Flipping Book | Toscanini | Salini Impregilo Library

much to a modern world. Toscanini put a microscope on each score he con- ducted. His fidelity to the score was famous. He had tremendous class, even in the way he dressed, tremendous taste. He came along at a time when orchestras had developed a lot of bad habits, the use of portamento had gone to an extreme, and “tradition” was a catch-all for sloppiness and cheap effects. He had an important role in simplifying things, in making conductors really look at what is written in the score, and encouraging them to become the most ardent disciples of the composer. It was religion for him. Toscanini redefines the notion of pulse. He gives it an incredible, life-enhancing energy: it’s so real, so wonder- fully palpable in so much repertoire. As to howwe conductors should viewToscanini today, I think that to be confront- ed with such directness is a challenge. We’re all looking to be different, searching for ways in which we can express our own personalities; but to be faced with a directness, a clarity of expression and delivery like Toscanini’s, is like a gauntlet thrown down to us. His music-making is still relevant. If one has ideas, they have to be clear to one's audience; the ideas crafted so that the audience can receive them clearly. The template for “ideas” being, of course, the score. Fidelity to the score above all. How interesting to listen to those late recordings of his—as performances in general were getting slower, he was getting faster! The first thing that people mention about any Italian conductor is his lyrical quality, but there is far more to Toscanini. The way we perceive him has to do with propulsion, forward motion. Music that has very long paragraphs is performed in a way that always moves forward, the direction of the phrases is always fluid. That sense of fluidity can be all the greater from a Latin temperament because of the natural fluidity of the Romance languages and their inevitable relationship to music and to the “home team” musicians. I am of Italian heritage, the chal- lenge for me is to give warmth and generosity of sound and still keep this strong life-pulse. Toscanini has pointed the way for us. The octogenarianArturo Toscanini, circa 1950, described himself to a young col- league “They say I’ve always been the same. That’s the most foolish thing that’s ever been uttered about me. I’ve never been the same, not even from one day to the next. I’ve known it even if others haven’t.” The statement could serve as an appropriate introduction to a reevaluation of Toscanini’s gigantic position in the history of musical performance. Toscanini had a rather amazing life: born in the provincial town of Parma, Italy, when Rossini and Berlioz were still alive, when Verdi had just completed Don Carlos , when Wagner was working on Die Meistersinger and Brahms was wor- king on his Deutsches Requiem , and when Elgar, Puccini, Mahler, Debussy, 18

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