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Janos Starker Sheet Music and Personal Papers Collection

Identifier: CC 0017

Scope and Contents

This collection contains sheet music owned by cellist and instructor János Starker. Publication and composition dates range from the late 19th century through the early 21st century, with the bulk of materials falling to the middle of the 20th century. A number of the musical scores were written for, or sent directly to Starker and some amount of correspondence is attached to these items. The personal papers component of this collection includes a wide array of concert programs, photographs, correspondence, and writings both by and about Starker.


  • 1890 - 2013

Biographical / Historical

János Starker was born in Budapest, Hungary on July 5th, 1924. A child prodigy, Starker gave his first public performance at age 6 after being gifted a cello by his parents only a year earlier. At 11, he entered the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, where he studied under cellist Adolf Schiffer. His professional career began soon after, when at the age of 14 he was invited with only three hours’ notice to perform Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191, a performance in which Starker took the place of another soloist who unexpectedly was unable to perform. In 1939, Starker left the Liszt Academy of Music and remained in Budapest where he accepted the position of principal cellist of the Budapest Opera and the Budapest Philharmonic.

Following the end of the second World War, during which he spent three months in a Nazi internment camp, Starker left Hungary for Vienna, and later traveled to Paris where he dedicated himself fully to improving the technical aspects of his cello playing. Upon leaving Paris, Starker emigrated to the United States in 1948 where he became the principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under conductor and composer Antal Doráti. In 1949, he moved to New York City, where he spent the next four years as the principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera. Again in 1953, Starker relocated to Chicago where he became a full-time teacher and concert soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under conductor Fritz Reiner. Five years later, Starker finally settled in Bloomington, Indiana where he remained until the end of his life.

Starker also received high praise for his career as a recording artist, which began in 1948 with the release of Zoltán Kodály’s Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello Op. 8, an LP produced by Period Records. This release earned him the Grand Prix du Disque award, and an international recognition. Through the remainder of his career Starker continued to record a great many albums, building a discography that boasts over 165 releases. In 1997, Starker was awarded a Grammy for his rendition of Bach’s Suites for Solo Cello on the RCA Victor Red Seal label. And notably, Starker’s interpretation of Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello, which he recorded four times (1948, 1950, 1956 and 1970), is still considered to be among the most authoritative interpretations of the composition.

In 1958, Starker began teaching at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he held the position of Professor of Cello and attracted a great number of ambitious students through the years. In 1979, Starker established the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at the Jacobs School of Music to honor his late friend and fellow cellist, and to provide scholarships to assist young cello students. Additionally, he was later awarded the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award as a distinguished teacher and performing artist, as well as the title of Distinguished Professor. His tenure with the Jacobs School of Music lasted for the remainder of his lifetime, until his death in late April, 2013.


30 Linear Feet

Language of Materials




János Starker (1924 - 2013) was a Hungarian-American cellist, music educator, and recording artist. Having performed over 5000 concerts as a soloist, he is remembered for his expert technique and prowess as a performer. Additionally, Starker was a revered teacher and held the title of Distinguished Professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Included in the János Starker Sheet Music and Personal Papers Collection is a wide array of musical scores accumulated by Starker throughout his lifetime, along with a sizable collection of his personal papers.

Janos Starker Sheet Music and Personal Papers Collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Repository

P.O. Box 26170
320 College Ave.
Greensboro NC 27402-6170 US