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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, June 18, 2009

IU Distinguished Professor Janos Starker receives honorary professorship

June 18, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Legendary cellist Janos Starker, a distinguished professor in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, received the title of honorary professor of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, at a spring ceremony in Bloomington.

Starker, who was born in Budapest in 1924, received the certificate and academy plaque from Hungarian Consul General in New York Viktor Polgar in recognition of his contribution to universal music culture, international music life and lifetime artistic achievements.

At the April 22 ceremony, congratulatory remarks were delivered by Csaba Onczay, Jacobs School of Music visiting professor and Liszt University of Music professor. Guests included Jacobs Dean Gwyn Richards, Jacobs Dean Emeritus Charles Webb and Jacobs Associate Professor of Cello Emilio Colon.

Starker said he was honored to receive the title, particularly because he had nourished the closest ties with Hungary through the Liszt Academy.

"When you get old these things come your way," said Starker, who will turn 85 on July 5. "I consider myself lucky that my work has been recognized."

With his peerless technical mastery and expressive playing, Starker is universally recognized as one of the world's greatest musicians.

During the course of his extraordinary career, Starker has appeared as recitalist and soloist with the most prestigious orchestras around the globe and has become one of the most sought-after virtuosi and teachers of our time. After almost five decades of appearing on concert stages worldwide, Starker is now focusing his efforts on teaching as a distinguished professor at Indiana University, where his master classes have attracted string players from around the world.

Starker joined the faculty of the IU Jacobs School of Music in 1958 and 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 scholar or artist.

Among numerous awards, Starker holds seven honorary doctorates, including the most recent from Canada's McGill University in May 2008.

Highlights of recent seasons include 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 Dohnanyi Konzerstuecke with the Indianapolis Symphony, a special concert at the Kennedy Center celebrating his native Hungary and appeared with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, 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.

Starker's extensive discography includes 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' Don Quixote. Other recordings are concertos by Hindemith, Schumann, Elgar and Walton, 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 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo Performance in 1998.

In his native Budapest, Starker began studying the cello when he was 6 years old. By the age of 8, he was teaching his first pupil, and, by 11, he was performing in public. His early career took him through Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy and on to positions of first cellist with the Budapest Opera and with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1948, he emigrated to the United States, where he subsequently held the post of principal cellist with the Dallas Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner.