The famous cellist János Starker has died, at the age of 88, Limelight Magazine has reported. Born in Budapest, in 1924, Starker was a child prodigy, who had five cello pupils of his own by the age of 12. He made his professional debut as a teenager, aged 14, when he was given just three hours notice to stand in for a soloist playing the Dvořák concerto. Starker, a Jew, spent the war time years in Budapest, where he was forced to spend three months in an internment camp. He escaped the fate of his brothers, who were killed by the Nazis.

Starker’s career began to flourish after the war, when he became the principal cellist of the Budapest Philharmonic. However, he left in 1946, when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union. The following year, he was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque, for his recording of the Kodaly Cello Sonata. Subsequently, his burgeoning fame allowed him to move to the United States in 1948. Starting out in Dallas, he later moved to New York and then Chicago, in 1952, where he became principal cellist of the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra.

1958 saw Starker resume his solo career. He continued to play and make recordings until 2001, notching up over 160 recordings in his career/. He built up a solid reputation throughout his years of performing and he passed on his motto “Create excitement. Don't get excited” to his many pupils.