Changes in the public perception of performing artists make for fascinating study. There once was a time when the Three Tenors were considered mere mortals. And there was a time when a conductor, Arturo Toscanini, was considered the living embodiment of the composers whose music he performed. Largely through the efforts of the press and the National Broadcasting Company, Toscanini came to be known as the only musician with the integrity and modesty to perform a composition exactly as it was notated in the musical score. Thanks to the existence of recorded performances, as well as the reminiscences of some of his colleagues, many people no realize that Toscanini's reputation for absolutely literal fidelity to the printed score was largely a media creation. Still, for a segment of the music-loving public the name Arturo Toscanini continues to call to mind the lofty pursuit of textual fidelity.

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Copyright © 2003 Conductors Guild. This article first appeared in Journal of the Conductors Guild 24:1-2 (2003), 49-60.

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