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Toscanini: The Maestro / Verdi - Hymn of the Nations


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Product Details

  • Actors: Arturo Toscanini, Jan Peerce, Giuseppe Verdi, Robert Merrill, Licia Albanese
  • Directors: Peter Rosen
  • Format: Classical, Color, Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Peter Rosen Productions, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: March 9, 2004
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00017HWLW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,266 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Arthur R. Krieck on March 9, 2004
This DVD/CD combination contains a transfer of the 1987 documentary film for television, "Toscanini: The Maestro", a performance of Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" from a 1943 film made for the Office of War Information, and a CD compliation/sampler of some of Toscanini's commercial sudio recordings of his core repertoire.

The transfers of both the documentary film and the film of the Verdi cantata, a real potboiler but very effective, are quite good. This is listed as a "complete" performance of the cantata, taken from the film, but it is not. For some reason it omits the singing of the "Internationale", which Toscanini added to the end of the cantata, along with the "Star Spangled Banner", so all of the Allies could be represented. I saw a screening of this film, with its wartime narration, at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City in, I believe, the late 1960s (quite a revelation for a young musician who had never seen Toscanini conduct before!) and the "Internationale" was indeed included in that presentation. So the cuts cannot have originated from 1950s Cold War government censorship. It would be interesting to find out the reasons for the cut in the present DVD edition.

The documentary also contains many excerpts from various NBC Symphony telecasts. These excerpts, prepared for the documentary film, were made previous to those released during the 1990s in the Toscanini Collection, on VHS and laserdisc and are taken from inferior and unenhanced sources to those used for the later releases. As a result the video and audio quality in these excerpts is quite poor, though they are still wonderful to watch, as are the home movies and photographs taken from the family archives and other sources.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By pm444 on April 28, 2004
This DVD offers a wonderful documentary of Toscanini's life and shows why he was the most influential conductor of the 20th century. As noted by the previous reviewer, the video quality is not what it could be if it were remastered using techniques that were not available in 1985, which was when the documentary was made.
Furthermore, as the same reviewer noted, the "Internationale" is indeed missing from the supposedly "complete" recording of the "Inno delle Nazioni" which was made in 1943 for the US Office of War Information. The documentary itself contains the same recording of the "Inno" that is included as a separate track on the DVD and both have the same cut. The "Internationale" and the "Star Spangled Banner" were added by Toscanini to Verdi's original composition in order to include all of the Allies. The cut in this recording comes at the end of Verdi's score and is noticeable.
The performance is still very powerful; Toscanini can be seen singing along with the various national anthems, but when the Italian anthem begins, his whole demeanor becomes even more fervent and animated. This performance of unadulterated patriotism reminds me of the scene in "Casablanca" where all the non-Germans in Rick's Cafe join in the singing of the "Marseillaise".
But none of this answers the question of the missing "Internationale". That it was a part of the original recording is proven by the fact that the "Inno" is performed without any cuts in the audio CD (volume 63) of BMG's 1990 "Arturo Toscanini Collection".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Classical Curiosities on June 19, 2006
Past reviewers were right on the ball to complain that this release of Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" is truncated, with the elimination of the Russian "Internationale." Actually, I find this a rather passionate little tune, but that is another matter . . . Remember how it was used in the film "REDS"?

Anyway, if you want a complete DVD version of the "Hymn," it is available on a 2-DVD set called "Battles of Reverence," released by Triton Media. Unfortunately, I think it is now out of print, but you can find it through Amazon. This set features two WW II vintage movies on Disc 1, and some odd items on disc 2, with a complete "Hymn of the Nations." The quality isn't great, but seeing it again for the first time in years brought tears to my eyes.

On another note, the original version of "Hymn of the Nations" is available on at least two CDs I know of, the better of the two being Luciano Pavarotti (that's right!)on a CD called "Pavarotti Plus!" Quite a different ending. The other CD is, I think, a Canadian release. Volume 63 of the complete Toscanini on RCA (also out of print) has the complete Toscanini version--audio, but no video.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annie Van Auken TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 7, 2009
TOSCANINI THE MAESTRO was presented in 1987 on the PBS series GREAT PERFORMANCES.

The name "Toscanini" translates as "babies from Tuscan, Italy."

Born in March 1867, Arturo Toscanini studied cello as a youth. In 1886 he toured South America with an opera company and at age 19 was named its orchestral conductor. Once back in Italy, Toscanini returned to the string section for the La Scala world premiere of Verdi's OTELLO. The composer himself was impressed with this young cellist's interpretive skills, eye for arrangement detail and memory. Soon enough Arturo left playing behind and conducted full time all over Europe.

In America he led New York's Metropolitan Opera (1908-1915), also the New York Philharmonic for ten seasons, beginning in 1926.

Toscanini's long-standing hatred of dictator Benito Mussolini led to his self-exile (1931-38). The NBC Symphony Orchestra was created for him in 1937 and he regularly broadcast on radio and then TV, beginning in 1948. This association ended in '54 with an all-Wagner Carnegie Hall show. The maestro spent his last years editing broadcast tapes and in 1957 died after a stroke in Bronx, NY at age 89. His remains were sent to Milan, Italy for interment.

PROGRAM CONTENTS--
Narrated by Akexander Scourby and hosted by James Levine, musical director of Metropolitan Opera.
Archive footage of Vladimir Horowitz, Andrés Segovia
MUSICAL EXCERPTS:
Verdi - Overture to La Forza del Destino (195?)
Wagner - Liebestad, Tristan und Isolde (NBC Sym, 1951)
Brahms - Symphony #1 in C minor (NBC Sym, 1951)
Verdi - Overture to La Forza..
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