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Sol Hurok

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Sol Hurok
Соломон Израилевич Гурков
Hurok in 1954
Solomon Izrailevich Gurkov

April 9, 1888
DiedMarch 5, 1974(1974-03-05) (aged 85)
Hurok with actress Hanna Robina, 1954

Sol Hurok (Solomon Israilevich Hurok; born Solomon Izrailevich Gurkov, Russian Соломон Израилевич Гурков; April 9, 1888 – March 5, 1974) was a 20th-century American impresario.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hurok was born in Pogar, Chernigov Governorate, Russian Empire (in present-day Bryansk Oblast, Russia) in 1888. His father, Israel Hurok, was a hardware merchant. At age 17, he was sent to Kharkiv to learn the trade. Shortly thereafter, in 1906, he immigrated to the United States, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1914.[2][3]


During Hurok's long career,[4] S. Hurok Presents managed many performing artists, including Marian Anderson, Irina Arkhipova, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Grace Bumbry, Feodor Chaliapin, Nestor Mesta Chayres,[5] Van Cliburn, Victoria de los Ángeles, Manuela del Río, Isadora Duncan, Katherine Dunham, Michel Fokine, Margot Fonteyn, Emil Gilels, Alexander Glazunov, Horacio Gutiérrez, Daniel Heifetz, Jerome Hines, Isa Kremer, Moura Lympany, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, David Oistrakh, Anna Pavlova, Jan Peerce, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, Arthur Rubinstein, Andrés Segovia, Isaac Stern, Galina Vishnevskaya, Ralph Votapek, Efrem Zimbalist, and many others.

In 1935, Rubinstein introduced Hurok to singer Marian Anderson,[6][7] who retained Hurok as her manager for the rest of her career.[8] A few years later, with Walter White of the NAACP and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Hurok was instrumental in persuading U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes to arrange Anderson's Easter Sunday open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939.

Beginning in the late 1930s Hurok managed Colonel W. de Basil's Original Ballet Russe, as well as its offshoot rival company, Sergei J. Denham's The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. They often performed near each other, and Hurok hoped to reunite the companies,[citation needed] but ultimately was unsuccessful.

In 1959, after 35 years of effort,[9] Sol Hurok brought the Soviet Bolshoi Ballet to the United States for an eight-week performance tour. In 1961, he brought the Kirov Academy of Ballet and the Igor Moiseyev Ballet Company to the U.S. In 1962, he again brought the Bolshoi to the U.S. for a tour at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.[6][10]

The First Moog Quartet, the first to perform electronic music in Carnegie Hall, was formed in 1970 in response to Hurok's request to hear the Moog synthesizer in a live concert.

In honor of Hurok's influence on American music, on December 4, 1971, he was awarded the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit.[11] Beginning in 1964, this award was "established to bring a declaration of appreciation to an individual each year that has made a significant contribution to the world of music and helped to create a climate in which our talents may find valid expression."

In 1972, a bomb planted in Hurok's Manhattan office exploded,[10][12] killing employee Iris Kones and injuring several others, including Hurok. While many people believe the bombing had been arranged by the Jewish Defense League, a far-right terrorist organization which opposed the U.S. tours of artists from the Soviet Union,[13] no one was ever convicted of the crime.


In 1974, en route to a meeting with David Rockefeller to discuss a Rudolf Nureyev project,[10] Hurok died of a heart attack. More than two thousand people nearly filled Carnegie Hall for his funeral,[10] where Marian Anderson delivered the final eulogy.[6]

"He didn't have the musical understanding of a scholar or specialist," Russian pianist Alexander Slobodyanik, another Hurok discovery, told me. "But he had a sixth sense for the aura surrounding an artist, the aura of success or the ability to interest an audience. And after all, most people in a concert audience don't have any special education either. Like Hurok, they just have hearts."

— Harlow Robinson, "Sol Hurok: America's dance impresario."[14]        

Cultural depictions[edit]


  1. ^ Harris Green (September 1994). "Book Review: The Last Impresario: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Sol Hurok, by Harlow Robinson". Dance Magazine.
  2. ^ "Sol Hurok, American impresario". Britannica. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  3. ^ "Sol Hurok Dies at 85". St. Louis Jewish Light. March 27, 1974. p. 43. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  4. ^ S. Hurok at the Internet Broadway Database
  5. ^ "Nestor Mesta Chayres was one of the few popular artists to be represented by the office of Sol Hurok" translate.google.com
  6. ^ a b c "Brief notes about Sol Hurok". Fittingly, it was Anderson who said the final words at Hurok's funeral.
  7. ^ United States Postal Service (2005). "Marian Anderson, Voice of the Century". Archived from the original (plain text) on 2007-09-29.
  8. ^ "Marian Anderson Biography". University of Pennsylvania Library Special Collections-MA Register 4 (Scope and Content Note). January 31, 2003. {{cite web}}: External link in |work= (help)
  9. ^ "What Sol Wrought". Time. April 27, 1959. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. After 35 years of trying, Hurok had finally signed Moscow's famed Bolshoi Ballet for an epochal eight-week U.S. tour, and now he was issuing a frantic order: tell newspapers nothing more about the Bolshoi—not even its repertory. Was Hurok mad? Not at all. As the Bolshoi opened at Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera House ... he was merely the center of the fiercest ticket crush in recent memory.
  10. ^ a b c d Harlow Robinson (November 1994). "Sol Hurok: America's dance impresario". Dance Magazine. By bringing Soviet artists to the West and American artists to the USSR from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s, Hurok added an important measure of continuity and humanity to the fragile superpower relationship. Even at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the moment at which the world came closest to nuclear war, the Bolshoi Ballet was dancing across the United States under the "S. Hurok Presents" banner. To those opposed to rapprochement with Moscow, however, such as the militant Jewish Defense League, Hurok's presentation of Soviet performers in the United States was a moral outrage. Beginning with picket lines and stinkbombs, the JDL's anti-Hurok campaign climaxed in the terrorist bombing of his offices in early 1972. Hurok was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and one of his secretaries was killed. Those who knew Hurok well agree that the incident undermined his seemingly indestructible constitution. He died two years later of a massive heart attack on the way to a meeting with David Rockefeller. They were planning to discuss possible financing for a new attraction he was developing with Rudolf Nureyev—"Nureyev and Friends."
  11. ^ "The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit Recipients". Archived from the original on 2012-02-09.
  12. ^ Richard Rosenthal (2000). Chapter One, excerpt: Rookie Cop: Deep Undercover in the Jewish Defense League. Leapfrog Press. ISBN 0-9654578-8-5. Before those responsible were aware they had killed a young Jewish woman, one of those in charge of the operation had already made the obligatory call to the media, saying: "This culture destroys millions of Jews. Cultural bridges of friendship will not be built over the bodies of Soviet Jews. NEVER AGAIN!"
  13. ^ Kushner, Harvey W. (2003). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. SAGE. pp. 192–193. ISBN 0-7619-2408-6.
  14. ^ Harlow Robinson (November 1994). "Sol Hurok: America's dance impresario". Dance Magazine.

External links[edit]