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Cellist, IU professor Janos Starker dies

Janos Starker, a Hungarian-born master of the cello who emerged from the devastation of World War II to became known as one of the most rivetingly powerful instrumentalists of his generation, died April 28 at a hospice in Bloomington, Ind. He was 88.

Indiana University, where Starker taught for more than five decades, announced his death but did not disclose the cause.

Starker had performed with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic five times since 1972, according to the Philharmonic. In his last Fort Wayne Philharmonic appearance in 1997, he performed with his son-in-law, violinist William Preucil, the concertmaster for the Cleveland Orchestra.

For decades, Starker was one of the most sought-after cellists in the world. He was venerated as a soloist – and particularly as an interpreter of Bach – and was equally revered as a chamber musician and teacher.

The son of a Jewish tailor, Starker was a child prodigy who began his musical training in Budapest during the interlude between the two world wars. During the second, Starker survived internment in a Nazi work camp, where he said he practiced the cello in his head. His brothers, both of whom played the violin, perished during the war.

After the Holocaust, he was “unafraid of anyone because he concluded that nothing worse could possibly happen to him,” biographer Joyce Geeting wrote in “Janos Starker: ‘King of Cellists’ ” (2008).

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