Thursday, March 17, 2011


Much as I love all the affirmation anthems in the final movement, I've always preferred the thunder and lightning of the first movement.

I've always been fond of Toscanini's quick-march interpretations of Beethoven, especially this.

I remember when I was very small, my father had an LP of Toscanini performing this symphony with the NBC orchestra. Sometimes, he would lie on the couch on a Saturday afternoon and crank this up full volume on the hi-fi, which sounded pretty loud in a small 1950s rental house in Dallas.


Unknown said...

I've never seen a picture of him! Cool! I love this version, but have never heard it before seeing (and hearing) this. Did you get it from a Japanese source (I noticed the translations at the bottom)?

Counterlight said...

I stumbled upon this while searching through YouTube. Amazing how the internet makes old things new again.
Among the soloists on the LP that my father owned were Schwarzkopf and Gedda.
Dad would have loved YouTube. I'm sure he never saw this.

kishnevi said...

I have about 6 complete cycles, including Toscanini, and 8 individual recordings of the 9th--which probably makes it the piece of which I own the most different versions. The only competitors would the Mahler Second and the Brandenburg Concertos.

There are several Toscanini recordings available, because he performed relatively frequently and did it several times for NBC broadcasts; the set I have includes a 1950s performance with Jan Peerce as the tenor, so your father must have had one of the other versions. Schwarzfkopf is the soprano for one of the other recordings, conducted by Furtwangler at the official re-opening of the Bayreuth festival after WWII, often cited as one of the best recordings of the Ninth ever, and certainly one of the most famous ones.

However, I'd suggest getting the recordings by Gardiner or Paavo Jarvi -- approaches similar to Toscanini, but recorded in modern sound--and the difference is quite audible. Gardiners is a HIP performance; Jarvi is simply HIP influenced.

And for the extreme opposite approach there's the slow-fest conducted by Karl Bohm, which just manages to fit onto a standard CD (79 minutes compared to Toscanini's 63 or 64 minutes). Supposedly, the inventors of the CD chose 80 minutes as the limit of CD length to accomodate that and similar performances. Jessye Norman and Placido Domingo were among the singers in that one.

As you might suspect, all the above appear in the list of recordings I own.

Counterlight said...

Now that I think about it, I'm probably confusing old records here. I remember that Dad had a recording of Strauss' Die Fliedermaus that starred Schwartzkopf. That record too is long gone, but there is a CD reissue of it out, which I bought for him before he died, and I have since inherited.
There were a lot of different Toscanini recordings of Beethoven's 9th and which one he owned exactly I'm not sure. I certainly remember the LP cover, but I doubt that would mean much.

kishnevi said...

Here's a list (not necessarily complete) of available recordings. The set I have is listed as no. 6; the very last entry on the last is simply the same performance as an individual release.

It would seem Toscanini recorded it twice with Peerce, but never with Schwarzkopf, and the listings for Schwarzkopf are consistent with that.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

My Grandfather used to call him Toscadudu - in jest of course...

Ni in Swedish is You and Du is Thou ;-)