Richard Crooks


Schubert Club Performances:

  • November 10, 1924
  • April 9, 1940

From the Schubert Club Archive:

He was called the American John McCormack. With his sweet, flexible, perfectly produced voice, Richard Crooks carried on the legendary Irish tenor’s tradition, even to adopting an Irish accent when singing in English. One of the leading Metropolitan Opera tenors of the 1930s and early 40s, Crooks was even better known as the “Voice of Firestone” on NBC Radio, purveying his sweet songs in the McCormack vein to rapt listeners all across the country:


Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Crooks began singing as a boy soprano in a local church. When he was 13, he was noticed during a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah by the great German contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink (Schubert Club, 1907), a featured artist in that concert. She was so impressed with his singing that she rushed over and gave the boy a kiss in front of the audience (much to his embarrassment).


Crooks made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1919 while still engaged as the soloist at New York’s 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church and appearing with amateur music clubs and choral societies. After landing a contract with Victor, between 1923 and 1945 he recorded everything from opera arias and art songs to sacred classical and pop tunes. Here he sings the popular song “For You Alone” (also recorded by the likes of Caruso, Tauber, Lanza and Björling) in a recording from 1924, the same year as his Schubert Club debut:


Also in his first St. Paul recital he sang “Sound an Alarm!” from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus. He recorded it for Victor in 1942:


Crook’s long-awaited Met debut took place on February 25, 1933 as Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon, one of his most celebrated roles:


In his second Schubert Club recital, in 1940, Crooks offered Rachmaninoff’s song “To the Children”, also a sentimental favorite of John McCormack. This performance, with orchestral accompaniment, is from a 1943 “Voice of Firestone” radio broadcast:

Artist note by Richard Evidon

Review of Croooks’ 1924 performance

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Brochure advertising Crooks’ 1924 performance at People’s Church.

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Program from Crooks’ 1924 concert at People’s Church

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Program from Crooks’ 1940 concert at St. Paul Auditorium

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