Today's Classical Music Video

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Toscanini Conducts Beethoven

This is a classic performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 conducted by Toscanini. We are fortunate that toward the end of his life some of Toscanini's performances were telecast, in the early days of television. We can hear the way Toscanini galvanized an orchestra on his audio recordings but the video allows us to see what he did to produce those results. In fact, his stick technique was very basic and correct. The force of his personality really came from his face and his presence. And, of course, through the intensity of his rehearsals.

This performance was given on March 22, 1952 in Carnegie Hall. Most of Toscanini's concerts with the NBC Symphony in that period were given in Studio 8-H, an NBC studio notorious for its dry acoustics. In Carnegie Hall, one of the best music venues in the world, one has a chance to appreciate the sound Toscanini really wanted from an orchestra. It wasn't dry and clinical as it seemed in 8-H but warm and expressive but still incisive. Incidentally, Studio 8-H survives to this day as the place where the late night David Letterman show is produced.

Paul E. Robinson

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