robert
Producer: Paolucci, Bridget
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-Sp.15 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “This was Toscanini; Part one,” 1967-09-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 17, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h98zf041.
- MLA: “This was Toscanini; Part one.” 1967-09-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 17, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h98zf041>.
- APA: This was Toscanini; Part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h98zf041