Laterally Inverted

Life Image

Kaplan Collection

Known Images

The Ears

Kaplan Collection

Known Images




He joined the orchestra of an opera company, with which he toured South America in 1886. While presenting Aida in Rio de Janeiro on June 25, Leopoldo Miguez, the locally hired conductor, reached the summit of a two-month escalating conflict with the performers due to his rather poor command of the work, to the point that the singers went on strike and forced the company’s general manager to seek a substitute conductor. Carlo Superti and Aristide Venturi tried unsuccessfully to finish the work. In desperation, the singers suggested the name of their assistant Chorus Master, who knew the whole opera from memory. Although he had no conducting experience, Toscanini was eventually persuaded by the musicians to take up the baton at 9:15 pm, and led a performance of the two-and-a-half hour opera, completely from memory. The public was taken by surprise, at first by the youth and sheer aplomb of this unknown conductor, then by his solid mastery. The result was astounding acclaim. For the rest of that season, Toscanini conducted eighteen operas, all with absolute success. Thus began his career as a conductor, at age 19.*


It is likely that this tintype was made in Rio de Janeiro in 1886 in commemoration of his debut as a conductor.


The little curls at the ends of his mustache close the case for me. I thought he was Toscanini before I saw those little curls.


Toscanini was the most acclaimed musician of the late 19th Century, and the entire 20th Century.


We see very young man with awesome head hair. Hard to believe. Toscanini, age 19, in Rio. Who could believe it?


My overall impression of this image is that of a clear thinking and focused young professional man who is factual, and exact.


At the middle of the upper lip, directly beneath the nasal septum, we can clearly see skin color beneath the trim mustache, an identical or very close indication in nearly all his known photographic images.


The ear is as good as I have ever seen.


He is a little fellow, well proportioned, compact, a small frame, small chest.


His posture and lay of his suit-coat is identical throughout his lifetime.


He wore vests.


The side-burn is perfect, essentially no change later in life.


He liked wing collar shirts. In this, his earliest known image, we see a modification of that later style. This collar appears to me to be too small. His oversize bow tie covers what could easily be a lack of cotton cloth needed for a proper wing collar, or even a proper variation of the style of which there were several. What we see is not a proper wing collar.


Before researching Toscanini, I knew that he was a celebrated Italian musical conductor. I did not know that he was a Jew.


The Romans, from earliest times, paid homage to the Greeks and Jews. And, from those earliest days the Jews of Rome were integrated into the fabric of Roman society, and remained so until the Holocaust came to Italy. In Rome, under the very windows of the Vatican, Jews were brutally abducted off the street, then thrown into cattle freight cars whose destination was Auschwitz. Toscanini is a shining example of this distinguished community. Another great man of this community whose name comes to mind is, Primo Levi.




“To Strauss the composer I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it back on again.”

Arturo Toscanini




* Wikipedia