The remarkable career of Sol Hurok, the impressario, ended with his death here yesterday from a heart attack at the age of 85. It began in 1911 when as director of the Workmen’s Circle Labor Lyceum in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, he brought cultural attractions to immigrant Jews. At its end, Mr. Hurok was recognized as the world’s foremost promotor of international cultural and artistic exchanges, particularly between the United States and the Soviet Union. Funeral services will be held later this week.
Born Solomon Isaievich Hurok in Pogar, a small Russian town near Kharkov, he was the son of a hardware merchant and at the age of 17 was sent to Kharkov to learn the hardware business. But he soon emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York in 1906. His initial step in the career during which he would manage some of the world’s greatest artists, was taken in 1911 when he persuaded Efrem Zimbalist the violin virtuoso, to play in Brownsville at a bargain fee.
During his almost legendary career, Mr. Hurok presented to American audiences such artists as Pavlova; Chaliapin; Isadora Duncan; Artur Rubinstein; Isaac Stern; Mischa Elman; the Oistrakhs; Jan Peerce and Roberta Peters. Among the dance groups he brought to the U.S. were Sadler-Wells Ballet; the Royal Ballet; the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballets and the Moiseyev Dance Co.
His prominence in bringing Soviet artists to the U.S. in recent years while concern mounted over the repression of Jews in the Soviet Union, made Mr. Hurok the target of criticism in some activist Jewish quarters. On Jan. 26, 1972, his Manhattan office was fire-bombed by unknown assailants resulting in the death of a young woman employe and injuries to 13 others. Mr. Hurok suffered from smoke inhalation but recovered. Two members of the Jewish Defense League were subsequently charged with the attack but their case was dismissed in a federal court last year.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.