The story of celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini’s opposition to fascism and Nazism during the Second World War will be told at United Nations Headquarters on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 at 6:30 p.m. Titled “Toscanini – A Conductor Stands Up for Justice”, the event is organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations and B’nai B’rith International.
Through a multimedia presentation that includes historical footage, interviews and music from the period, author and conductor Cesare Civetta will discuss Toscanini’s musical style and philosophy. He will also highlight Toscanini’s refusal to support the racist ideology and oppression espoused by both Mussolini and Hitler. Toscanini’s unwillingness to play the fascist’s anthem in Italy or conduct at the Wagner festival in Germany clearly showed great courage. He also travelled to the British Mandate to conduct an orchestra of young Jewish musicians escaping Nazi Europe, known today as the Israel Philharmonic. His unbending resistance to Nazism, as well as to Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship, conveys his values of integrity, moral courage and social responsibility.
Natalia Indrimi, Executive Director of the Centro Primo Levi, will provide the historical background of the persecution of Jews in Italy. Other speakers will include Cristina Gallach, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information; Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations; and Allan J. Jacobs, President, and Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice-President, of B’nai B’rith International. The discussion with the audience will be moderated by Kimberly Mann, Chief, Education Outreach Section, Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information. Mr. Civetta’s book, The Real Toscanini: Musicians Reveal the Maestro will be sold at the conclusion of the event.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban has recognized the contribution that artists like Toscanini have made in the fight against injustice. “The Holocaust was an assault on Jewish life and an affront to human dignity,” he said. “The United Nations is strongly committed to conveying its universal lessons, including through the formidable power of the arts.”
The Holocaust and the United Nations Information Outreach Programme was established by the General Assembly in 2006 to encourage Holocaust remembrance and education. Centro Primo Levi, inspired by the Italian humanist, writer and Holocaust survivor, offers resources for Italian Jewish studies and current affairs through public programs, seminars and publications. Founded in 1843 and accredited to the United Nations, B’nai B’rith International is a Jewish communal, humanitarian and human rights advocacy organization, with members and supporters in over 50 countries.