Mariss Jansons N


What is Mariss Jansons’s secret? How does he consistently manage to take his orchestras to a higher level and garner international recognition? In the December 2008 issue of Gramophone, he described his approach as follows: ‘It’s my task to find out the orchestra’s special qualities and preserve them. Then, if through a natural process my own individuality adds something – and theirs to me – that will be fine.’ And fine it most certainly is, a fact that became readily apparent after his appointment as chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra back in 2004.

Music runs in Mariss Jansons’s blood. His father was a conductor and his mother an opera singer. When Jansons was just a boy, the family moved to St Petersburg where he later studied violin and conducting. He continued his studies with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. In 1973, Jansons was appointed Yevgeny Mravinsky’s assistant with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, which Jansons’s father Arvīds had also conducted. From 1979 to 2000, he served as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, bringing it great international acclaim.

Jansons has made numerous appearances throughout the world as a guest conductor of the Berlin, the Vienna and the London Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as the leading orchestras in the US. Jansons was appointed music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1997 (a post he held until 2004) and music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2003. Since making his first guest appearance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on 28 October 1988, he returned nearly every year thereafter and was appointed its chief conductor in 2004. He is the sixth conductor to hold the post since the orchestra was founded in 1888.

Jansons has received many distinctions for his achievements, including honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. He is also the recipient of the Austrian Decoration of Honour for Science and Art, the Latvian Three-Star Order and the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. In 2013, Mariss Jansons was awarded the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize and the German Grand Merit Cross. On 1 November 2013, twenty-five years after making his first appearance with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, he was made a Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands.


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