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Musician born July 5th. Janos Starker. Cellist.

Have you figured out by now that I like cellists? Here’s another one.

Janos Starker was born [July 5, 1924] in Budapest to a father of Polish descent and a mother who had immigrated from Ukraine. His two older brothers were violinists, and the young János (named for the hospital in which he was born) was given a cello before his sixth birthday. A child prodigy, Starker made his first public performances at ages six and seven. He entered the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest to study with Adolf Schiffer and made his debut there at age 11. Starker began teaching other children at age eight, and by the time he was 12 he had five pupils. Starker counts among his strongest influences Leo Weiner, a composer who taught chamber music. Zoltán Kodály, Béla Bartók and Ernő Dohnányi were also members of the Liszt Academy faculty.

Starker emigrated to the United States in 1948 to become principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Antal Doráti. In 1949 he moved to New York to become principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera under Fritz Reiner.

In 1951, he became a founding member of the Suk Trio with Josef Suk and Julius Katchen.

In 1952, Starker became principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when Fritz Reiner became the music director. In 1958, Starker moved to Indiana University and resumed his solo career, giving hundreds of concerts on every continent.

Since 2001, Starker has limited his activities to teaching, master classes and occasional performances with his long time partner, the pianist Shigeo Neriki, and his son-in-law, daughter and granddaughter, violinists William, Gwen, and Alexandra Preucil. He still actively teaches and views teaching as his responsibility to the next generation of cellists.

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