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Impresario Sol Hurok (Solomon Izrailevich Gurkov) died on this day in 1974 in New York City. His management company, “Sol Hurok Presents,” included among its artists Marian Anderson (for whom he arranged the famous Lincoln Memorial concert of 1939), Van Cliburn, Arthur Rubinstein, Isaac Stern, Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, Andres Segovia, Katherine Dunham, Mary Wigman, Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, Erroll Garner, Martha Graham, and the Bolshoi Ballet. A penniless emigrant from the Ukraine at age 18, Hurok played a key role in building many artistic careers while creating American audiences for ballet, modern dance, and classical music. In 1972, members of the Jewish Defense League targeted Hurok for his continued importation of Soviet artists onto American stages. The JDL bombed his office, killing one woman and injuring several other people, including Hurok.
“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.” —Alexander Slobodyanik
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.