Toscanini returned to Italy the next season (1886-87), and there subsequently conducted the premieres of Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (1892) and Puccini's La Bohème (1896) and the Italian premiere of Wagner's Götterdämmerung (1895). In 1898, Toscanini was appointed chief conductor and artistic director at La Scala, Milan, where he presented many new operas and the Italian premieres of many others, including Wagner's Die Meistersinger (1898) and Siegfried (1899).
From 1908 to 1914 he conducted at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, where he gave American premieres of Puccini's Girl of the Golden West (1910), Wolf-Ferrari's Le donne curiose (1912), and other works. Toscanini returned to Italy during World War I. With the reorganized La Scala Orchestra he toured (1920-21) Europe and the United States and was artistic director of La Scala from 1921 to 1929. Upon his return to the United States, he conducted the New York Philharmonic from 1928 to 1936 and the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which was formed for him, from 1937. His other important engagements included the Bayreuth Festivals (1930, 1931), of which he was the first non-German conductor, the Salzburg Festivals (1934-36), and the Lucerne Festivals (1937-39). In 1936 he conducted the inaugural concert of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra in Tel Aviv. Consistently antifascist, he refused several times to appear in fascist countries. In 1954 he retired as conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra.
Toscanini commanded perfection from his orchestras and instilled them with remarkable energy. A tempestuous personality, he was nevertheless greatly respected by performers and was widely emulated by conductors. His artistry is preserved in recordings, notably of the symphonies of Beethoven and works by Brahms, Wagner, Verdi, and many others.
See B. H. Haggin, Conversations with Toscanini (1959); letters ed. by H. Sachs (2002); biographies by H. H. Taubman (1950), S. Chotzinoff (1956), D. Ewen (rev. ed. 1960), B. H. Haggin (1967), and H. Sachs (1978); studies by R. C. Marsh (1956) and P. C. Hughes (2d enl. ed. 1970), and H. Sachs (1991).
Toscanini's original (and presently only) location is at 899 Main St. in Central Square. Other locations have included the Someday Café in Somerville, Massachusetts (closed August 2006), a location in the MIT student center (closed December 2000), and a location on Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square (closed December 2006). Toscanini's ice cream can also be found in some restaurants and supermarkets in the Boston area, such as Whole Foods Market.
Owner Gus Rancatore recently published an Amazon Short with author Helen Epstein, entitled Ice Cream Man: 25 Years at Toscanini's, presenting a personal story of how Toscanini's came to be. The short has spent several weeks on Amazon's top ten list.
On January 17, 2008 the business was seized by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue because of failure to pay more than $167,000 in taxes dating back to 2000. An overwhelming amount of support from the local community and beyond provided the owners with more than $30,000 toward satisfying the tax bill, and a plan was devised to pay the balance. After being closed for eight days, Toscanini's Ice Cream and Coffee Shop re-opened for business on January 25.