Masterly on the podium, full of private despair: the maestro's passionate inner life.
Toscanini (1867-1957) was one of the most celebrated conductors in musical history. With his photographic memory and amazing ear he raised the standards of orchestras and opera ensembles to previously undreamed-of heights. He conducted the world premieres of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Puccini's La Boheme and Turandot. Yet he never wrote a memoir or granted interviews. Now we are brought close to him in 700 letters, the vast majority of them previously unpublished. There is fascinating correspondence with his wife and children, but he writes about his tempestuous affairs and erotic adventures with equal fascination. And he writes with particular vehemence about his opposition to Fascism, Nazism, and Mussolini: 'you won't find [anyone] who is more of a delinquent, more of a criminal than that ignoble animal!' Vivid and impassioned, the letters reveal the depth of his musical knowledge and insight, and shed enormous light on the musical life of his time.