Janos Starker

Announcing a memorial event honoring Distinguished Professor Janos Starker

The Jacobs School of Music will host a special event honoring the life of Distinguished Professor Janos Starker on Sunday, September 22 at 4pm in the Musical Arts Center.

The event, free and open to the public, will be video-streamed live via the IU Music Live! website as well broadcast live on WFIU 103.7FM Public Radio.


Mark Kosower, cello
Shigeo Neriki, piano
William Preucil, violin
Alexandra Preucil, violin
György Sebök(†), piano (recorded performance)
Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, cello

The memorial will also include audio and video selections of Janos Starker, as well as remarks by IU President Michael McRobbie, Jacobs School of Music Dean Emeritus Charles Webb, Starker Institute Vice President Allen Ketchersid, and members of the Starker family.

Janos Stalker

The following was on behalf of Gwyn Richards, Dean.

April 28, 2013

It is with sadness that I report the death of Distinguished Professor Janos Starker, one of the world’s greatest cellists, an unsurpassed teacher, and one of the legendary musical figures of our time.

The Jacobs School of Music faculty, students, and alumni will remember Professor Starker as a powerful and inspirational figure whose approach to performance and teaching included an entrepreneurial world view that inspired and influenced countless careers. As a result, many of his students hold key positions in major orchestras, chamber ensembles, colleges, and conservatories worldwide.

To share your remembrances of Professor Starker, please visit the following memorial site at the Jacobs School of Music.

Janos Starker was born July 5, 1924, in Budapest, Hungary. With his peerless technical mastery and intensely expressive playing, he is universally recognized as having been one of the world’s preeminent musicians.

During the course of his extraordinary career, he appeared as recitalist and soloist with the most prestigious orchestras around the globe and became one of the most sought-after virtuosi and teachers of our time.

His mother and father, a tailor, were both Jewish. His two older brothers were violinists, and he was given a cello before his sixth birthday.

A child prodigy, Starker gave his first public performance at age six. He entered the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and made his debut there at age 11, giving his professional debut at 14.

Starker spent three months in a Nazi concentration camp. His parents also survived the camps, but his two brothers died.

In 1946, he worked as an electrician and a sulfur miner en route to Paris. He made his first recording the following year, a sonata by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. It won a Grand Prix du Disque and brought him early international fame.

He emigrated to the United States in 1948 and played for the Dallas Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony before becoming a full-time concert soloist and teacher when he joined the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 1958.

Eventually earning the title of Distinguished Professor, his classes attracted string players from around the world, and he continued to teach until close to his death.

In 1979, Starker established the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at Indiana University, honoring and fostering a comradeship amongst cellists in the world in the 30 years of the center’s existence.

Starker was 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 a teacher and as a performing artist. He holds five honorary doctorates, including one from the New England Conservatory in 2006. In 2009, he received the title of Honorary Professor of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.

Highlights of his later career included a return visit to Tokyo and Hong Kong for recitals, master classes, and performances of the Elgar Concerto with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, appearances at New York’s 92nd Street Y, and a tribute organized by the La Jolla Chamber Music Society, in which he was honored with two sold-out concerts. He performed a special concert at the Kennedy Center celebrating his native Hungary and appeared with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, New Haven Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. In New York, he performed in a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall, appeared with the New York Chamber Symphony at Lincoln Center, and featured the complete Beethoven works for cello and piano, as well as all Bach suites for unaccompanied cello.

The master cellist amassed an extensive discography of more than 165 works. Releases on BMG’s RCA Victor Red Seal label include the version for cello of Bartók’s Viola Concerto, the Dvorák Cello Concerto, and Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote. Other recordings are concertos by Hindemith, Schumann, Elgar, and Walton, and Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro and Fantaisiestücke, as well as sonatas by Brahms, Debussy, Martinu, and Rachmaninoff. Additional releases can be found on Angel, CRI, Delos, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, London, Mercury, Philips, Seraphim, and other labels worldwide. He re-recorded the Bach suites for BMG’s RCA Victor Red Seal label, a release which won a 1997 Grammy Award for Best recording by a Soloist without Accompaniment.

The author of An Organized Method of String Playing, Starker was also the inventor of a bridge designed to enhance the acoustical properties of stringed instruments. His memoir, The World of Music According to Starker, was published in 2004 by Indiana University press. Janos Starker, King of Cellists: The Making of an Artist was published in 2008 by CMP Publishing.

Preceeded in death by his parents, Sandor and Margit Starker, and his older brothers Tibor and Ede, who were killed in the war. He is survived by his wife, Rae, daughter Gwen Starker Preucil, daughter from his first marriage, Gabriella Starker-Saxe, grandchildren, Alexandra Preucil, Nicole Preucil and JP Saxe.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial contributions may be made to the Starker Research Institute and Archives, P.O. Box 5462, Bloomington, IN 47407.