János Starker

Biography

Born: July 5, 1924; Budapest, Hungary   Died: April 28, 2013; Bloomington, IN  
Cellist Janos Starker was born in Hungary to music-loving Russian parents. His two brothers were violinists, and he was given a cello before he was six. He made public appearances at ages six and seven. Soon he entered the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, making his debut there at 11. He had begun teaching other children at eight, and by the time he was 12 he had five pupils. Starker regards the experience as important to his artistic Read more development. He found himself having to articulate phenomena that students his age rarely grasp, let alone impart to others. Starker was especially influenced by Leo Weiner, a composer who taught chamber music. He said that for more than 50 years Weiner taught every prominent Hungarian musician to learn and understand music as a language.

At 14 Starker made his professional debut playing the Dvorák concerto. He left the conservatory in 1939. After the war, when musical activities resumed, Starker became principal cellist of the Budapest Opera and the Budapest Philharmonic orchestras. Soviet Red Army forces had occupied the country, and the Communist Party was gaining dominance. Starker left the country in 1946 when relatively free travel was still possible.

He gave a successful concert in Vienna, then remained there to prepare for the Geneva Cello Competition, held in October 1946. He won only a bronze medal. "I played like a blind man," he has said. "What happens to the bird who sings and doesn't know how it sings? That's what happens to child prodigies." Starker set out to rebuild his technique. He analyzed all aspects of playing, from breathing to the physics of applying muscular force to the bow and the instrument, to phrasing, bowing, and fingering. By October of the following year he had regained his confidence. He decided to stay in the West due to the deteriorating political situation in Hungary, and headed for the United States, where Hungarian musicians had important positions.

Antal Dorati, music director of the Dallas Symphony, made Starker the orchestra's principal cellist. A year later Starker accepted Fritz Reiner's invitation to become principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In 1953 Reiner began a brilliant period as music director of the Chicago Symphony, and brought Starker with him to lead the cello section. Starker remained in Chicago until 1958, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1954 and bringing his family to the country. In 1958 he resigned his Chicago position in order to pursue his solo career. In the meantime, he had already begun making important recordings, including an early set of Bach suites. Easing the transition was an offer from Indiana University School of Music to join the faculty on a two-year trial basis. Starker quickly found Bloomington a congenial base, and attracted exceptionally talented students.

Starker's stage demeanor and public persona were rather restrained and undemonstrative. The unwary draw the same mistaken conclusion that also plagued Jascha Heifetz, charging Starker with coldness and lack of emotion. Discerning critics, however, have always tended to speak of the warmth and expressiveness of his playing. Another similarity to Heifetz lies in Starker's very focused tone, with a light, narrow, and quick vibrato. He proclaimed himself happier if, after a concert, people say "What beautiful music Schubert wrote" rather than "How well Starker plays." Similarly, he considered it at least as important to turn out the next generation of fine cello teachers as the next generation of star players. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 84 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Bartok: Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459502 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Erich Binder,  Zoltán Kocsis,  Viktoria Mullova,  Gil Shaham  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Lehel,  Iván Fischer,  Antal Doráti,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Detroit Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $212.49
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  • 2.
    Janos Starker: In Memoriam
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250304 Release Date: 01/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bohuslav Martinu,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Ernö von Dohnányi
    Performer:  János Starker
    Conductor:  John Nelson,  Walter Susskind
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $22.99
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  • 3.
    Bach Adagio [2015]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002415902 Release Date: 11/20/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ferruccio Busoni
    Performer:  János Starker,  András Schiff,  Janine Jansen,  Albrecht Mayer  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood,  Ottavio Dantone,  Riccardo Chailly,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  English Concert,  Academia Bizantina  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 4.
    Dvorak: 'cello Concerto; Faure: Elegie For 'cello And Orchestra
    Label: Hi. Q   Catalog: 45 Release Date: 09/18/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  János Starker
    Conductor:  Walter Susskind
    On sale! $52.98
    CD: $44.99
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  • 5.
    Duo Recital 1971
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93726 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  János Starker
    CD: $14.99
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  • 6.
    Janos Starker - The Warner Legacy
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 634125 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Luigi Boccherini,  Gabriel Fauré,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  János Starker,  Gyorgy Sebok
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Walter Susskind
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $39.99
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  • 7.
    Janos Starker Plays Hindemith, Prokofiev, Rautavaara
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94227 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Hindemith,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Einojuhani Rautavaara
    Performer:  János Starker
    Conductor:  Andreas von Lukacsy,  Ernest Bour,  Herbert Blomstedt
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  • 8.
    Dvorak, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Schumann - Recordings 1960-1963 / Rafael Kubelik
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 726143 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  János Starker,  Claudio Arrau
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
    CD: $54.49
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  • 9.
    Ferenc Fricsay: Complete DG Recordings, Vol 1 - Orchestral Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002132602 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Tibor Varga,  Helmut Krebs,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $175.98
    CD: $164.99
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  • 10.
    Janos Starker - The Mercury Living Presence Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002065602 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli,  Giuseppe Valentini  ... 
    Performer:  János Starker,  György Sebok,  Stephen Swedish
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $64.49
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  • 11.
    Brahms: Complete Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94860 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 58
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Cécile Ousset,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Emmy Verhey  ... 
    Conductor:  Jaap Van Zweden,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos,  Günther Herbig,  Heinz Bongartz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra,  Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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    CD: $128.99
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  • 12.
    Trio Recital 1973: Beethoven, Mendelssohn / Suk, Buchbinder, Starker
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93724 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Josef Suk,  Rudolf Buchbinder,  János Starker
    CD: $14.99
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  • 13.
    Berlioz: Harold in Italy; Bloch / Starker, Benyamini
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002005402 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Ernest Bloch
    Performer:  Daniel Benyamini,  János Starker
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Decca Sound - The Analogue Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001934702 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 54
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Anton Bruckner,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Marilyn Horne,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Georg Solti,  Bernard Haitink,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $181.49
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  • 15.
    Mercury Living Presence - The Collector's Edition Vol 2
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001831802 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Anton Webern,  Alban Berg,  Ottorino Respighi  ... 
    Performer:  Helga Pilarczyk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Mihaly Székely,  Olga Szönyi  ... 
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Rafael Kubelik,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Frederick Fennell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Hungarica  ... 
    CD: $181.49
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  • 16.
    40 Tracks for 40 Years - Delos Anniversary Set
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3440 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Antonín Dvorák,  Aram Khachaturian,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Performer:  James Earl Jones,  Charles Butler,  Marina Domashenko,  Dmitri Hvorostovsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton,  Zdenek Macal,  Constantine Orbelian,  James DePreist  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra,  New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,  Moscow Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    Kodaly: Hary Janos Suite, Dances of Galanta; Dohnanyi / Schwarz, Seattle
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572749 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Zoltán Kodály,  Ernö von Dohnányi
    Performer:  Christopher Sereque,  János Starker
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  Seattle Symphony Chorus
    CD: $12.99
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  • 18.
    Janos Starker, Rudolf Buchbinder - Brahms, Schumann
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61562 Release Date: 12/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder,  János Starker
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  • 19.
    Celibidache  Vol  3 - French & Russian Music / Munich Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 85606 Release Date: 11/29/2011   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Darius Milhaud
    Performer:  Peter Sadlo,  János Starker,  Eric Le Sage,  Emmanuel Pahud  ... 
    Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache,  Leonard Bernstein,  Walter Susskind,  John Alldis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $45.99
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  • 20.
    Brahms: Concertos, Symphonies / Haitink, Arrau, Szeryng, Starker [7-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001479902 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau,  Henryk Szeryng,  János Starker
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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    CD: $39.99
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  • 21.
    Brahms: Piano Trio, Cello Sonata / Starker, Katchen, Suk
    Label: London/Decca Chamber Mus Series   Catalog: 425423 Release Date: 06/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  János Starker,  Julius Katchen,  Josef Suk
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 22.
    Ultimate Brahms [5-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001313402 Release Date: 08/25/2009   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  János Starker,  Claudio Arrau
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $21.99
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  • 23.
    Brahms: Violin Concerto, Double Concerto / Booren, Verhey, Starker, Et Al
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 93249 Release Date: 05/05/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Borika Van Den Booren,  János Starker,  Emmy Verhey
    Conductor:  Eduardo Marturet,  Arpád Joó
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $8.99
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  • 24.
    Label: Savoy Jazz   Catalog: 17626 Release Date: 04/26/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Karol Szymanowski,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  The Denver Symphony Pops,  Akira Eguchi,  Chee-Yun,  Philharmonia Quartet Berlin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Italiani,  Baroque Strings Zürich
    CD: $12.99
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  • 25.
    Kodály: Sonata For Cello Solo, Etc / Starker
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422302 Release Date: 01/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Zoltán Kodály
    Performer:  Arnold Eidus,  János Starker,  Otto Herz
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