Anonymous yet personal, this Blog chronicles
the daily events and musings of Jim.
It provides an easy way for his friends and family to check in on him,
and serves as a online repository for his random
thoughts, kaleidoscopic flashbacks, and writings on an array of diverse topics.
“Deconstructing Jim” is simply here to
entertain you, but not intended for college credit.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009


1) A world famous ice cream shop in Central Square, Cambridge Mass. The New York Times has written that Toscanini's is where you can get the "world's best ice cream."

2) An acclaimed Italian conductor known for his volatile temperament, perfectionism, a fine musical ear, and remarkable photographic memory.

I recently viewed the docu-drama by Larry Weinstein about his life. It's titled Toscanini in His Own Words (2008). The movie is based on 150 hours of recorded conversations that Toscanini shared with his friends and family. His son Walter secretly made these recordings in the final years of the conductor's life, and they became the source document for this interesting movie. It also includes a significant amount of historic footage related to the actual conductors' life.

In the movie adaptation, Toscanini speaks of composer Alfredo Catalani, who he regards as one of the finest composers who ever lived - more important than Puccini, who according to Toscanini, was an egotistical hack.

“He [Catalani] was a most simpatico spirit, and he had the most beautiful eyes, which women could not resist. I recall that Puccini became jealous towards Catalani, often wondering how a man could write so many beautiful melodies. I still play his lovely song ‘The Dream.’”

Ebben? ne andrĂ² lontana aria from the opera La Wally by Alfredo Catalani seems to be an opera favorite. Toscanini named his second child, Wally, after Catalani's opera.

The aria was developed from Catalani's early piano pieces…

Here it is performed by Maria Callas (in the movie, Toscanini makes some scathing comments about Callas):