New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

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Ted Quanrud
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New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by Ted Quanrud » Tue Jun 27, 2017 5:27 am

There are some things about the great conductor I would rather not know.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/book ... ries-below

John F
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by John F » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:24 am

Gottlieb mentions, only in passing, that this is Harvey Sachs's second biography of Toscanini. The first, published in 1978, has ever since been the standard work on the subject, in English and as far as I know in any language. But as Gottlieb mentions, a mountain of additional documentary and other material has since become available, including Toscanini's letters (Sachs edited a selection in 2002), making a new biography essential and inevitable. Sachs was the man to write it, and now he has.

It's a monster, nearly 1,000 pages, but Toscanini's was a very long and eventful life. Gottlieb thinks Sachs provides too much detail, but I doubt I'll agree; otherwise his review is an outstanding piece of work, fully worthy of its subject, and the Times deserves praise for giving him the extra space for it. As for Toscanini's private life, not private any longer, those who've read Sachs's other books (especially the Toscanini letters) may not be as surprised and shocked as Ted, but there may be further revelations.

Thanks for posting this review; I've ordered my copy this morning.
Last edited by John F on Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:02 am

John F wrote:
Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:24 am
otherwise his review is an outstanding piece of work, fully worthy of its subject, and the Times deserves praise for giving him the extra space for it.
I read and learned quite a bit from this review and thank Ted for posting it! Regards, Len

maestrob
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by maestrob » Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:33 am

Well, I'm not either shocked or surprised. Toscanini was a force of nature, but still only a man. I'd heard many of these tales as rumors, and many more, so it's not surprising to have them confirmed.

Toscanini's repertoire was conservative; his reaction to Elektra upon hearing it was "Poor Strauss!." Mine too, for that matter. The Maestro was a man of his time, and music owes so much to him, a debt that is repaid nearly every time a great performance of a work gets the applause it deserves. Toscanini's principles of music-making shape our modern understanding even of composers the Maestro couldn't relate to, such as Mahler, Bruckner, or Shostakovich (even given Toscanini's famous radio broadcast of the latter's Seventh Symphony).

I look forward to this essential reference. Thanks, Ted, for alerting us to it.

John F
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by John F » Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:49 pm

maestrob wrote:
Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:33 am
Well, I'm not either shocked or surprised.
Sorry, I meant Ted ("Yikes!") Quanrud, not you. Sometimes the fingers get out of control. :)
maestrob wrote:Toscanini's repertoire was conservative; his reaction to Elektra upon hearing it was "Poor Strauss!"
Is that really so? Toscanini conducted "Salome" at La Scala in 1906 after long and personal negotiations with Strauss over the Italian premiere; in his first letter to Strauss about "Salome" he called it "your beautiful score." Strauss preempted Toscanini by conducting the premiere in Turin, Toscanini was furious at what he considered a personal betrayal, and he never conducted a Strauss opera again, though he kept the Dance of the Seven Veils in his concert repertoire. Sachs's Toscanini biography, the first one, contains no reference to "Elektra." So I wonder where the "Elektra" story comes from.

Toscanini conducted Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony as a gesture of wartime patriotism, and later called himself a fool for doing it. But he conducted the first symphony on four occasions with three different orchestras over 14 years, so he wasn't averse to all of Shostakovich's music.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:45 pm

maestrob wrote:
Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:33 am
his reaction to Elektra upon hearing it was "Poor Strauss!." Mine too, for that matter.
Brian I'm surprised by this-I love Elektra-one of my favorite Strauss's--even though the Met's new production was not quite to my liking--their older one was imo better. Regards, Len

THEHORN
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by THEHORN » Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:10 pm

In his later years when he conducted the NBC symphony , Toscanini's repertoire was rather limited and conservative, but in his earlier years he regularly conducted new works of many then contemporary composers , especially Italian composers who are pretty much forgotten today such as Giuseppe Martucci, whose music has been revived recently, at least on recordings .
Toscanini's overall repertoire was actually much wider than many people realize .

lennygoran
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:04 pm

THEHORN wrote:
Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:10 pm
especially Italian composers who are pretty much forgotten today such as Giuseppe Martucci, whose music has been revived recently, at least on recordings .
Bob never heard of him-he should have done some operas! Regards, Len

"He wrote no operas, which was unusual among Italian composers of his generation, but instead concentrated on instrumental music and songs, producing also an oratorio, Samuel."

Belle
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by Belle » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:04 pm

The story of Toscanini's philandering reminds me of Carlos Kleiber and I'm sure there are very many more, including Leonard Bernstein. It's a lack of respect for their wives that causes them to behave this way. And when the tackle isn't working any longer they go back to their wives!! Keeping the wives at home and not divorcing them is their insurance policy for that very day. If it's working for you, keep doing it!!!

lennygoran
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:18 pm

Belle wrote:
Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:04 pm
The story of Toscanini's philandering reminds me of Carlos Kleiber and I'm sure there are very many more, including Leonard Bernstein. It's a lack of respect for their wives that causes them to behave this way.
Belle wasn`t aware of any philandering--"Stanislava Brezovar (7 November 1937 – 18 December 2003), married name Kleiber, was a Slovenian ballerina. She was also known as Stanka Brezovar. Born in Zagorje ob Savi, Slovenia, she studied to be a Germanist, but her primary love was ballet. She studied ballet in Düsseldorf. It was there that she met and married the German-born conductor Carlos Kleiber."

Couldn't find anything on/line? Regards, Len

Belle
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by Belle » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:37 pm

It's all in Charles Barber's book. Kleiber had more affairs than I've had hot lunches!! Then I found this on a tribute to Lucia Popp, with whom he had a very serious love affair:

"In her daily life she could be as charming and above all she had a sense of humor. The way she described some of her less grand nights at the opera was full of self-depreciating irony and one can hear radio-audiences howl with laughter. A flirt too she was and she had the reputation of being somewhat ‘easy’. Everybody in the business knew that she had had a liaison with Carlos Kleiber (“Try to have that with a genius”, she afterwards mocked herself ) before returning for a short time to her husband. A famous hunter like Domingo once accompanied her to her Vienna-apartment and wouldn’t take his leave, hoping for more. She saved herself by starting to wash her dog. Her next important conquest after Kleiber was Peter Jonas, at that time manager of the Chicago Symphony and later of the English National Opera and the München Opera. By the end of 1977 she and her husband definitely separated and the consequences were far-reaching."

Notwithstanding what I said earlier, it cannot have been easy keeping "team Kleiber" running smoothly!! Stanislava deserves much credit.

lennygoran
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:41 pm

Thanks-go know! Regards, Len

Heck148
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by Heck148 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:48 am

Sexual/extra-marital affairs are nothing new to conductors...they are strong, powerful personalities, and many women find this attractive...

Reiner and Eugene Goosens had extra-marital affairs that cost them positions during their careers - Reiner[Cincinnati], Goosens [Sydney, Australia]

jserraglio
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:36 am

And Stokowski's enhanced his allure.
Conscience is that which hurts when everything else feels marvellous.

Belle
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by Belle » Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:21 pm

Heck148 wrote:
Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:48 am
Sexual/extra-marital affairs are nothing new to conductors...they are strong, powerful personalities, and many women find this attractive...

Reiner and Eugene Goosens had extra-marital affairs that cost them positions during their careers - Reiner[Cincinnati], Goosens [Sydney, Australia]
Goosens lost his career because he was found with 'pornograph material' in his luggage at Sydney airport; this was the consequence of his affair with a woman who was "into the occult".

We know that extra-marital affairs are 'nothing new' but in the case of Kleiber it was the sheer extent of this. It was said the Americans 'provided him with women' when we went on tour there. This comes from the documentary film "I am Lost to the World".

John F
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by John F » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:13 pm

I've had the new Sachs biography for a few weeks, and it's a magnum opus in every way. And while the print edition is nearly 900 pages long, plus indexes, there's even more to it than first appears. Sachs has also compiled a complete chronology of Toscanini's public performances, from 1886 to 1954, and a complete listing of his repertoire. These are not in the book but are online as "supplementary chapters":

https://www.scribd.com/document/3424508 ... s#download

You can read them online or download them as a PDF or a text file, as you prefer, for free.

There are some big surprises in Toscanini's repertoire. He was well known for his aversion to avant-garde modernism, so I was startled to find that he conducted the New York Philharmonic in two performances of Mossolov's "Iron Foundry" in 1933. That's as close to sheer noise as a standard orchestra can be made to sound. In the same program he included Alexander Veprik's 1927 composition "Dances and Songs of the Ghetto," which from his biography I expect is as Jewish as music can be.

http://www.musica-judaica.com/weprik_e.htm
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by Lance » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:53 am

I, too, am into the book now. Lots of reading, and of course, lots of surprises. It was interesting, also, reading about Carlos Kleiber. I had no idea! Where have I been because I have such an interest in the lives of performing artists of every kind.
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John F
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Re: New Toscanini biography -- Yikes!

Post by John F » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:18 am

As I work through Sachs's chronology of Toscanini performances I'm finding a few errors, mainly typographical, and some omissions. The most important: Sachs does not include Toscanini's many recording sessions, from 1921 to 1954. These are performances too, and need to be put in the context of his concerts and broadcasts of the same music. But unless you insert them yourself in Sachs's chronology - easy enough to do if you have the information and download the chronology as a text file - you can't see Toscanini's career whole.
John Francis

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