Penn Library

Marian Anderson: A Life in Song

Sol Hurok Presents:
The First Decade

It was through the persistent efforts of Billy King, Marian Anderson's Philadelphia-born accompanist, that impresario Sol Hurok became aware of the contralto. Bombarded by King with information and reviews, Hurok was primed to be intrigued and respond with interest when Ms. Anderson's successes in Europe reached the American press and public. Although many had sought to represent Ms. Anderson to the best of their abilities, Sol Hurok's management marked a quantum leap in experience and individualized attention to career development. The year 1935--the 1935/36 season--was the first for Hurok and Anderson, and he remained her manager for the rest of her performing career. In her autobiography Marian Anderson writes of her interest in Hurok because of "his reputation for daring and constructive management . . . [and] the boldness with which he did things." She had been represented by the Arthur Judson Agency, which, with its many clients, was unable to devote the kind of personal attention that was Hurok's trademark.

Sol Hurok may be credited not only with shaping the course of Marian Anderson's career but also with providing the counsel and care that allowed her to concentrate on singing rather than issues of politics, race, finances, and related details that are necessary to a concert career but debilitating to the study and practice of song. Marian Anderson performed to critical and financial success into her sixties--a remarkable achievement for a vocalist performing works in the classical repertoire.

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