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Toscanini: Musician of Conscience

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9781631494901: Toscanini: Musician of Conscience
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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 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. 80 photographs

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About the Author:

Harvey Sachs is the author or coauthor of ten books and has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Times Literary Supplement, among others. He lives in New York, and is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Review:

“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.”
- Tim Page, New York Review of Books

“[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.”
- Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“Without doubt the most engaging, the best-written and certainly the most comprehensive Toscanini yet to be published.”
- Rob Cowan, Gramophone

“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.”
- David Denby, The New Yorker

“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.”
- Robert Gottlieb, New York Times Book Review

“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.”
- Jonathan Rosenberg, Christian Science Monitor

“As a study of the life and times of one of the greatest conductors of all time, this book will not soon be bettered.”
- Economist

“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.”
- David Hurwitz, Classics Today

“'Sachs’ own dedication to this force of nature has been fulfilled in a book which ranks among the best of 2017.”
- Philip Borg-Wheeler, Classical Music

“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.”
- James Levine

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Da Cap..., 1981
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