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 76-33 of 33 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Brahms, Mendelssohn: Double Concertos / Starker, Et Al
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4643692 Release Date: 02/28/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  János Starker,  Jaap Van Zweden,  Ronald Brautigam
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
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  • 77.
    Concertos in Contrast - Haydn, Vivaldi, Weber, Wieniawski, Bloch
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4666832 Release Date: 01/31/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henri Wieniawski,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Glenn Dicterow,  Michele Zukovsky,  Miles Zentner,  Thomas Stevens  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 78.
    Beethoven: Complete Sonatas & Concertos, Etc / Arrau, Et Al
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 462358 Release Date: 11/09/1999   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau,  János Starker,  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Eliahu Inbal
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD not available
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  • 79.
    Cocktail Classics / Mcdonald, Zukerman, Vogel, Et Al
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1611 Release Date: 08/03/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elias Parish Alvars,  Traditional,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Susann McDonald,  Carol Rosenberger,  János Starker,  Shigeo Neriki  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arden Trio,  Brazilian Guitar Quartet
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  • 80.
    Serene Journeys Through Classical Music
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1608 Release Date: 09/22/1998   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  William Henry Harris,  Peter Hallock,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Rosenberger,  Todd Wilson,  Eric Plutz,  Mark Kruczek  ... 
    Conductor:  Donald Pearson,  Dennis Keene,  Gerard Schwarz,  Zdenek Macal  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Denver St. John's Episcopal Cathedral Choirs,  Voices of Ascension,  Ascension Music Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 81.
    Brahms: Complete Chamber Music
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 454073 Release Date: 09/16/1997   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Peter Steiner,  Heinrich Majowski,  Dietrich Gerhard,  Kunio Tsuchiya  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Octet members,  Quartetto Italiano,  Beaux Arts Trio  ... 
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  • 82.
    Dvorák, Bartok: Cello Concertos / Starker, Slatkin, St Louis
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 60717 Release Date: 08/30/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  János Starker
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
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  • 83.
    Bach: Six Cello Suites / János Starker
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61436 Release Date: 03/11/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  János Starker
    CD: $19.99
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  • 84.
    Brahms At Bedtime
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 454966 Release Date: 10/15/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Julian Lloyd Webber,  John Lenehan,  Claudio Arrau,  Stephen Kovacevich  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Beaux Arts Trio,  Berlin Philharmonic Octet members
    CD: $6.99
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  • 85.
    Mystery Classics
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1601 Release Date: 07/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Maurice Ravel,  Louis Vierne,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Carol Rosenberger,  David Britton,  Ani Kavafian  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  Eleazar de Carvalho
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequoia String Quartet,  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  Chamber Music Northwest  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 86.
    Romance Classics
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1602 Release Date: 07/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Richard Strauss,  Ernö von Dohnányi  ... 
    Performer:  Jian Wang,  Carol Rosenberger,  János Starker,  Hu Nai-Yuan  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  Zdenek Macal
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,  Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 87.
    Janos Starker - Concerto Collection / Santa Fe Festival
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3197 Release Date: 01/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  François Couperin,  J-B-A Joseph Janson,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  János Starker
    Conductor:  János Starker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Fe Festival Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 88.
    Bach At Bedtime
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 446915 Release Date: 10/17/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Pepe Romero,  Heinz Holliger,  György Sebok,  János Starker  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinz Holliger,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Iona Brown,  Arpád Gerecz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Les Solistes Romands,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $6.99
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  • 89.
    American Archives Series - Kurka, Mennin, Piston
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 44 Release Date: 04/16/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Walter Piston,  Peter Mennin,  Robert Kurka
    Performer:  János Starker
    Conductor:  Jorge Mester,  Robert Whitney
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Louisville Orchestra
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  • 90.
    Beethoven: Complete Concertos Vol 2 / Kovacevich, Krebbers
    Label: Philips Duo   Catalog: 442580 Release Date: 10/11/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Stephen Kovacevich,  Lidia Grychtolówna,  Herman Krebbers,  Henryk Szeryng  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Heinz Dressel,  Bernard Haitink,  Eliahu Inbal
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Folkwang Chamber Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
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  • 91.
    Starer: Cello Concerto;  Wernick: Viola Concerto / Botstein
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 618 Release Date: 06/10/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Starer,  Richard Wernick,  Richard Wilson
    Performer:  János Starker,  Walter Trampler,  Blanca Uribe
    Conductor:  Leon Botstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 92.
    Repertoire - Starker Encore Album
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 8117 Release Date: 08/27/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wilhelm Friedemann Bach  ... 
    Performer:  János Starker,  Shuku Iwasaki
    CD not available
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  • 93.
    Repertoire - Virtuoso Music For Cello / Janos Starker
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 8118 Release Date: 08/27/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  János Starker,  Shigeo Neriki
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  • 94.
    Brazilian Festival `88 - A Brazilian Extravaganza
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1017 Release Date: 12/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marlos Nobre,  Heitor Villa-Lobos
    Performer:  János Starker,  Elizabeth Sawyer,  Sonia Muniz
    Conductor:  Eleazar de Carvalho
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paraiba Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 95.
    Brazilian Festival `88 - Masters & Winners
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1018 Release Date: 12/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Béla Bartók,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Antonio Vivaldi
    Performer:  Emmanuel Lopez,  Karen Elaine,  Scott Yoo,  Aldo Parisot  ... 
    Conductor:  Eleazar de Carvalho
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paraiba Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 96.
    Intimate Encounters
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3505 Release Date: 12/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  David Shifrin,  Carol Rosenberger,  Allan Vogel,  Kenneth Munday  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orford String Quartet,  Chamber Music Northwest
    CD: $9.99
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  • 97.
    Second Stage - The Symphonic Sound Stage Vol 2
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3504 Release Date: 12/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Howard Hanson,  Walter Piston,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Rosenberger,  János Starker
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  James DePreist,  Eleazar de Carvalho
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  Oregon Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $9.99
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  • 98.
    Starker Plays Kodaly
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1015 Release Date: 12/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Bottermund,  Zoltán Kodály
    Performer:  János Starker,  Josef Gingold
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  • 99.
    The Symphonic Sound Stage - A Listener's Guide
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3502 Release Date: 12/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Ottorino Respighi,  Manuel de Falla,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Rosenberger,  János Starker,  Della Jones
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  James DePreist
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  Oregon Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $9.99
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  • 100.
    Haydn: Symphonies 21 & 96, Cello Concerto / Schwarz, Starker
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3062 Release Date: 12/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  János Starker
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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