1989 25c Performing Arts: Arturo Toscanini

# 2411 - 1989 25c Performing Arts: Arturo Toscanini

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U.S. #2411
1989 25¢ Arturo Toscanini
Performing Arts

  • Issued on Toscanini’s 122nd birthday at Carnegie Hall, where he conducted
  • 11th stamp in Performing Arts Series
  • Toscanini was the most famous orchestra conductor of his era 

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Series: 
Performing Arts
Value: 
25¢, first-class
First Day of Issue: 
March 25, 1989
First Day City: 
New York City, New York
Quantity Issued: 
152,250,000
Printed by: 
American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: 
Photogravure
Format: 
Panes of 50 in sheets of 200
Perforations:  11

 

Why the stamp was issued:  Photographer and former record librarian for RCA Victor Robert Hupka spent 22 years campaigning for this stamp.  He had taken about 1,500 photos of Toscanini in the 1940s, several of which were featured on record sleeves.  In 1967, the Italian post office asked Hupka if they could use one of his photos on a stamp honoring Toscanini’s 100th birthday.  He gave them permission, but the final stamp design had added a hand that wasn’t Toscanini’s and Hupka didn’t like that.  However, it inspired him to push the USPS to issue a stamp honoring the legendary conductor.  His initial request was turned down.  He then asked Vice President Hubert Humphrey, whom he’d met at the New York World’s Fair.  Hupka continued to send suggestions to the USPS and speak out about his proposal.  He even mocked up his own design with his favorite photo.  Then in 1987, the USPS contacted him Hupka to let him know a Toscanini stamp was finally being made.  They asked for a few photos from which an artist could create a painting and he gladly obliged.  

 

About the stamp design:  Jim Sharpe, who’d designed all the previous Performing Arts stamps, painted this stamp from Hupka’s favorite photo.  It was a candid shot of Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on March 4, 1947. 

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, in New York City, New York.  Both the US and Italian national anthems were performed at the start of the ceremony.

 

About the Performing Arts Series:  The Performing Arts series ran from 1978 to 1987 and honored 12 performers of stage and screen including musicians and actors.  Each stamp features a portrait of the performer.  Several stamps include a second smaller image of the performer or other elements representative of their careers.  Click here for the complete set.

 

History the stamp represents:  Conductor Arturo Toscanini was born on March 25, 1867, in Parma, Italy.

Talented from a young age, Toscanini earned a scholarship to the local music conservatory where he studied cello. Then in 1886 he joined the orchestra of a touring opera company.

At just 19 years old, Toscanini made his conducting debut with this company while touring South America. At the time, the local conductor leading the orchestra was embroiled in a feud with the performers because he didn’t properly grasp the music. The singers threatened to strike, leading their manager to look for a new conductor. Two other men attempted the job but failed. Then the singers suggested Toscanini, who had been working as assistant chorus master. He had no conducting experience, but knew the whole opera by heart. So on June 25, 1886, Toscanini conducted the two-and-a-half hour Aida opera from memory.

Toscanini stunned the audience. They were surprised that he was so young and did such a masterful job in conducting the opera from memory. He gained instant fame and continued to conduct for the rest of the tour – another 18 operas.

When the tour was over Toscanini returned to Italy and continued to conduct and play cello. Among these performances were the premiere of the revised Edmea, which he conducted, and the premiere of Otello, in which he played cello. Over time, Toscanini’s skill as a conductor outshined his work as a cellist and it became his primary focus. He conducted additional world premieres, including Puccini’s La bohème and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Toscanini conducted his first symphony in 1896, presenting the works of Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner.

Beginning in 1898, Toscanini was made Principal Conductor at La Scala, a position he held for ten years. He would later return to La Scala as Music Director. Beginning in 1908, Toscanini began conducting in America at the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. He also toured Europe with the New York Philharmonic in 1930. During that tour Toscanini became the first non-German conductor to appear at the Bayreuth Theatre.

Back in Italy, Toscanini soon ran into trouble. Though Fascist leader Benito Mussolini called him “the greatest conductor in the world,” Toscanini didn’t agree with his politics. Then in 1931 Toscanini refused to play the Fascist anthem Giovinezza at a concert. He was attacked after the performance by a group of Fascist Blackshirts. Mussolini then placed him under surveillance, tapped his phone, and confiscated his passport. Once the public learned of this treatment, his passport was returned. Toscanini then left Italy until after World War II.

In 1937 Toscanini returned to America where the NBC Symphony Orchestra was created for him. He conducted his first NBC broadcast on December 25 of that year. The following year he conducted two world premiers of works by Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings and Essay for Orchestra. Toscanini conducted several other American works including Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, George Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue plus marches by John Philip Sousa.

Toscanini retired when he was 87 and spent his final years reviewing and editing his recordings. He died two years later, on January 16, 1957, in New York City. His epitaph includes a 1926 quote of his “Here the opera ends, because at this point the maestro has died.”

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U.S. #2411
1989 25¢ Arturo Toscanini
Performing Arts

  • Issued on Toscanini’s 122nd birthday at Carnegie Hall, where he conducted
  • 11th stamp in Performing Arts Series
  • Toscanini was the most famous orchestra conductor of his era 

Stamp Category:  Commemorative
Series: 
Performing Arts
Value: 
25¢, first-class
First Day of Issue: 
March 25, 1989
First Day City: 
New York City, New York
Quantity Issued: 
152,250,000
Printed by: 
American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: 
Photogravure
Format: 
Panes of 50 in sheets of 200
Perforations:  11

 

Why the stamp was issued:  Photographer and former record librarian for RCA Victor Robert Hupka spent 22 years campaigning for this stamp.  He had taken about 1,500 photos of Toscanini in the 1940s, several of which were featured on record sleeves.  In 1967, the Italian post office asked Hupka if they could use one of his photos on a stamp honoring Toscanini’s 100th birthday.  He gave them permission, but the final stamp design had added a hand that wasn’t Toscanini’s and Hupka didn’t like that.  However, it inspired him to push the USPS to issue a stamp honoring the legendary conductor.  His initial request was turned down.  He then asked Vice President Hubert Humphrey, whom he’d met at the New York World’s Fair.  Hupka continued to send suggestions to the USPS and speak out about his proposal.  He even mocked up his own design with his favorite photo.  Then in 1987, the USPS contacted him Hupka to let him know a Toscanini stamp was finally being made.  They asked for a few photos from which an artist could create a painting and he gladly obliged.  

 

About the stamp design:  Jim Sharpe, who’d designed all the previous Performing Arts stamps, painted this stamp from Hupka’s favorite photo.  It was a candid shot of Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on March 4, 1947. 

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, in New York City, New York.  Both the US and Italian national anthems were performed at the start of the ceremony.

 

About the Performing Arts Series:  The Performing Arts series ran from 1978 to 1987 and honored 12 performers of stage and screen including musicians and actors.  Each stamp features a portrait of the performer.  Several stamps include a second smaller image of the performer or other elements representative of their careers.  Click here for the complete set.

 

History the stamp represents:  Conductor Arturo Toscanini was born on March 25, 1867, in Parma, Italy.

Talented from a young age, Toscanini earned a scholarship to the local music conservatory where he studied cello. Then in 1886 he joined the orchestra of a touring opera company.

At just 19 years old, Toscanini made his conducting debut with this company while touring South America. At the time, the local conductor leading the orchestra was embroiled in a feud with the performers because he didn’t properly grasp the music. The singers threatened to strike, leading their manager to look for a new conductor. Two other men attempted the job but failed. Then the singers suggested Toscanini, who had been working as assistant chorus master. He had no conducting experience, but knew the whole opera by heart. So on June 25, 1886, Toscanini conducted the two-and-a-half hour Aida opera from memory.

Toscanini stunned the audience. They were surprised that he was so young and did such a masterful job in conducting the opera from memory. He gained instant fame and continued to conduct for the rest of the tour – another 18 operas.

When the tour was over Toscanini returned to Italy and continued to conduct and play cello. Among these performances were the premiere of the revised Edmea, which he conducted, and the premiere of Otello, in which he played cello. Over time, Toscanini’s skill as a conductor outshined his work as a cellist and it became his primary focus. He conducted additional world premieres, including Puccini’s La bohème and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Toscanini conducted his first symphony in 1896, presenting the works of Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner.

Beginning in 1898, Toscanini was made Principal Conductor at La Scala, a position he held for ten years. He would later return to La Scala as Music Director. Beginning in 1908, Toscanini began conducting in America at the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. He also toured Europe with the New York Philharmonic in 1930. During that tour Toscanini became the first non-German conductor to appear at the Bayreuth Theatre.

Back in Italy, Toscanini soon ran into trouble. Though Fascist leader Benito Mussolini called him “the greatest conductor in the world,” Toscanini didn’t agree with his politics. Then in 1931 Toscanini refused to play the Fascist anthem Giovinezza at a concert. He was attacked after the performance by a group of Fascist Blackshirts. Mussolini then placed him under surveillance, tapped his phone, and confiscated his passport. Once the public learned of this treatment, his passport was returned. Toscanini then left Italy until after World War II.

In 1937 Toscanini returned to America where the NBC Symphony Orchestra was created for him. He conducted his first NBC broadcast on December 25 of that year. The following year he conducted two world premiers of works by Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings and Essay for Orchestra. Toscanini conducted several other American works including Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, George Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue plus marches by John Philip Sousa.

Toscanini retired when he was 87 and spent his final years reviewing and editing his recordings. He died two years later, on January 16, 1957, in New York City. His epitaph includes a 1926 quote of his “Here the opera ends, because at this point the maestro has died.”