AGITATO: A Trek through the Musical Jungle by Jerome S. Toobin

AGITATO: A Trek through the Musical Jungle

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A memoir of Toobin's nine difficult years of trying to keep together Toscanini's NBC Symphony of the Air after the Maestro retired. New York deserved two major orchestras, Toobin thought. But keeping Toscanini's marvelously skillful musicians together was almost impossible. The group concerts rarely made enough money to pull it out of deep debt, and its various benefactors turned out to be musical boneheads or self-deluded paranoids. Those tales are great with ego after giant ego, the largest being Toscanini's own. Toobin races about like a frenzied hotel manager, trying to assuage the psychic wounds of Leonard Bernstein, Bruno Walter, Fritz Reiner, Horowitz' wife Wanda, Sir Thomas Beecham, Callas, and looming over all, Leopold Stokowski (""Sta-kuff-ski -- there are no cows in my name""). Among his most agitated moments were his hiring of both Walter and Reiner to conduct the Eroica for the same Toscanini memorial concert, and a long meeting with Callas during which he flatters her with whipped-cream compliments as fast as he can spray them over her divine being. Archly amusing at moments; not consistently funny or entertaining.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1975
Publisher: Viking