Just seen this news on Norman Lebrecht’s ‘Slipped Disk site – “… The great cellist and teacher Janos Starker died today at 5am. He was 88 years old and had been in terminal care for the last few weeks.
Budapest born, to Jewish parents who arrived from Poland and Russia after the first world war, Janos began teaching other kids at eight years old. He studied with Bartok, Kodaly and Dohnanyi at the Liszt Academy and was fortunate to survive a Nazi camp; his older brothers were killed.
He left Communist Hungary in 1946, reaching the US two years later. After serving as principal cello in Dallas, the Met and ultimately the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he resumed a solo career in 1958 and took up teaching at Indiana University. His pupils include numerous soloists and principals in major orchestras. He appears as soloist on 160 recordings.”
This joke was frequently told by Starker to his students:
Three cellists die and ascend to the pearly gates, where they are greeted by St. Peter. Cellist number one requests entry into Heaven.
“With whom did you study?” St. Peter asks.
“Leonard Rose,” he says.
“Sorry.” says St. Peter. “Please go to hell.”
Cellist number two asks to enter. St. Peter again asks,
With whom did you study?”
Second cellist answers, “Rostropovich.”
“Sorry,” says St. Peter. “Please go to hell.”
Cellist number three nervously asks to enter the gates to Heaven.
St. Peter asks now impatiently,
“With whom did you study?”
“Janos Starker,” he says.
“Come in, welcome!” says St Peter, now smiling.
“You’ve already been through hell!”