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When he temporarily led two renowned orchestras together with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Amsterdam Concertgebouworkest, he was even considered to be the world's best conductor. At the age of 76, Mariss Jansons has now died.
Recently, he had several health problems. In June 2019 Jansons said on medical recommendation scheduled concerts for several weeks, including at the Salzburg Festival. Already in November 2018 he had to cancel concerts because of illness. Already in 1996, the conductor had suffered a heart attack in a performance of Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Boheme" in Oslo, which he barely survived.
In the Norwegian capital, Jansons had laid the foundation for his world career. From 1979 to 2000, he served as Principal Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, which he shaped with sparkling energy and iron bandmaster discipline to an international top orchestra. Yet, Jansons was never the prototype of the soul-wallowing orchestra conductor, who overwhelmed his audience with sound masses. Rather, he brought details to light that made many well-known pieces appear in a new guise. Also through much praised CD recordings made Jansons in Oslo attention.
In 1997 he took over the musical direction of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from the hands of Lorin Maazel. In 2003, he changed again, as Maazel's successor, to the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, to which he brought a lasting high to this day. He additionally took over the management of the Concertgebouworkest in Amsterdam in 2004. In the same year he might have had the opportunity to become head of the Berliner Philharmoniker. But in the end he stayed true to his Munich orchestra, with whom he was associated with something like a love and life relationship. In 2018 his contract was extended until 2024.
Mariss Jansons was born in 1943 in the ghetto of Riga. His father Arvid Jansons was also a conductor, his Jewish mother Iraida a mezzo-soprano. After studying with the legendary conductor trainer Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg, the great Russian conductor Yevgeny Mrawinski made the young Jansons his assistant. The then head of the Leningrad Philharmonic decisively influenced the style and repertoire of the young conductor. Since then Jansons has been assigned to the "Russian School". His predilection for Dimitri Shostakovich was also due to his teacher, who had premiered several works by the composer.
Jansons was regarded as a meticulous craftsman, as a workaholic, which occasionally only his wife Irina, a trained doctor, was able to bring out behind his scores. He cultivated a wide repertoire from Baroque through Classicism and Romanticism to moderate Modernism, which made some interpretations somewhat interchangeable. In addition to Shostakovich's stylistically torn symphonies, his opera "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" was one of Jansons' body and stomach pieces, in which his detailed work was particularly effective.
Again and again the conductor confessed that opera was actually the most important to him. With "Eugene Onegin" and "Pique Dame" by Peter Tchaikovsky master interpretations reach him. But since his 1996 heart attack – his father had died of heart failure on the podium in 1984 – his opera appearances were rare events that music fans from all over the world made a pilgrimage to.
Jansons has received many honors, he is the recipient of the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize (2013) and the Opus Klassik for the Lifetime Achievement (2019), and has been named an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna and the Royal Academy of Music in London. He is also an honorary member of the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic. The Republic of Latvia awarded him the Order "Three Stars".
In 2017, Jansons received the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society, one of the highest honors for classical music. "Mariss Jansons is one of the greatest musicians of our time, his orchestra is a powerful combination of discipline and inspiration, and his outstanding performances are naturally faithful to the nuances of the score as they are filled with new discoveries and insights into the heart of the music "It was then justification. Jansons conducted the famous New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic three times – a special honor for every conductor.
Apart from music making, Jansons seldom appeared, apart from his tireless efforts for a new concert hall in Munich. The house, which is still in the planning stage, will once serve as a new home for the BR Symphony Orchestra.