Mariss Jansons, 1943-2019

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Mariss Jansons. The Latvian maestro and Chief Conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra passed away at his home in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 30. Mariss Jansons was well-regarded internationally for leading Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as helping to bring new renown to the Oslo Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His musicality and detailed knowledge combined with a passionate and expressive conducting style made him one of the most sought after guest conductors of orchestras around the world. Mariss Jansons will perhaps be most remembered for his warm-heartedness towards his colleagues and the orchestral musicians he led. It has been wonderful to work with him for many years and we send our condolences to his family.

From The New York Times:

Mariss Jansons, a renowned conductor who brought new distinction to orchestras in Oslo and Pittsburgh before taking the helm of two of Europe’s finest ensembles, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra of Munich and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, died on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was 76.

The Amsterdam orchestra was among those announcing his death. He had been in failing health recently, and had long dealt with heart problems. In 1996, he collapsed onstage in Norway while conducting the Oslo Philharmonic after having a severe heart attack.

“Mariss Jansons was an extraordinarily inspiring musician who gave us innumerable wonderful moments,” Jan Raes, managing director of the Concertgebouw, which Mr. Jansons led from 2004 to 2015, said in a statement on the group’s website.

Before taking the Concertgebouw post, Mr. Jansons was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2004, delivering performances that were technically brilliant but notably expressive.

He also spent more than two decades as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic, beginning in 1979. He was widely credited with bringing that orchestra to international prominence. He was also principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1990s.

In 2008, Gramophone, the classical music magazine, asked a panel of music critics to rank the best orchestras in the world. The Concertgebouw was No. 1 on the list; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra was No. 6. Mr. Jansons was chief conductor of both at the time.

In 2013 the critic Anne Midgette of The Washington Post called him simply “the greatest living conductor.”