December 1, 2021

Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, April 3, 1948

From the YouTube channel Free the Kinescopes, it's a televised performance by Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra, with the Robert Shaw Chorale, in a live broadcast from April 3, 1948. On the program: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. 

There are a number of things to note, besides the now-unthinkable idea that a television network would actually have its own symphony orchestra, led by one of the world's most famous conductors. For one, the broadcast comes from NBC's famed Studio 8-H in New York City (now home to Saturday Night Live), which makes for a very intimate setting, with the small audience right on top of the action. 

Given its beginnings as a radio orchestra (it was founded in 1937), it's no surprise that announcer Ben Grauer, although he appears on camera, functions essentially as he would if this were a radio broadcast, standing in front of a microphone and reading from his script. Not too fancy, perhaps, but certainly effective.

And note as well how Maestro Toscanini, though he was one of the most famous (and intimidating) conductors of his era, has to wait until Grauer has finished his introduction before launching into the downbeat. Even then, television called the shots.


No comments

Post a Comment

Thanks for writing! Drive safely!