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Toscanini: Musician of Conscience
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Liveright 2017
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Description

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Selection

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Economist and Kirkus Reviews


An "extraordinary" biography that "in its breadth . . . reminds me of nothing so much as Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker" (New York Review of Books).


Harvey Sachs's "monumental" (Alex Ross) biography recounts the sixty-eight-year career of conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867–1957), an artist celebrated for his fierce dedication, photographic memory, explosive temper, impassioned performances, and uncompromising work ethic. Toscanini collaborated with Verdi, Puccini, Debussy, and Richard Strauss; undertook major reforms at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera; and eventually pioneered the radio and television broadcasts of the NBC Symphony. His monumental achievements inspired generations, while his opposition to Nazism and fascism made him a model for artists of conscience. In this "persuasive and compelling" new biography, Sachs illuminates the "crucial—the central—role Toscanini played in our musical culture for well over 60 years" (New York Times Book Review). Set against the roiling currents of twentieth-century Europe and the Americas, Toscanini is a "necessary" portrait of this "complex, flawed, but noble human being and towering artist" (Wall Street Journal) whose peerless influence reverberates today.
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Street Date:
06/27/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781631492723
ASIN:
B01M65SDYP
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APA Citation (style guide)

Harvey Sachs. (2017). Toscanini: Musician of Conscience. Liveright.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Harvey Sachs. 2017. Toscanini: Musician of Conscience. Liveright.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Harvey Sachs, Toscanini: Musician of Conscience. Liveright, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Harvey Sachs. Toscanini: Musician of Conscience. Liveright, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Harvey Sachs is the author or coauthor of eleven books, including Toscanini and Music in Fascist Italy. He lives in New York City and is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
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fullDescription

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Selection
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Economist and Kirkus Reviews

An "extraordinary" biography that "in its breadth . . . reminds me of nothing so much as Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker" (New York Review of Books).

Harvey Sachs's "monumental" (Alex Ross) biography recounts the sixty-eight-year career of conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867–1957), an artist celebrated for his fierce dedication, photographic memory, explosive temper, impassioned performances, and uncompromising work ethic. Toscanini collaborated with Verdi, Puccini, Debussy, and Richard Strauss; undertook major reforms at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera; and eventually pioneered the radio and television broadcasts of the NBC Symphony. His monumental achievements inspired generations, while his opposition to Nazism and fascism made him a model for artists of conscience. In this "persuasive and compelling" new biography, Sachs illuminates the "crucial—the central—role Toscanini played in our musical culture for well over 60 years" (New York Times Book Review). Set against the roiling currents of twentieth-century Europe and the Americas, Toscanini is a "necessary" portrait of this "complex, flawed, but noble human being and towering artist" (Wall Street Journal) whose peerless influence reverberates today.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Tim Page;New York Review of Books
      • content: Extraordinary . . . . Indeed, I cannot think of another biography of a classical musician to which it can be compared: in its breadth, scope, and encyclopedic command of factual detail it reminds me of nothing so much as Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker. . . . Never before has [this] history been told so well.
      • premium: False
      • source: Alex Ross;The New Yorker
      • content: [A] monumental new Toscanini biography. The most riveting pages are devoted to the nineteen-thirties and forties, when the conductor converted his favorite repertory—Beethoven, Verdi, and Wagner—into emblems of the fight against Fascism. I couldn't help wondering: What would Toscanini have done if he had been confronted by geomusical snarl in Hamburg? He might have had something to say.
      • premium: False
      • source: Rob Cowan;Gramophone
      • content: Without doubt the most engaging, the best-written and certainly the most comprehensive Toscanini yet to be published.
      • premium: False
      • source: David Denby;The New Yorker
      • content: A very engaging and at times gripping chronicle of music and society, all of it devoted to the unending drive and conscientiousness that made Toscanini's performances so riveting—and, to some, so repellent. . . . What comes through in Sachs's long chronicle is the extent of Toscanini's role, witting and unwitting, in transforming the way that classical music was produced and consumed in the twentieth century.
      • premium: False
      • source: Robert Gottlieb;New York Times Book Review
      • content: Sachs's account is persuasive and compelling in the important ways. . . . . Today, Toscanini is receding from our consciousness, notwithstanding his many records. . . . Creative geniuses can survive for centuries, even millenniums; interpreters inevitably go over the cultural cliff. But that doesn't detract from the crucial—the central—role Toscanini played in our musical culture for well over 60 years. Nor from the almost universal regard he was held in as a man.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jonathan Rosenberg;Christian Science Monitor
      • content: Toscanini's significance as a superb artist and a key figure in the international arena is brilliantly captured in Harvey Sachs's absorbing biography Toscanini: Musician of Conscience. . . . [Sachs] paints a captivating portrait of the conductor, from his birth in Parma in 1867 to his final days in New York 89 years later. . . . [A] feast for those drawn to music, culture, and politics.
      • premium: False
      • source: David Hurwitz;Classics Today
      • content: What cannot be denied is the fact that this new biography constitutes a tremendous achievement for which both fans of the conductor and music lovers in general will be eternally grateful. . . Sach's new biography looks to be the most authoritative work on Toscanini that we are likely to see.
      • premium: False
      • source: Philip Borg-Wheeler;Classical Music
      • content: 'Sachs' own dedication to this force of nature has been fulfilled in a book which ranks among the best of 2017.
      • premium: False
      • source: James Levine
      • content: No other musician had as great an impact as Arturo Toscanini on the performance of opera and symphonic music in the twentieth century. With tremendous passion and stubbornness—and thanks to his extraordinary talents—he reshaped our ideas about what a conductor's goals should be and how to achieve them.
      • premium: False
      • source: Riccardo Muti
      • content: Sachs examines not only the artistic aspects but also the political, social, and private aspects of the man whom many consider the greatest conductor of his time. A reading of this biography helps us to understand this inflexible man, this musician who was so severe, also with himself, this conductor who represents a legend of the musical world, past and present.
      • premium: False
      • source: Plácido Domingo
      • content: Arturo Toscanini was a gigantic figure in the history of musical performance...Harvey Sachs' new biography is the most complete and involving story ever written about this amazing life.
      • premium: False
      • source: David I. Kertzer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Pope and Mussolini
      • content: Arturo Toscanini was not only one of the twentieth century's towering figures of classical music and opera, but an inspirational figure as the world-renowned Italian artist who stood up to fascism. In this monumental biography, Sachs artfully weaves together both of these stories, offering rich insight into music and politics across an extraordinary life.
      • premium: False
      • source: Francis Ford Coppola
      • content: Considering the great impact Arturo Toscanini had on my family—and certainly my father, Carmine...
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from January 23, 2017
        Sachs vibrantly and vividly narrates the sprawling tales of Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini’s passionate life, drawing on a treasure trove of newly available material: almost 1,500 letters, more than 100 tape recordings of Toscanini in conversation with his family and friends during the last years of his life, and archives of institutions with which Toscanini was deeply involved, such as La Scala and the Met. In exhaustive detail, Sachs begins with Toscanini’s birth in Parma in 1867 and energetically chronicles his student days; his marriage; his remaking of La Scala; his tenure at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera; his opposition to Mussolini; his years at the New York Philharmonic, Bayreuth, Paris, and Salzburg; and his death, just a few months before his 90th birthday. Toscanini emerges as a creative genius possessing an “extraordinary aural memory” that allowed him to recall pieces of music that he had heard but whose scores he had never seen. On tour with an opera company to São Paulo as assistant chorus master and principal cello when he was 19, Toscanini was thrust onto the conductor’s podium one evening when the crowd rejected the principal conductor; it was Toscanini’s remarkable debut. Sachs’s entertaining and definitive portrait of Toscanini reveals a passionate musician characterized by intense concentration, personal magnetism, generosity, and commitment to his country and his family.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2017
        The epic life and art of the famed Italian conductor.In his lifetime, Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) was considered the greatest conductor of all, and music historian Sachs (Curtis Institute of Music; The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824, 2010, etc.) makes a strong case for that assessment with judicious quotations from contemporary sources. They reveal an exacting taskmaster, feared for his brutal criticisms of singers and orchestra members, who could also be a gentle instructor and a steadfast support--if he felt they were working hard enough. He drove no one harder than himself: a musical prodigy from a family in straitened circumstances, Toscanini won admittance to Parma's prestigious Royal School of Music when he was 9 and conducted his first orchestra at 19. He gained early success in opera, serving as chief conductor of La Scala in Milan and then New York's Metropolitan Opera, but he achieved his broadest popular reach leading the NBC Symphony Orchestra's weekly radio broadcasts beginning in 1937. He awed performers and audiences by conducting without a score and was revered for his attention to detail and fidelity to the composer's intentions. Sachs creates a well-rounded portrait of this admirable artist and not entirely admirable man, noting that Toscanini proclaimed devotion to his wife while philandering well into his 70s. The biographer has nothing but admiration, however, for Toscanini's principled anti-fascism, which led him to leave La Scala and to refuse to continue at Bayreuth, where he was the first non-German conductor. The author also praises Toscanini in his prime as an advocate for new music and living composers; if the conductor's tastes grew more conservative over time, Sachs reminds us that this was part of a broader trend, as classical music and opera receded from the mainstream to rely on an established, mostly 19th-century canon. This minutely detailed chronicle of Toscanini's jam-packed life offers more than casual readers will want to know, but music lovers will savor every evocative word. Sweeping yet meticulous, appreciative without eschewing critical judgments--like Toscanini himself.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from February 1, 2017

        The 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.--Edward B. Cone, New York

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        May 1, 2017
        So much more about the great conductor Toscanini has been garnered since Sachs' famous 1978 biography that this one completely supplants it without, Sachs says, repeating one whole sentence from its predecessor. Such riches of resource conduce to 992 pages of incident and observation, recording seemingly every opera and concert, every composition, every soloist, vocal and instrumental, that the maestro guided in performance. The son of a struggling, hitherto-unmusical lower-middle-class family, Toscanini possessed an eidetic musical memory, and he conducted all rehearsals as well as public performances from memory. He began his conducting career at 19 and concluded 68 years later, having brought three great musical organizationsMilan's La Scala opera, New York's Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestrato peak performance quality and transformed the presentation of opera, in particular. He was the most famous Italian of his lifetime, so beloved that Mussolini dared not silence his ferocious anti-Fascism. And he was adulterous with many of the comeliest sopranos of the century. Historically minded classical-music lovers will revel in this accessible, exhaustive life chronicle.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Selection
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Economist and Kirkus Reviews

An "extraordinary" biography that "in its breadth . . . reminds me of nothing so much as Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker" (New York Review of Books).

Harvey Sachs's "monumental" (Alex Ross) biography recounts the sixty-eight-year career of conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867–1957), an artist celebrated for his fierce dedication, photographic memory, explosive temper, impassioned performances, and uncompromising work ethic. Toscanini collaborated with Verdi, Puccini, Debussy, and Richard Strauss; undertook major reforms at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera; and eventually pioneered the radio and television broadcasts of the NBC Symphony. His monumental achievements inspired generations, while his opposition to Nazism and fascism made him a model for artists of conscience. In this "persuasive...
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