Robert Starer (1924-2001)
Composer, Music Critic
Robert Starer was born in Vienna in 1924 and entered the State Academy of Music at the age of 13. Soon after Hitler's annexation of Austria, he went to Jerusalem and continued his studies at the Palestine Conservatoire. During World War II, he served with the Royal British Air Force. In 1947, he came to New York for post-graduate study at the Juilliard School and studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood in 1948. He became an American citizen in 1957. He has taught at Juilliard from 1949 to 1974 and at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York from 1963 to 1991. He was named a Distinguished Professor in 1986. Among his honors are two Guggenheim Fellowships and grants from the National Endowment and the Ford Foundation. He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994, awarded the Medal of Honor for Science and Art by the President of Austria in 1995, an Honorary Doctorate by the State University of New York in 1996 and a Presidential Citation by the National Federation of Music Clubs in 1997.
His stage works include three operas with libretti by Gail Godwin and several ballets for Martha Graham. His orchestral works have been performed by major orchestras here and abroad under such conductors as Mitropoulos, Bernstein, Steinberg, and Mehta. Interpreters of his music include Janos Starker, Jaime Laredo, Paula Robison and Leontyne Price. The recording of his Violin Concerto (Itzhak Perlman with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa) was nominated for a Grammy. Excerpts from his book Continuo: A Life in Music have appeared in the New Yorker, Musical America, and the London Times. In 1997 the Overlook Press published The Music Teacher, his first work of fiction. The opening chapter was excerpted in The Keyboard Companion. CD recordings of his music are available from CRI, VOX, Albany Records, Transcontinental and MMC.