July 5, 1924 in Budapest, Hungary to music-loving parents who introduced
him to music at an early age, he began his study of the cello at
the age of six, decided on a career as solo cellist at nine, and
at eleven began performing in public.
his studies at Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy of Music, he joined
the Budapest Opera Orchestra and the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra,
rising to the position of first cellist.
1948, following a year in Paris, he was brought to Dallas by the
Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati where he became the principal cellist
of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
In 1949, determined to build a career based in America, he become
principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra which at the
time was being fine-tuned by the great Hungarian-born conductors
Fritz Reiner and George Szell.
In 1952, Fritz Reiner left the Met for the Chicago Symphony and
took Janos Starker with him to become the orchestra's principal
cellist, a post he held for the next 6 years.
In 1958 he joined the faculty of the School of Music at Indiana
University in Bloomington (where today he holds the title of Distinguished
Professor). He pursued his international solo career in earnest
in the same year, becoming the first recipient of the Tracy M. Sonneborn
Award, an honor given by the University to a faculty member who
has achieved distinction both as teacher and artist.
the peak: one of the great virtuoso cellists and musicians of all
recording and performing artist:
Mr. Starker's pursuit of a solo career during his first years in
America was in the form of recordings - first with a little known
Hungarian-owned company called Period while he was still at the
Met, then with Angel, and eventually with Mercury for which he recorded
the masterpieces on the historic Mercury Living Presence label that
first brought him fame.
Today he has recorded more than 165 works on various labels, of
which the following have won or been nominated for awards: Bach's
Suites for Solo Cello, Nos. 1-6 (1997
Grammy Award for "Best Recording by a Soloist without Accompaniment");
Sonatas for cello and
piano by Brahms, Debussy, Martinu (1993
Grammy Award Nominee);
Zoltan Kodaly's Sonata
for Unaccompanied Cello
(France's Grand Prix du
on Bach and Bartok and recognized as a leading interpreter of Kodaly,
Mr. Starker has performed or recorded most everything in the repertoire
for cello. He has performed with nearly all the great orchestras
of the world and his recitals and concerts have taken him to major
concert halls all over the globe.
The occasion of his 75th birthday was a cause for celebration in
the musical world, e.g., Chicago's "Concerts under the Dome"
(May 14, 1999), Summerfest La Jolla's "Celebration
Weekend" (August 6-8, 1999), and Indiana University's September
14, 1999 gala program which marked his first concert collaboration
with famed cellist-conductor Mstislav
Rostropovich. Today though semi-retired, Mr. Starker maintains
a busy year-round concert schedule (60 concerts in 1999!) and continues
to pursue his other vocation with a passion - teaching.
Janos Starkeris as famous for his classes as for his concerts.
Many of his students have launched performing or teaching careers
of their own. Today he is still teacher to 14 cello students. He
sums up the philosophy that underpins his passion for performance
and pedagogy thus:
"I, personally, cannot perform without teaching, and I cannot teach
without performing. When you have to explain what you are doing,
you discover what you are really doing."
He has also supplemented his teaching with other related activities,
such as: editing some of the cello music of Bach, Schubert, Beethoven,
Dvorak, and other composers; publishing an edition of his own cadenzas;
writing articles on musical and other subjects for both professional
journals and popular magazines; and authoring a treatise on "An
Organized Method of String Playing for Cello" (as well as for
rewards of great artistry and mastery of knowledge