Taking a detour to some rarely heard performances of the 78 era by artists who don’t figure prominently on the historic radar. This weekend it’s Bernardino Molinari, leading the Orchestra of The Santa Cecilian Academy of Rome in this circa 1947 performance of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. It’s not entirely clear this recording is from 1947, as the only other recordings of Molinari conducting are for Fonit and are from 1942. This one was initially issued on Parlophone after the War and reissued on an early lp for the Tempo label, along with several recordings by Igor Markevitch.
Some background via Wikipedia:
Bernardino Molinari (11 April 1880 – 25 December 1952) was appointed artistic director of the Augusteo Orchestra, Rome, later renamed l’Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, a position he held until the end of the Second World War. Since this was then, as now, the leading symphony orchestra position in Italy, it aroused the envy of several rivals.
After the liberation of Rome on 4 June 1944, Molinari was contested by the public, in particular during two concerts held on 9 and 12 July, for his involvement with the Fascist regime. He had to suspend the performance and, since then, he was able to conduct in Rome the Orchestra of the Theatre of Opera only.
In 1945, he arrived in Palestine and conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and shortly after became its musical advisor. The performance of the Korngold violin concerto with David Grunschlag as soloist was critically acclaimed
According to some reports, his arrangement of the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah was praised by Leonard Bernstein. His version serves most Israeli performances of the piece.
Molinari guest-conducted many of the orchestras in Europe and the Americas, including guest appearances with The NBC Symphony in the late 1930s, a frequent guest conductor of the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic orchestras, as well as many other U.S. ensembles from the 1920s on. But unlike most Italian conductors, he seldom guest-conducted opera.
I would imagine there may be some broadcast performances featuring Molinari at the podium, but since he died in 1952, I cannot imagine there being that many.
All in all, a conductor who was highly regarded in his day who has gone largely forgotten among many collectors, especially among those who don’t dabble in 78s or very early lps.
In any event, enjoy.