One of the greatest symphony conductors of his generation, Arturo Toscanini began lessons at the Parma Conservatory at the tender age of nine. By the time he was in his late teens, Toscanini was a professional cellist. In 1886, he was playing in the orchestra of a Rio de Janeiro staging of Aida when the official conductor was literally hissed off the stage. Toscanini was hurriedly rushed onto the podium and he successfully conducted the evening's performance; the rest, as they say, is history. From 1898 to 1903, he was principal conductor at the La Scala opera house, and beginning in 1908 he was associated with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. A volatile, frequently physically abusive man, Toscanini nonetheless commanded great loyalty and devotion from his staff, not only because of his musical brilliance but also because of his outspoken condemnation of Italian fascism. In 1937, he assumed the leadership of the NBC radio network's symphony orchestra, which had been organized especially for him. He remained with the NBC symphony until 1954, conducting his final performance just ten days before his 87th birthday. It was during his NBC years that Arturo Toscanini made his only formal film appearance, in the 28-minute musical short subject Hymn of the Nations (1946).