Commentary Magazine


On Richard Tucker

To the Editor:

I was delighted to read Jacob Cohen’s “In Memory of Richard Tucker” [April], for he expresses some of my own views of Tucker’s qualities and achievements.

My knowledge of Richard Tucker began when, going to speak at a remote village church hall in South Wales, . . . I noticed in a music-shop window, a small record jacket: “Richard Tucker. Kol Nidre. Eli Eli.” I had never heard of the man . . . or of the particular series of records. However, the next day I ordered the record. Once I had heard it, I had to know more about him. . . .

A few years later, I was staying for part of Passover at a certain “borscht-belt” hotel. . . . As we were about to enter the “temple,” I was told, “Oh, by the way, our cantor for the services is Richard Tucker.” . . . A few minutes later, I heard, first, the voice of the rabbi, who touched a sentimental chord in that he had ministered to my own home congregation in Wales until a few years earlier, and then I listened, fascinated, to the hazzanut of Richard Tucker. He was the first man to make me weep at the sound of music. It is no insult to say that he brought back for me the memories of the hazzanim of London’s East End. . . . They were men who had wonderful voices which were not always properly trained and developed, or truly appreciated. And as Richard Tucker led the davening that day, I wept. . . .

Len Goss
Council of Christians and Jews
London, England

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To the Editor:

I have two questions concerning Jacob Cohen’s wonderful article. . . . What does Mr. Cohen mean by the words “an unanswerable demonstration of how Puccini should be sung”?

Mr. Cohen also writes: “Tucker was absolutely riveting in the third act [of Carmen].” I don’t know what Tucker was doing riveting in the midst of Carmen, but this doesn’t make sense either, as Mr. Cohen says Tucker was absolutely riveting. . . .

James I. Rothschild
Winnetka, Illinois

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Jacob Cohen writes:

James I. Rothschild is quite right. Don Jose does not actually rivet in the third act of Carmen. He glowers a lot, fights a little, and in the fourth act stabs, but he does not actually rivet. Mr. Rothschild has provided an absolutely unanswerable demonstration of how the English language should be protected.

_____________

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