Steven Staryk

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Steven Staryk
Born(1932-04-27)April 27, 1932

Steven Sam Staryk, OC (born 27 April 1932) is a Canadian violin virtuoso.[1][2] He had a distinguished solo career and was concertmaster of several major orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Staryk was offered the concertmaster position with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra but chose to pursue solo work at that time. He appeared frequently as soloist in violin concertos with these orchestras. Staryk also had an extensive and awarded teaching career.


Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada[3] of Ukrainian descent, began his musical education at 7 years old at the Harbord Collegiate Institute. He pursued further violin studies with Albert Pratz at The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) and in New York City.

As a renowned teacher, orchestral and chamber musician, and international soloist, he is considered to be the leading Canadian-born violinist of his generation. He is listed in The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada[4] and 23 international publications including The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Awards include the Shevchenko Medal, the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, an honorary doctorate of letters from Toronto's York University, and arts awards from the Canada Council.

In 1951, he was one of the Symphony Six who were denied permission to enter the United States.

He was runner-up to Salvatore Accardo in the International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva, 1956. No first prize was awarded that year.

Again, he was runner-up at the Carl Flesch International Competition in London where only one prize is awarded.

He became concertmaster of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham at the age of 24, the youngest ever, from 1957-1960, earning the title "king of concertmasters" from The Strad magazine.[5] He went on to serve as concertmaster of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw under Bernard Haitink from 1960-1963,[6][7] as well as the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra,[8] the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Jean Martinon from 1963-1967, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Davis from 1982-1987. Staryk performed many violin concertos from the standard repertoire with these orchestras.

Staryk was offered the concertmaster position with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1963 but chose to pursue solo work at that time.[9] Later that same year, George Szell persuaded him to accept the concertmaster position with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Martinon.

Staryk is a well known master teacher and many of his pupils hold various positions in major orchestras, chamber groups and professional music schools around the world. He has taught at the Amsterdam Conservatory, Northwestern University and the American Conservatory in Chicago. He became the youngest full professor at Oberlin College Conservatory in Ohio from 1968-1972. He served as head of the string department at the Vancouver Academy of Music from 1972-1975 and taught at the University of Victoria. Other teaching posts include the University of Ottawa, the University of Western Ontario from 1977-1981, The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), and the University of Toronto from 1982-1987. His teaching career culminated with the University of Washington in Seattle from 1987-1997 which conferred on him its Distinguished Teaching Award, the first ever accorded to a Professor in its School of Music. Among his notable students are violinist Lenny Solomon and composer Marc Sabat.

He was a member of the Oberlin String Quartet, a founding member of Quartet Canada at University of Western Ontario (together with pianist Ronald Turini, cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi and violist Gerald Stanick) and led the CBC String Quartet and formed the Staryk-Perry Duo (with pianist John Perry).

Staryk served as the first Canadian adjudicator for the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1982.

His discography of over 190 compositions ranks him as one of the most prolific recording violinists on the world stage and the most recorded classical Canadian musician to date. (James Creighton: Discography of the Violin)

In 1987, Staryk appeared as the adult composer/violinist in the two-hour docu-drama film Vivaldi.

In 2000 he co-authored a book with Thane Lewis about his life as a professional musician in Fiddling With Life: The Unusual Journey of Steven Staryk.

The prestigious Gramophone of London provides a succinct summary: "Staryk is among the great ones."

In 2007 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2008 received an Honorary Fellowship from the Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto).

In March 2009, Staryk started distribution of his recently completed 30-CD anthology of his performances from 1952 to 2003.


  1. ^ The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. "Steven Staryk, O.C." Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  2. ^ The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean (9 February 2008). "Canada Gazette, Part I, Vol. 142, No. 6" (PDF). Governor General of Canada. Government House. p. 6 (256 in the Canada Gazette). Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  3. ^ "Steven Staryk Biography". Ovationpress. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  4. ^ John Berke, Betty Nygaard King. "Steven Staryk". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  5. ^ Meet Steven Staryk.
  6. ^ Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major.
  7. ^ Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61.
  8. ^ Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra.
  9. ^ The Art of Leadership: Steven Staryk.

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