This I Believe

Hurok, Sol

  • Sol Hurok recounts his experiences as an immigrant to America, and his vision for a venture that would bring classical artists to a popular audience.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Sol Hurok is perhaps the world's best known impresario. The roster of artists he has presented reads like a list of the greats of our time. Included are Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, Marian Anderson and Arthur Rubinstein, to name just a few. Sol Hurok was born in the Ukraine, the son of a hardware merchant. At the age of 17, he determined to see the world which lay beyond the gates of his town. He arrived in New York with one dollar and fifty cents in his pocket. Seventeen odd jobs in Philadelphia, ranging from peddling notions to washing bottles and taking tickets on a street car, convinced him that he could be no worse off in New York City. There he secured a job in a hardware store and, in three
years, saved $168, enough to finance his first entertainment venture. The rest is theatrical history. Here now is Sol Hurok's creed.
It is not my way to look backwards. Today and tomorrow are the normal boundaries of my thinking. But trying now, as I am, to form the guiding, leading philosophy of my life, I would say this: I have been a happy and fortunate man because I have always believed in what I was doing. I have always had a wholehearted zest for my work. I have never minded the failures half as much as I enjoyed the successes. I have never been discouraged by the gloomy warnings of artists who tried to change my mind before my major decisions.
From the beginning, when I arrived in this country with 3 rubles in my pockets and determination to provide music for the masses, I knew that I would find the right way. A million potential music lovers had not moved out of the little neighborhoods since the day they had been brought here from the Castle Garden, or the Ellis Island of that time. I wanted to induce them to come to this strange world, the Hippodrome, a temple in which simple people would enter to enjoy great art. At the Hippodrome, I could give them programs of the world's greatest artists at the popular prices; sold tickets to them, not at the box office but at their drugstores in Harlem, their jewelry stores in the Bronx, their music stores in Brooklyn; to their trade unions and fraternal organizations.
It was a wonderful time for me when the people came for the first time. They came by trolleys, by El, walked for the correct numbers of blocks, turned to the right or to the left, and they got there. For thousands of them it was the first time they had seen the busy heart of the city, which was their home, and it was a good way to see it and feel it. I have never lost my enthusiasm for such work, and the important thing is that I've had it, whether successful or not.
I think of the first time that I brought the Ballet Ruse to this country and I lost 85,000 dollars, but never felt sorry that I brought them. There was a few financial failures I had but never artistic failures. I was never discouraged, nor did
I think of going to my friends. I remember what Phil Stern said when he was very ill: "Don't publish anymore bulletins about my illness," he told the doctors. "What good are they do? My friends will be saddened, my enemies cheered."
I kept my trouble to myself, kept my office, waited to get started again, and of course I did. All this could have happened to me nowhere but in this country. I say this humbly and I say it sincerely: The freedom, the search for a better life, the youth ambition, the strength of America made this the only atmosphere in which to find fulfillment. For this I shall always be grateful.
There the beliefs of Sol Hurok of New York. He is the world famous impresario, instrumental in bringing ballet to the American people.