Did you know...
Arturo Toscanini was considered one of the most famous conductors in the world. In 1919, he met Mussolini after the would-be dictator marched in Rome, but he was not impressed. He feared Mussolini's Fascism earlier than others. Mussolini ruled that the song "Giovinezza" was the party anthem, to be played during concerts, but Toscanini refused during one performance at la scala causing him to smash his baton and leave the stage - that enabled him to escape the Fascist strangle-hold, so he came to America, serving as a conductor for the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.
In 1931, he went back to Italy, but his position would have personal repercussions because Mussolini wrote into law that Giovinezza had to be played at public events. When the sixty-four your old conductor refused to play the anthem for a concert in Bologna, the Fascist surrounded and attacked him outside the theatre, punching him in the face and neck. Life became intolerable for Toscanini, whose phone was tapped and monitored by the secret police. He had another opportunity to live and work in America.
From 1937 to 1954, he worked on radio and television and he was the Maestro of the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Toscanini settled permanently in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. On July 25, 1943, an announcement interrupted one of his NBC broadcast concerts: Mussolini had been overthrown. Toscanini clasped his hands and looked to the heavens -