Mariss Jansons, 1943-2019
Mariss Jansons ranks among the outstanding podium personalities of our time. His orchestral work is recognized not only because of his busy touring activities but also because of television and radio broadcasts world-wide, also documented by a sizable number of recordings.
Mariss Jansons has been the Chief Conductor of the Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks since 2003. After several exceptionally successful seasons, his contract was prolonged until 2018. In 2004 he became the chief conductor of the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest in Amsterdam so at present he holds both prestigious positions of a chief conductor at both orchestras.
Mariss Jansons succeeds Eugen Jochum, Rafael Kubelík, Sir Colin Davis and Lorin Maazel as the fifth Chief Conductor of these two eminent ensembles. In 2004, Mariss Jansons also assumed the post of Chief Conductor of the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest in Amsterdam as the sixth Chief Conductor succeeding Willem Kes, Willem Mengelberg, Eduard van Beinum, Bernard Haitink and Riccardo Chailly.
Born in 1943 in the Latvian capital of Riga, Mariss Jansons grew up in the Soviet Union as the son of conductor Arvids Jansons. He studied violin, viola and piano and graduated with honors from the Leningrad Conservatory with a degree in conducting. Studies in Vienna with Hans Swarowsky and in Salzburg with Herbert von Karajan followed. In 1971, Mariss Jansons emerged as a prize winner from the conducting competition of the Herbert von Karajan Foundation in Berlin.
He was decisively influenced by the legendary Russian conductor Evgeny Mravinsky, who brought Mariss Jansons to the Leningrad Philharmonic as his assistant in 1971. Thereafter Mariss Jansons was closely associated with this orchestra, today’s St. Petersburg Philharmonic, until 1999 as regular conductor and led the orchestra during this period on tours world-wide.
Besides his conducting duties, Mariss Jansons has served for almost 30 years, from 1971 until 2000, as professor of conducting at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. He holds honorary doctorates from the music academies in Oslo (2003), Riga (2006) and the Royal Academy of Music in London (1999).
From 1979 to 2000 Mariss Jansons set standards as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, which he shaped into a top international orchestra. Besides this he was Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1992‑1997) and Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (1997‑2004). With his two orchestras in Oslo and Pittsburgh Mariss Jansons went on several tours to the most important music centers of the world as well as making regular visits to the festivals in Salzburg, Lucerne, the London Proms, etc.
Beyond this he has successfully collaborated with all the major orchestras of the world, among them the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich and the Dresden Staatskapelle.
Of particular significance are his collaborations with the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. Jansons has conducted these orchestras regularly in Vienna and Berlin as well as on tour throughout Europe, the United States and Japan. With these two and other orchestras he is a regular guest artist at the Salzburg Festival.
As Chief Conductor, Mariss Jansons has led a number of concerts with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks at home and abroad, enthusiastically received by audiences and highly praised by the press. Jansons and the orchestra make regular guest appearances in the most important musical capitals of the world: New York, London, Tokyo, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Zurich and Brussels, among other cities, as well as at such festivals as Salzburg, Lucerne, the London Proms, the Edinburgh Festival, the Berlin Festival and others. The Symphonieorchester und Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Mariss Jansons’s direction are annually invited to serve as Orchestra in Residence at the Easter Festival in Lucerne.
In 2007 Mariss Jansons joined forces with the Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks to give a concert for Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.
In the autumn of 2005 Jansons and the orchestra undertook their first joint Japan-China tour and were singled out by the Japanese press for the “Best Concerts of the Season”. In 2006 and 2009, Mariss Jansons gave several triumphantly successful concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Regular guest appearances have likewise taken Jansons with the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest to the leading music centers and the most prestigious festivals such as the ones in Salzburg, Lucerne, the Proms in London, Edinburgh and the Berlin Festival. The guest concerts during the Japan tour in 2004 were hailed as the “Best Concerts of the Season” in Japan.
Mariss Jansons places considerable significance on his work with young musicians. He has conducted the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra on its Europe‑wide tour and worked with the Attersee Institute Orchestra, with which he appeared at the Salzburg Festival. In Munich he gives regular concerts with various Bavarian youth orchestras and the Academy of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Mariss Jansons was the Artistic Director of the Masterpiece Competition for Contemporary Music in London.
Mariss Jansons’s discography comprises recordings for EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, SONY, BMG, Chandos and Simax with works by Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Berlioz, Bartók, Britten, Dukas, Dvořák, Grieg, Haydn, Henze, Honegger, Mahler, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Respighi, Saint‑Saëns, Shostakovich, Schönberg, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Strauss, Shchedrin, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Webern and Weill. Many of his recordings have received prestigious international prizes. The first grand success was the Tchaikovsky cycle with the Oslo Philharmonic for Chandos, a reference recording, which has now reached cult status.
The recording of Schostakovich’s Seventh Symphony with the Leningrad Philharmonic won the 1999 Edison Prize, the recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Michael Rudy and the same orchestra won the Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque in 1991.
Mariss Jansons’s recording of Dvořák’s Fifth Symphony with the Oslo Philharmonic was singled out with the Penguin Award, and his interpretations of Gustav Mahler’s First and Ninth Symphonies with the same orchestra (2003) and Mahler’s Sixth with the London Symphony Orchestra (2004) were awarded the »Toblacher Komponierhäuschen« in special recognition of the best Mahler interpretations of our time.
In 2005 Mariss Jansons concluded his complete recording of the Shostakovich symphonies for EMI Classics, in which several different top orchestras took part. The cycle was completed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. The recording of the Symphony No. 4 was awarded a number of prizes, among them the Diapason d’Or and the Prize of the German Recording Critics. The Symphonies Nos. 5 and 8 received the German ECHO Klassik Prize in 2006 for the best symphonic recording (1999 and 2002). In 2005 the recording of the Symphony No. 13 was awarded a Grammy for the best orchestral performance, as well as the 2006 ECHO Klassik Prize for the best for best symphonic recording. In 2006, to mark the composer’s 100th birthday a box with all the symphonies was released. This complete recording was honored with the Annual Prize of the German Recording Critics, the Annual Prize from Le Monde de la Musique, as well as the prizes for Recording of the Year and Best Symphonic Recording at the 2007 MIDEM in Cannes.
In 2008, there followed the ECHO Klassik for the best symphonic recording of the 20th/21st centuries. Mariss Jansons also received the “Prize from the German Recording Critics” several times (1994, ’95, ’97, ’99, 2002, ’05)
Under the title “Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks Live” SONY BMG released seven CD’s with live concert recordings with works by Bartók, Britten, Haydn, Ravel, Schönberg, Shchedrin, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Webern.
The “BR-Klassik” label, founded in 2008, has thus far released CD’s and DVD’s with the Symphonieorchester und Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Mariss Jansons featuring works by Bartók, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Haydn, Schönberg, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.
The Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the direction of Mariss Jansons received the 2010 ECHO Klassik as “Ensemble of the Year” for their recording of the Seventh Symphony by Bruckner.
The Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest’s own label has a wide repertoire of CD’s and DVD’s, with works by Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Henze, Honegger, Mahler, Mussorgsky, Poulenc, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich. Sibelius, Strauss, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. The DVD recording of Shostakovich’s opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” alone won the following prizes following its release in 2006: Diapason d’Or de l’Année (2007), Prize of the German Recording Critics (2007 Best List), 10 de Classica Repertoire (2006), ffff télérama (2007) CHOC du Monde de la Musique (2007), Caecilia Prijs (2007), Grand Prix du Disque Lyrique, Edison (2007). Likewise in 2007, the recording of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony with the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest won the Prize of the British BBC Music Magazine and the Edison Prize in the Netherlands, while the recorded performance of Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique” received the Dutch Luister Prize.
Mariss Jansons has been awarded a number of international prizes and accolades. He is an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, and in Russia has holds the honorary title: “People’s Artist of Russia”.
In Norway he was awarded the top-ranking “Medal of St. Hallvard”, the highest award presented by of the City of Oslo for his devoted efforts with the Oslo Philharmonic the “Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit” (1998) and “Commander with Star” (1994),– the highest award presented to a foreigner. In 1984 he received the Lindemann Prize from the Norwegian Music Academy, in 1990 the Culture Prize from the City of Oslo, in 1991 he received an award from the Paul Harris Fellowship (Rotary International) as well as the Anders Jahre Culture Prize.
In 1995, he received the Latvian Award of Merit for Music. In 1996 he was “EMI Artist of the Year”. In 2003, Mariss Jansons received the Hans von Bülow Medal from the Berlin Philharmonic. In May of 2004 he was honored by London’s Royal Philharmonic Society as “Conductor of the Year”, in 2006 he was declared “Artist of the Year” at MIDEM, the International Music Trade Fair in Cannes, and the conductor was awarded the “3 Stars” medal, the highest honor presented by the Republic of Latvia. In 2007, the city of Vienna presented him with the “Golden Cross of Honor for Services to the Federal State of Vienna”. Additionally he received the 2007 ECHO Klassik from the German Phono Academy as “Conductor of the Year”. That same year, Bavaria’s Governor Edmund Stoiber presented him with the Bavarian Order of Merit, and the Pro Europa Foundation awarded him the European Conducting Prize. Beyond this, that same year he received the “Baltic Stars” award for the Development and Strengthening of Humanitarian Connections to the nations of the Baltic Region. In 2009 the Austrian Culture Ministry on behalf of Federal Austrian President Heinz Fischer awarded him the “Austrian Cross of Honor for Scholarship and Art”, and the Rumanian State President Traian Basescu appointed him a “Mertul Cultural Cavalier”. In 2010 he received the Bavarian Order of Maximilian for Scholarship and Art.
For outstanding achievement to the town of Amsterdam he was honored with the “IJ Award” >in 2012.
In 2006, the French “Monde de la musique” placed the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest in second place in the European Ranking, and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks received sixth place. In 2008 a questionnaire from the British magazine “Gramophone” selected the two orchestras conducted by Mariss Jansons among the ten best orchestras of the world. The Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest was in first place and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks came in at sixth place. In 2008 Japanese magazine “Record Geijutsu” likewise selected the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest at 3rd place world-wide, and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks at 4th place. “Focus” magazine in Germany ranked the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest in first place in 2009, while selecting the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks for 2nd place. In 2010 the Japanese magazine “Mostly Classic” rated the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest at 3rd place and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks at 4th place.
“Opernwelt” magazine selected Mariss Jansons “Conductor of the Year” in 2011 for his production of “Evgeny Onegin” with the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest.
On January 1st, 2006, Mariss Jansons conducted the traditional New Year’s concert of the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time – it was telecast by 60 different networks on every continent and seen by more than 500 million televiewers. His “début” was wildly cheered by press and public, and has been released as a CD and DVD by Deutsche Grammophon. The CD recording reached double platinum and the DVD gold status. In 2012, Mariss Jansons again assumed the direction of this internationally renowned concert. Once again the releases by Sony were extraordinarily successful reaching platinum for the DVD and double platinum for the CD.
January 2013 Mariss Jansons was awarded the “Ernst-von-Siemens-Musikpreis”, one of the world-wide most important and renown awards for music.
On the occasion of his 70th birthday the Bayerischer Rundfunk honoured him with the “Medal of Merits of the Bayerischer Rundfunk”.
For outstanding achievements to his hometown Mariss Jansons received the “Medal of Merit of St. Petersburg” awarded by the Municipality of St. Petersburg on March 31st , 2013.
October 2013 the President of the Federal Republic of Germany bestowed the “German Federal Cross of Merit with Star” on Mariss Jansons for his outstanding services to the German culture. As a conductor of the world’s best orchestras and due to his strong support of contemporary music and young talents he belongs to the great artists of our times.
On 1st November 2013 Mariss Jansons was made a “Knight of the Lion of the Netherlands” for his profound contribution he has made to Dutch musical life and the vitality with which he conveys this with the Concertgebouw Orchestra to the world.
February 2015 the French Ministry for Culture appointed Mariss Jansons as “Comandeur des Arts et des Lettres”, the highest cultural award of the French Republic. In the same month he became the “Conductor of Honour” of the Koniklijk Concertgebjouworkest. For his Life Achievement Mariss Jansons was honoured in March 2015 with the “Latvia Great Music Award.”