From Michael McRobbie, President of Indiana University
All of us at Indiana University are deeply saddened by the passing of Janos Starker, one of the greatest cello players to have ever lived and one of the university’s true artistic giants. His was an extraordinary career, encompassing performances with the world’s most prestigious orchestras, solo concerts and numerous award-winning recordings, all of which were marked with a legendary virtuosity that will be analyzed and appreciated for years to come,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “Few performers achieve the kind of technical mastery, innovation and scintillating stage presence that defined Professor Starker, who will always be loved and admired for his willingness to share his tremendous talent and remarkable personal story with generations of aspiring musicians who received their musical training with him at IU’s internationally renowned Jacobs School of Music. Indiana University was truly fortunate to be the teaching home for this larger-than-life figure who captivated and inspired all of us, musicians and non-musicians alike, with his beautiful music, intense dedication to his craft and relentless pursuit of excellence. He will be greatly missed, and our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and many colleagues here and around the world.
From Lauren Robel, Provost of Indiana University Bloomington
Janos Starker enriched the lives of millions who never met him, but who had the emotionally and spiritually moving experience of hearing his fingers, intellect, and heart make the cello sing. Through his gifts, the world was rendered more beautiful, more musical, more sublime.
Through his students, that beauty and musicality will find expression into the future. My thoughts are with his family, students, and colleagues.
From Maestro Lorin Maazel
Janos Starker, violoncello virtuoso, consummate musician, devoted pedagogue, is no longer with us. His wit, charm, magical turn of phrase, his devotion to the Arts and the Young who will further them, has been silenced. Every muted voice that had sounded a positive, constructive, human note among the discordant cries of the ignorant, the fanatic, the militant, is a grievous loss to humanity.
I remember his delicate interpretation of the Haydn ‘cello concerto I was privileged to accompany (Israel Philharmonic), his collaborative music-making when we played the Kodaly duo for violon and ‘cello…just the two of us at my home in Castleton, Virginia…his invaluable contribution to the decisions taken by the Loan Committee of the Nippon Music Foundation when deliberating to which worthy performing artist a specific Stradivarius should be lent, his decades-long nurturing of young musicians at Bloomington, Indiana. He is now joined in death to the select few whose lives and deeds have brought light and solace to humankind.
From Menahem Pressler, Distinguished Professor
The world of music lost one of the greatest cellist at the same time one of his greatest teachers. For me, his being all that, I lost one of my best and oldest friends. We met in Dallas, he just arrived from Europe to be first cellist for Dorati and I came to play with the orchestra. The year 1948.
My world is poorer without him in every respect. My love for him will continue to live with me.
From Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis, Retired Chancellor of Indiana University Bloomington
But I recall so much else–the warmth and humor with which he entertained at his home; at Bob Knight’s request, playing for the team and talking about what it takes to achieve perfection; his visits to my home to discuss, wisely and thoughtfully, the status of the Jacobs School.
His humanity will always stay with me. I will miss him.
From Lawrence Hurst: Professor Emeritus, retired Chair of the String Department.
The first time I ever heard Janos play live was in 1962 in Dallas while I was principal bass in the orchestra there. I was awestruck; I didn’t think it was possible to play any string instrument that in tune and that beautifully. The next time I saw Janos was in 1986 when I was hired to be on the JSoM faculty. Janos was so gracious and welcoming to me, and I will never forget his collegiality during my tenure at the JSoM. He will be greatly missed by everyone, but I’m sure especially by the world-wide string community. He raised the bar very high indeed.
Anya Peterson Royce, Chancellor’s Professor of Anthropology and of Comparative Literature
A musician who was the epitome of artistic integrity and sensibility in his music-making, Janos Starker taught from the age of eight, even at the height of his concertizing, and always said that teaching was the equally important other side to his art. It was fitting that he was the first recipient, in 1986, of the Tracy M. Sonneborn award given annually to a faculty member who exemplifies the integration of distinguished performance or research and distinguished teaching. Those of us fortunate to attend his master classes and lessons witnessed his extraordinary ability to balance each student’s passion for making music with the discipline and craft of instrumental playing so that they could be freed to find their own voice. Having mastered an arena of competency, they could step beyond that into the unknown, exploring limitless possibilities. They saw their teacher engaged in the same quest and they had in him a generous and honest mentor who applauded their successes and was a kind critic when they fell short. He loved to speak about the geography of the instrument. He knew it in his hands and in his heart. He was the steadiest of guides in that difficult terrain. In his music-making and in his teaching, Janos Starker gave all of us the courage to walk into uncharted lands.
From the Dallas Symphony
Janos Starker was a superlative musician, teacher, colleague and collaborator. His service to the Dallas Symphony as Principal Cello in 1948-49, helped establish his important and lasting musical life in the United States. His impact as a performer, professor and lifelong student impacted the artistry of generations of musicians, and today we pause to honor his enduring legacy.