Arturo Toscanini conducts Wagner

NBC Symphony Orchestra

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Arturo Toscanini — Conductor

Jan Peerce — Tenor

NBC Symphony Orchestra

Westminster College Choir

Program notes

Fifty years after his death, Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) remains a legendary figure of conducting. For the Italian Maestro, Wagner always held a special status: he inaugurated his first appointment at La Scala in 1898 with Die Meistersinger and made his final public appearance in 1954 with an all-Wagner program.

The anti-fascist conductor's affinity for his music was such that he was even asked by Hitler to the lead the Bayreuth Festival, founded by Wagner himself. Toscanini promptly refused and never returned to the Festival, illustrating one of his mottos: "Be democrats in life but aristocrats in art."

This program gathers the best of Toscanini's Wagner performances filmed by NBC television between 1948 and 1951 with restored sound and image. The concert is preceded by a short presentation on Toscanini and his relationship to Wagner.

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