Toscanini: Musician of Conscience

Liveright: Norton. Jun. 2017. 992p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781631492716. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631492723. MUSIC
OrangeReviewStarThe name Toscanini once struck fear in the hearts of musicians and awe in the hearts of his audiences. During his turbulent lifetime Arturo Toscanini (1867–1957) knew many famous composers, including Giuseppi Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, and Richard Strauss, and was influential in the interpretation of their works. His photographic memory enabled him to conduct without a score, and his exacting standards influenced reforms in the opera house and concert hall. Sachs, who is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music, wrote an earlier biography of his subject, but this completely new edition draws on the archives of such venerable institutions as Milan's La Scala, New York's Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic, as well as the Toscanini family's archive and the 1,500 letters that the author edited, translated, and annotated and published in 2002, as The Letters of Arturo Toscanini. Sachs blends his tale of the maestro's career with copious details of his private life, including Toscanini's affairs and his courageous stand against Fascism and Nazism.
VERDICT There is a wealth of information here for musicologists. Sachs's engaging account should also attract general readers interested in the subject. Highly recommended.
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