“What is the role of music in society?… Music is one of the essentials in human existence, almost identical with eating, sleeping, making love, the basic functions that keep a human being alive. Music simply, is one of the blessings and joys of civilized human existence.” – Janos Starker
View Janos Starker performances and interviews at http://cellobello.com/legacy/starker-the-teacher
Janos Starker Tributes
From Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi:
The passing of my dear mentor and inspiration, Janos Starker, is indeed profoundly sad news, even though we have been expecting this at any moment. It is a great honour for me to write about him, and it causes so many wonderful memories to flood my mind. The only thing I can say at this moment is that he was not only a truly incredible cellist, musician, artist, pedagogue, but more than that, he was a genuinely great person who influenced and encouraged so many people in the best possible way. The amazing results of his teaching can be heard everywhere and beautify the entire world.
From Maria Kliegel:
A moment of tense, expectant silence – to me it seemed to be an eternity. A couple of silent smoky clouds floating in the teaching room. Janos Starker looked at me in his typical manner, a gaze so full of intensity that I could feel it under my skin, followed by a shattering comment, uttered with a cool slowness and a stony, unchangeable look on his face: “if you ever play as inaccurately as you just did, I will deny ever having been your teacher.“ And again, an eternal moment of silence, this time I sat horrified in my chair, not being able to breathe or move. Silent smoky clouds.
One of my lessons in Bloomington ended this way – the Haydn D major concerto.
I was 19 and more than eager to learn from Janos Starker, whom I adored and respected endlessly, and of course I was full of pride and happiness to be part of a group of chosen students. It is easy to imagine with how much force his words struck me.
Of course he knew that and used his brilliant pedagogical skills in order to safely put me on the road, not to hurt me or cut me down.
Janos Starker was an extremely intelligent teacher who not only passed on excellent cello technique, but also had an extraordinarily caring way of guiding young people, including all psychological means and tricks. His aims were extremely high and almost impossible to reach. There always was struggle, but at the same time satisfaction as well from trying to reach the top and please the master. He set me on fire, burning with inspiration to reach his goals, to fulfill his demands.
This came to be one of my golden rules of life: “ If you want to become a musician who is characterized by individuality and true expressiveness, you have to train yourself, your muscles, your brain, your imagination, your ears, your taste on the highest level and in all dimensions of self-criticism and experience, so to eventually let your soul shine through. Music exists to touch and deeply move, not simply to show off or try to be everybody’s darling. Don’t get lost in being an actor on stage, showing how exciting and fantastic you are; create excitement for the audience but stay behind modestly with a cool and controlled mind.“
Janos Starker was an elegant human being and musician, full of honesty, dignity, responsibility, famous for his unforgettably subtle humor, loving, caring, guiding, demanding. His purity of tone and phrasing overwhelmed. He taught me love and respect for mankind and music. He woke up my senses, planted seeds for my entire life. He helped me organize and discipline myself, taught me to analyze and enjoy, to find my own frame looking for solutions and making decisions.
I feel endlessly privileged to have received the most precious of gifts – to know him, to have crossed his path, learned from him. Logically, it is now my turn and responsibility to carry his unique heritage to the next generation.
From Paul Katz, CelloBello Founder, Cleveland Quartet, New England Conservatory
The cello world lost one its true titans today with the passing of Janos Starker. Under hospice care since April 9, he was just two months short of his 89th birthday. Known to the concert-going public as one of our true superstar performers, he was equally revered by generations of grateful students as a superstar teacher. I was privileged to be one of those lucky enough to study with “the cello doctor that will fix whatever ails you”!
Those of us who knew him well, understood that the iconic, impassive face masked a human being of warmth, humor, and yes, vulnerability. In our 45 years of friendship we shared some intimate conversation, but never once did he speak a word to me of his childhood, World War II or his time in a Nazi detention camp. Rightly or wrongly, I interpreted this as his coping, and loved and admired him for it. I believe at least partial catharsis was achieved in his auto-biography, “The World of Music According to Starker”, in which he tells the world of his early years and gives us a moving and insightful glimpse into his humanity.
What a miracle of strength, perseverance and will his life was – his genius and caring touched and helped many thousands of cellists the world over – we all mourn this loss, and our admiration, gratitude, and love for Janos Starker will forever endure. Continue reading