Born April 27, 1932 in Toronto of Ukrainian immigrant parents, Steven Staryk began his violin studies at the age of seven. The publication of his career memoirs and observations in Fiddling With Life has been lauded by reviewers and distinguished musicians. His prodigious career was a unique and extraordinary integration of related activities: soloist, pedagogue, chamber musician and concertmaster; he surpassed the summit in each and every role. The title “King of Concertmasters” was bestowed upon him by The Strad magazine after having led three major orchestras by the age of 35: the Royal Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw (the first British subject to attain a major position in continental Europe) and the Chicago Symphony. He also served as Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the CBC Symphony and the Boyd Neel Orchestra.
Staryk taught at several of the foremost music schools including the Amsterdam Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory (the youngest full professor in the institution’s history), Northwestern University (Chicago) and Toronto’s Royal Conservatory, culminating in his receiving the Distinguished Teaching Award (the first ever awarded to a professor in the University of Washington’s School of Music).
Steven Staryk was the first Canadian invited to serve on the Jury of the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow.
His memorable performances and recordings illustrate an amazing wealth of musical knowledge. These have secured him international awards and distinctions, as listed in 23 publications including The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Great Violinists, Wikipedia, etc. Other awards include the coveted Shevchenko medal, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee Medals, Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Toronto’s York University, Arts Awards from the Canada Council, an Honorary Fellowship from the Glenn Gould School of Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and Officer of the Order of Canada.
The following paragraph by violin historian, archivist, and author of the Discopaedia of the Violin, James Creighton of the University of Toronto, provides a fine summary of Staryk ‘s qualities:
His successful diversity of styles is not equalled by any other violinist. He gained a tremendous reputation and vast musical experience with such greats of our time as Beecham, Szell, Krips, Kubelik, Jochum, Kempe, Giulini, Sanderling, Rilling, Rodzinski, and a host of others. In this respect his musicianship was greatly influenced by non-violinists and developed far beyond the limitation of his instrument. The extraordinary accomplishments of this internationally-respected cosmopolitan remain unparalleled in the history of music.
In 2008, Staryk completed a 30-CD anthology of some of his recordings and performances from the years 1952-2003. This anthology’s main purpose is to provide a retrospective of over half a century which exhibits the extraordinary diversity of Staryk as soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster and pedagogue, to say nothing of the jazz fiddler, Gypsy primas, Stehgeiger, consultant and collector of many of the finest Italian violins and French bows still in existence today, “… played as well as humanly possible.” (American Record Guide)
“It is strange that Staryk’s fame didn’t spread throughout the world … a curious phenomenon within the music scene.”
“Why it took so long for the Planet Staryk to reach Earth will always remain a mystery!”
(American Sting Teachers, USA)
“… a virtuoso of the highest rank who is constantly being “discovered” by awestruck reviewers.”
(The Strad, London)
“How can one explain that this magnificent instrumentalist is not more the violinist of the general public, while his playing has the highest esteem with his colleagues!”
(Le Devoir, Montreal)