The legendary Janos Starker in concert with The Cleveland Orchestra guest conducted by Eduardo Mata from the Blossom Music Festival of May 24, 1980. Featuring music by Beethoven, Bloch, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.
Beginning with Beethoven’s 8th symphony and then the orchestra is joined by Janos Starker in performances of Bloch’s Schelomo and Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, and concluding with Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.
Janos Starker was a Hungarian-born child prodigy who later survived internment by the Nazis during World War II, Mr. Starker appeared, in the decades after the war, on the world’s most prestigious recital stages and as a soloist with the world’s leading orchestras. He was part of a vaunted triumvirate that included Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-76) and Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007), collectively the most celebrated cellists of the day.
He was also widely known through his more than 150 recordings, including one of Bach’s six suites for solo cello for which he won a Grammy Award in 1998.
Mr. Starker played several magnificent cellos during his career — including the “Lord Aylesford” Stradivarius of 1696, a 1707 Guarnerius and a 1705 instrument by the great Venetian maker Matteo Goffriller — but he nonetheless managed to resist the seductions of the instrument to which cellists can fall prey.
After World War 2, Starker became principal cellist of the Budapest Opera and the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. Starker left Hungary in 1946.
He gave a successful concert in Vienna, then remained there to prepare for the Geneva Cello Competition. At the competition, held in October 1946, he received a bronze medal.
After competing in Geneva, Starker spent a year working on his technique in Paris. “I played like a blind man,” he said. “What happens to the bird who flies and doesn’t know how it flies? That’s what happens to child prodigies.” At the conclusion of his year in Paris, he made his first recording of Kodaly’s Sonata in B minor for solo cello. The recording earned him the Grand Prix du Disque. He went on to make three more recordings of the work.
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 City to become principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera under Fritz Reiner. It was in New York that Starker made the first of his recordings of the Bach Cello Suites.
In 1953, Starker became principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when Fritz Reiner became the music director. In 1958, Starker moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where he settled for the rest of his life. At the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music he became a professor and resumed his solo career.
Janos Starker died in April of 2013 at age 88.
Have a listen and enjoy the concert.