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LABOR SONG OTW: Banned "Internationale"

Chris Garlock | Published on 6/2/2024

"The Internationale" conducted by Arturo Toscanini--BANNED by U.S. censors!
In 1944, to honor the Allied victory in Italy, legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini--a refugee from Fascism in his home country--decided to conduct a performance of Verdi's "Hymn of the Nations", which is built around 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 tenor Jan Peerce as soloist; conducted by Toscanini. It was filmed as a featurette to be shown in movie theaters, and was narrated by Burgess Meredith. In the early 1950's, at the height of the Red Scare and McCarthyism, U.S. censors excised the portion of this performance that featured the "Internationale". For years the sequence containing The Internationale was considered forever lost. But recently a copy of this missing piece of film was rediscovered in Alaska. So now this rousing rendition of the Internationale--together with chorale and orchestra under the direction of a great conductor--can be enjoyed again.

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