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World Renowned Cellist Janos Starker Dies at 88
Cellist Janos Starker, a renowned concert soloist and a Grammy Award-winning recording artist, died Sunday morning at age 88.
Starker was a child prodigy. He began playing the cello in the early 1930s in Hungary at age six, and by the time he was 8 years old he had his first student.
"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 remembered. "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 says.
At age 14, Starker's teachers encouraged him to quit school so he would have more time to practice. A year later his teacher retired so Starker took over and began teaching a number of the students.
Starker says his big break came in 1939, when he performed Zoltan Kodaly's Sonata for Solo Cello--a piece known for being unplayable.
--Indiana Public Media
William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer
Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.
The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.