This I Believe

Crooks, Richard


  • Richard Crooks recounts the impact that simple encouragement can have on a young singer's life, and describes his beliefs drawn from choral works: that there is a king whose reign is eternal, that all men are brothers, and that those who seek shall find.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Opera and concert star Richard Crooks made his debut as a boy soprano, singing in churches in his hometown of Trenton, New Jersey at the age of nine. Later, when his voice had changed, he was a struggling young tenor, sharing a $5-a-week room with five other boys. He turned down lucrative musical comedy offers to continue studying. After serving in the First World War, he began his concert work at the age of 22, singing with the New York Symphony Orchestra under Walter Damrosch. By his own choice, it was eleven years more before his debut in the Metropolitan Opera, which won him a record-
breaking 37 curtain calls. Richard Crooks shows the same patience and understanding, for which he holds so a high a place in the hearts of American music lovers, as he states his personal creed. Here is Richard Crooks.
What I believe is so simple and uncomplicated, it is sometimes missed as we rush through life. I believe that kindness and thoughtfulness towards others can bring great happiness to both the giver and the receiver.
In looking back through the years of singing, I’ll never forget the kind and thoughtful act of a great lady and singer, Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heinke. It happened at a music festival in Trenton, New
Jersey, when I was a boy soprano 10 years of age. Madame Schumann-Heinke was singing in The Elijah by Mendelssohn, in which I also had a solo part. After the performance was over, Schumann-Heinke was presented a beautiful bouquet of roses. Later in our dressing room, she gave them to my mother, along with some kind words and good wishes for her son’s future. This was the high spot in my mother’s life. She pressed some of the roses in our family Bible. Mother’s life, which ended soon after, was made so much happier by Schumann-Heinke’s kind and thoughtful act. It made an impression which I have never forgotten. And I have tried to carry out such considerations in my life.
It has been a privilege during my career to have sung in many of the musical masterpieces. The greatest were all in acknowledgement and praise of the Omnipotent. One of the outstanding examples is expressed by the chorus in the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The words go: “All men are brothers.” Another is in the Hallelujah chorus from The Messiah by Handel: “He shall reign king of king and lord of lords forever and ever.” Mendelssohn in The Elijah gives the tenor a wonderful solo when he wrote: “If with all your hearts ye truly seek me, ye shall ever surely find me.” These are all noble statements,
namely that there is a king who will reign forever, that we are brothers, and if we seek truly, we shall find.
I have sung with many symphony orchestras. Some are now behind the Iron Curtain. And on each occasion, I was always impressed anew that peoples of different races and creeds play together in harmony, making music. With music as one known common denominator, we must seek and find other common denominators, which will bring harmony to all peoples of the earth. This I believe.
That was opera and concert star Richard Crooks, whose singing voice has thrilled millions. His creed demonstrates that he is also a thoughtful human being.