Grammy award-winning cellist Janos Starker dies at 88


World renowned concert cellist Janos Starker died April 28, 2013 at the age of 88.


Ben Pruchnie

Musician Janos Starker, regarded as one of the world's greatest cellists, died Sunday at the age of 88.

The Hungarian-born musician was a world renowned cellist and teacher who attracted students from all over the world.

Starker had been a professor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music since 1958.

"I personally cannot perform without teaching, and I cannot teach without performing," he told the Chicago Tribune in 1993. "When you have to explain what you are doing, you discover what you are really doing."

He was a child prodigy who started playing cello in his native Hungary at age 6 and started teaching other students by age 8.

"I played in public at 11, 12, 13, 14, and 14 was the big, dramatic break-through for me because a colleague of mine was supposed to play with a student orchestra, Dvorak Concerto," Starker once told Indiana Public Media.

"I, as a student, was in the orchestra, as a cellist. At noon the phone rang in our apartment and my teacher called and said, 'Would you like to play Dvorak Concerto?' I said 'When?' 'This afternoon.' And I said, "May I use the music?" They said, "Sure." And I played and that was supposedly one of the big dramatic successes of childhood prodigies," he said.

After his big break, Starker became a full-time concert soloist and teacher, recording more than 165 recordings with the world's leading orchestras.

He won a Grammy Award in 1997 for his rendition of Bach's Suites For Solo Cello 1-6.

Starker emigrated to the United States in 1948, playing principal cello for the Dallas Symphony and then the Metropolitan Opera and before spending five seasons with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

"Although less fiery and never a superstar, Janos Starker was, in many ways, the Jascha Heifetz of the cello," Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed said Sunday.

"His technique was impeccable and he produced an invariably refined sound. And yet he had depth of tone, an ability to give every note grave substance, which made him one of the rare musicians to find a way for beauty, grace and intensity to coexist, as if we lived in a world where they were all the same thing."