At Rome's Ciampino Airport, Italy's Vice Premier Giuseppe Saragat and nearly i ,000 people crowded around Pan American Flight 156 from New York to honor an Italian returning forever home. From the plane was borne a 990-lb., copper-lined coffin, and that night, in a railway baggage car, the remains of Arturo Toscanini were taken north to Milan.
Through the grey streets early the following morning, a crowd walked behind the hearse to La Scala where 20,000 people were waiting. For two hours, housewives, dignitaries, workingmen, schoolboys, aged musicians filed through the gleaming foyer past the coffin lying in state under La Scala's crystal chandeliers. Then the visitors left and silently clustered about loudspeakers outside; inside the vast empty house, La Scala's 120-man orchestra played the Funeral March from Beethoven's Eroica for its old master. Later, the coffin rested in the glow of candles and the glare of television arc-lamps in Milan's great Gothic cathedral. After Mass, Victor de Sabata, now principal conductor at La Scala, led the Cathedral and La Scala choirs in Verdi's magnificent Requiem; it is rarely heard in church because it is considered too theatrical, but Italians knew that no other requiem could be performed for Arturo Toscanini.
Through a drizzling rain, the coffin was carried on its final trip to Milan's Monu-mentale Cemetery, where three massed choirs sang the famous chorus ("Go our thoughts on golden wings") from Verdi's Nabuccothe same music that Toscanini himself tearfully conducted at Verdi's funeral 56 years ago. Then, without a spoken word, Maestro was placed beside his son and his wife Carla: Section 7, Tomb 184. "Milan and the world of music," reported // Giorno, "knelt at his grave."