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Hymn of the Nations (1944)

Approved | | Short, Documentary, Music | 1944 (USA)
Conductor Arturo Toscanini is shown at his home in New York City and leading tenor Jan Peerce and the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" and "Overture to 'La Forza del ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Jan Peerce ...
Himself - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
The Westminister Choir ...


Conductor Arturo Toscanini is shown at his home in New York City and leading tenor Jan Peerce and the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations" and "Overture to 'La Forza del Destino.'" Written by Eric Sorensen

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Release Date:

1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arturo Toscanini  »

Filming Locations:


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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The only theatrical film that legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini ever appeared in. All of his other screen appearances were either in documentaries containing archive footage, or on television, where he appeared in ten concerts which were televised live. See more »


Featured in Behind Your Radio Dial (1948) See more »


Overture to 'La Forza del Destino'
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
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User Reviews

Fascinating wartime concert and morale booster
5 October 1999 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have not seen the current edition of "Hymn of the Nations".This review refers to the authentic, uncut original version issued by Blackhawk in the 1980's.

This was the only true theatrical film that the great maestro Arturo Toscanini agreed to make. It differs from his live TV concerts -- preserved on kinescope -- in many significant ways. In the kinescopes,everything was live, and there was no going back to alter awkward moments. The kinescopes, made during the early days of TV, are just as fascinating, but the antiquated camera technique misses many opportunities that would become standard practice with experience (i.e., some closeups of the different instrumentalists at crucial parts in the score, like the tympanist in the second movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony).

This film, however, is much more smooth and professional. The NBC Symphony Orchestra and the singers are obviously synching to their own pre-recorded track,as evidenced by the frequent cutaways in the "Forza del Destino" overture, where we see huge closeups of a radio mike, of pipes and tubing through which the "radio broadcast" is presumably being transmitted, and a long shot of a radio tower. Toscanini, however,turns out to be a fine "actor", effortlessly recreating his conducting performance in Studio 8-H for the benefit of the camera.

Because this film was produced during World War II and is supposed to be a commemoration of the fall of Mussolini, we are then treated, in the original version, to an intentionally propagandistic account, spoken dramatically by an uncredited narrator (actually Burgess Meredith), of the role played by famous Italian immigrants of the time against Fascist Italy. The scenes of Toscanini fumbling with a 1940's phonograph and listening with his grandson to the "Garibaldi Hymn" are amusing to watch, but they, together with the dramatically jingoistic narration are what hopelessly date the original version of this short subject, not to mention the awful and patently artificial re-enactment of Mussolini's overthrow as announced on NBC. (There is now a CD available which contains the real announcement as part of a Toscanini concert, and there is a world of difference between the two versions.) Another element which might even shock modern-day audiences, and which apparently has been eliminated from the current print, is the use of the Russian Revolution anthem "The Internationale", to honor our then allies, the Russians.(Incidentally, Toscanini was emphatically NOT a Communist, nor a Fascist.)

The current version of the tape probably has removed all the wartime propaganda, and what remains is the music, magnificently performed.

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