The Second Tenor – the voice of yearning
Rudi Schuricke’s life, unlike the other members of the Kardosch Singers, has been extensively documented over the past decades. Therefore, this page only presents the key facts of his life, and a few additional notes.
He was born Erhard Rudolf Hans Schuricke on 16 March 1913 in Brandenburg an der Havel and grew up in Königsberg, where his father worked as a military bandmaster. Under paternal pressure – his mother died when he was 15 – he completed an apprenticeship as a chemist, but like so many, he wanted to become a singer. With his own singing group, he and a few friends tried to emulate the „Comedian Harmonists“, whom he greatly admired. At the age of just 20, István Kardos discovered him for his Kardosch Singers and thus launched Rudi Schuricke’s great career.
The most well-known and widespread version of Schuricke’s beginnings with the Kardosch Singers reports that he filled in for the second tenor who had fallen ill for a radio broadcast in the autumn of 1932 in Königsberg.
Schuricke himself recounts in his unpublished autobiography that István Kardos heard him on Königsberg radio with his singing group „Schmidts Harmonisten“, invited him to Berlin for an audition, subsequently gave him singing lessons, and finally accepted him into his group. The first recording featuring Schuricke was „Hallo, kleines Fräulein“ with Barnabas von Géczy and his orchestra in October 1933.
When the Kardosch Singers ended in November 1935, Schuricke joined the Spree Revellers as their second tenor, a group founded presumably in mid or late 1934, which recorded numerous songs as chorus singers with well-known orchestras but also piano-accompanied pieces like the cheeky „Wer sich die Welt mit einem Donnerschlag erobern will“ or the famous „Regentropfen“, as well as pieces that the Comedian Harmonists or the Kardosch Singers had previously recorded, such as „Sie trägt ein kleines Jäckchen in blau“ or „Ich hab für dich ’nen Blumentopf bestellt“.
In the summer of 1936, Schuricke was under consideration as the second tenor for the Meistersextett. The „Aryan“ half of the Comedian Harmonists that remained in Berlin had been joined by three other „racially unobjectionable“ singers, and conflicts had arisen with two of the new members, which is why the group was now looking for a tenor and a baritone.
According to Robert Biberti, the manager of the Meistersextett, Schuricke’s engagement failed because of objections by first tenor Ari Leschnikoff, who feared appearing „short“ next to him on stage (Schuricke was over 1.90 m tall). Another reason Biberti cited were Schuricke’s numerous other recording engagements. With Herbert Imlau, their baritone, the Spree Revellers nonetheless lost one of their members to the Meistersextett. Subsequently, a singer named Alfred Gunert signed a contract with the Meistersextett as their second tenor but was temporarily expulsed from the Reichsmusikkammer – membership in which was mandatory – for alleged „racial defilement“ (Rassenschande, meaning intimate relations with a non-Aryan person), and Zeno Coste, Schuricke’s former colleague with the Kardosch Singers, stepped in for a few recordings, until Grunert was reinstated in the Reichsmusikkammer.
Schuricke, on the other hand, remained with the Spree-Revellers and in 1937 founded the „Schuricke-Terzett“ with Karl Golgowsky, and Helmut Krebs, who was soon replaced by Horst Rosenberg, which, in addition to piano-accompanied pieces, made countless records well worth listening to with popular dance orchestras. He also increasingly appeared as a solo chorus singer.
You can find a small Schuricke playlist here:
It includes Schuricke or the Schuricke-Terzett with the orchestras of Michael Jary, Juan Llossas, Hans-Georg Schütz, Corny Ostermann, Erhard Bauschke and Hans Bund.
In Berlin, Schuricke lived for a few years at Uhlandstraße 160, then from 1940 to the early 1950s at Beiersdorfer Weg 26 in Berlin-Rahnsdorf.
In the 1930s and 40s he was involved in numerous films, although mostly not visibly. In „Ein hoffnungsloser Fall“ with Jenny Jugo from 1939, he can be heard several times from the gramophone or from the car radio singing „Ich mach mir keine Sorgen“. In the major ufa revue film „Die Frau meiner Träume“ from 1944 he sings „Ich warte auf dich“ in a duet with Marika Rökk in the final scene. He dubs the character of the actor Valentin Frohmann.
In late 1943 he recorded the song that became his greatest success: „Capri-Fischer.“ Composed by Gerhard Winkler, singer Magda Hain had first recorded the piece before Schuricke put it on record with the Favre Choir and the orchestra of the „Plaza“ music hall orchestra under conductor Theo Knobel for the Polydor company. With the occupation of Italy by the Allies and the armistice in autumn 1943, which saw Italy withdraw from the alliance with the German Reich, the song became „undesirable“ and was no longer played on the radio.
In the post-war period, the recording was re-released and re-pressed several times into the 1950s.
Schuricke was declared guilt-free after the war and was immediately allowed to resume his artistic activities in all four occupation zones. He became one of the most popular – and probably the most productive – pop singers of the young Federal Republic. Many of his hits followed a similar pattern to „Capri-Fischer“ and sang about summer, sunsets by the sea, women, wine and donkeys, fuelling the Germans‘ great yearning for Italy in the 1950s.
Schuricke also continued to be involved in films: in 1950 he is seen as a „miracle barber“ in „Maharadscha wider Willen“, and he dubs Fred Astaire’s singing in the 1935 film „Top Hat“, which is released in German cinemas in 1950 under the title: „Ich tanz mich in dein Herz hinein“. From today’s point of view, this is not an entirely satisfactory choice, because Schuricke’s voice does not really fit Fred Astaire. The somewhat odd impression may also be related to the fact that the film has the charm of the 1930s, while Schuricke’s dubbing is typical of the upcoming Polydor-Schlager sound of the 1950s, and the two don’t really suit each other.
In 1952 he appears several times with his son Michael as a luck-bringing chimney sweep in the successful Robert A. Stemmle film „Heimweh nach dir“. The two of them sing the song „Wie leicht ist doch das Leben“.
A year later, Schuricke appears in the film „Schlagerparade“ in the dream of young composer Walter Lorenz, played by Walter Giller, and sings „Sei lieb zu mir“ together with singers Gitta Lind and Renate Holm. The plot sets the scene for performances by numerous Polydor stars of the early 50s. Schuricke’s performance can be seen here: https://fb.watch/a2SlVwPb-r/.
In addition to his singing career, Schuricke tried his luck as a hotelier: in May 1951 he opened a hotel in Herrsching am Ammersee („Hotel Seespitz“), which he ran until 1954. The numerous photos taken by photographer Georg Fruhstorfer at the opening ceremony are thankfully in the public domain, here is just one of them:
The rest of the photos of the hotel opening can be found on the pages of the Bavarian State Library.
Subsequently, Schuricke mainly lived in Bavaria, though he ran the dance restaurant „Corso am Ring“ in Cologne for a while in the 1960s.
Schuricke was somewhat forgotten in the 1960s, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was a fixture in the German entertainment industry from 1933 onwards and an often-heard voice on the airwaves and on records. Here you can hear Rudi Schuricke live, in a concert recording from 1957.
Schuricke was married five times and had four children. In 1956 he married his last wife, Maria Elisabeth (called Marlis) Kohl (born 1939). In the early 1960s, he bought a laundrette in Munich to provide financial security for his much younger wife.
In 1964, the Schuricke-Terzett reunited for a short time: For the LP „So Wirds Nie Wieder Sein“ some of the most famous songs of the group were re-recorded with the orchestra of William Greihs.
An article in „Heim und Welt“ of 16 December 1969 deals with his ousting from the music scene and his ventures as a hotel and laundromat owner, and also comes up with an odd twist on the origin of the Kardosch Singers:
In 1972 Schuricke attempted a comeback and recorded the James Last composition „So eine Liebe gibt es einmal nur“ for Polydor.
His last LP, „Meine Lieblingslieder“, which contained new recordings of some of his great successes, was not released until after his death.
In the last years of his life, he had to undergo multiple operations. He died on 28 December 1973 of a cerebral stroke following complications from gall bladder surgery. His grave is in Herrsching am Ammersee.
To mark the 100th anniversary of Rudi Schuricke’s birth, Peter Glowasz published an audio book in 2013 consisting of a 3-CD box set and an illustrated eight-page booklet. It features music from all phases of Schuricke’s career, including rare recordings, excerpts from various interviews with Schuricke, including the last interview before his death, contributions to some of his films, commercials with Rudi, a live recording, an interview by the author with Michael Schuricke from 2013, descriptions of his life and career, and an interview with Schuricke expert Hans-Joachim Schröer. The beautifully packaged audio book is available on Peter Glowasz’s website nostalgieradioweltweit.de.
On his site Peter’s Radioservice there is also a radio broadcast from 4 May 2013 to listen to: „The composer from Rixdorf and his Capri singer – memories of Gerhard Winkler and Rudi Schuricke“.
- Photos from the Kardosch-era kindly provided by the Coste family.
- Shellac records, autographs, and advertisements: collection M. Wunsch
- Peter Glowasz: Rudi Schuricke. Erinnerungen an den Capri-Sänger. Audiobook, 2013.
- Josef Westner’s Schuricke biography: „Ich sang in den finsteren Zeiten von der Sonne“.
- Jens-Uwe Völmecke: Ein Troubadour der leichten Muse. Rudi Schuricke zum 30. Todestag. In: Triangel. Das Radio zum Lesen. April 2003, 8. Jhg, S. 20 ff.
- Der Sänger mit der zärtlichen Stimme. Vor 90 Jahren wurde Rudi Schuricke in Königsberg geboren. Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung, 15. März 2003.
- Ostpreussen.net: Der in Königsberg aufgewachsene Rudi Schuricke aus Brandenburg/Havel.
- Peter Czada, Günter Große: Comedian Harmonists. Ein Vokalensemble erobert die Welt, Edition Hentrich, 1993.