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Toscanini Mini-Festival

Theatrical Concert with the Escher String Quartet; Documentary preview presented by Walfredo Toscanini and Harvey Sachs; Organized by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century

Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini

Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC) presents innovative chamber music concerts which combine chamber and vocal music with an interweaving of letters, memoirs, diaries, poems, and historical material. ERC celebrates its eighth season by examining the lives of exiled artists in a three part concert series entitled “Artists in Exile”. The first event of the series is a Toscanini mini-festival that includes the theatrical concert, Toscanini: Nel mio cuore troppo di assoluto (Toscanini: too much of the absolute in my heart), a seminar, and a film preview. These programs examine the life of the legendary conductor, with particular emphasis on the period just before, during, and after World War II.

Theatrical Concert: Toscanini : Nel mio cuore troppo di assoluto (Too much of the absolute in my heart)

Ensemble for the Romantic Century (in partnership with the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University) presents Toscanini, Too much of the absolute in my heart, a theatrical concert based on the letters of Arturo Toscanini with the music of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Guido Alberto Fano, Aldo Finzi, Verdi, Respighi, Martucci, Wagner and Gershwin.

Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957), the most celebrated conductor in history, was admired also for his opposition to Fascism and Nazism. His clashes with Mussolini and Hitler and his trips to Palestine to conduct an orchestra made up of Jewish refugees from Europe showed the world that artists can raise their voices against totalitarianism. During World War II he lived in exile in the United States, gave benefit concerts to further the war effort, and assisted other musicians to immigrate and find work. “Toscanini, Nel mio cuore troppo di assoluto”, is based mainly on the hundreds of passionate letters Toscanini wrote to his lover Ada Mainardi during the 1930's, in which he discussed political, artistic, and personal matters, and on his letters to Mussolini, Hitler, Roosevelt, and others. They reveal the thoughts of an artist who had the courage to say no to the tyrants of his time. “Toscanini” will feature music by younger contemporaries of Toscanini who were forced to flee Italy as well as works by Verdi and Respighi and will incorporate some of the historical recordings of Toscanini in rehearsal and concert.

John Hellweg as Arturo Toscanini
Written by Eve Wolf and directed by Donald T. Sanders
Production and Costume Design by Vanessa James
The Escher String Quartet: Adam Barnett-Hart, Violin; Wu Jie, Violin; Pierre Lapointe, Viola; Andrew Janss, Cello;
C J Camerieri, trumpet; Eve Wolf, piano
Pre-concert lecturer Harvey Sachs, author of Toscanini, editor and translator of The Letters of Arturo Toscanini

Eve Wolf & Max Barros ERC Artistic Directors, James Melo, ERC musicologist

Event Date 
Wed, Jan 21, 2009, 7:00 pm to Thu, Jan 22, 2009, 7:00 pm
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