Article Title

Toscanini at The End


Lee Alperin


Arturo Toscanini, Jussi Bjorling, NBC Symphony


In 1954 Arturo Toscanini (1873-1957) chose to include Verdi's A Masked Ball in his NBC Symphony radio broadcasts. For solists, the 87-year-old maestro had in the past few years been relying on a familiar troop of singers: Herva Nelli, Licia Albanese, Giuseppe Valdengo, Jan Peerce, Nicola Moscona, and Robert Merrill, among others. Besides providing Toscanini with a set of able-bodied voices these brave-hearts also accommodated blow-ups. Toscanini himself wanted no superstars; by now he was inclined to consider a singer as simply another instrument of the orchestra. Thus it Might have come as a surprise to Samuel Chotzinoff (Toscanini's liaison to NBC) when the aging conductor asked him to obtain Jussi Bjorling for the role of Riccardo"... caro ... I pray you to engage for Un ballo Bjorling. I pray you..."

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