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Published on Feb 11, 2010
A legendary conductor: Arturo Toscanini A legendary tenor: Jan Peerce And a shocking example of censorship.
In 1944, to honor the Allied victory in Italy, the great Arturo Toscanini--a refugee from Fascisim in his home country--decided to conduct a performance of Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations". "Hymn" is a composition that Verdi orginally built around the national anthems of Britain, France, and Italy. In order to honor all four of the major Allies, Toscanini decided to add "The Star Spangled Banner" for the U.S. and "The Internationale" for the Soviet Union. The music was performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra, with the Westminister Choir and the great tenor Jan Peerce as soloist; conducted by Toscanini.
In the early 50's, at the height of the Red Scare, censors removed the portion of this performance that featured the Internationale.
The great actor Burgess Meredith, who narrates the beginning of this program, was later on the Hollywood Blacklist.
For years this piece of film was considered lost. But in the 1980s the Library of Congress restored the censored clip, with its rousing rendition of "The Internationale". So enjoy the magnificent tenor voice of Jan Peerce, and the masterful conducting of Arturo Toscanini.