»He is the best of all of us!«, Sir Simon Rattle once said about his colleague Mariss Jansons, who was Chief Conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (BRSO) for 16 years. The Latvian conductor died in his home town of St. Petersburg on 1 December 2019, aged 76. In the previous years, Jansons had appeared at the Elbphilharmonie with different orchestras: in addition to the Vienna Philharmonic, he came to Hamburg no fewer than four times with the BRSO.
And in January 2018, just before his 75th birthday, he didn’t miss the opportunity to give a much-acclaimed concert in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall with his »Rolls-Royce among orchestras«. The programme featured Richard Strauss’s symphonic poem »Also sprach Zarathustra«, inspired by the philosopher Nietzsche, and Prokofiev’s mighty Fifth Symphony.
»A concert is like a cosmic rocket: the preparation is the first stage, the rehearsals in the concert hall the second, and then you need a third stage to get up into space. The best that I can offer, combined with the best the orchestra has to offer.«
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
conductor Mariss Jansons
Also sprach Zarathustra
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, op. 100
Mariss Jansons: Biography
The beginnings: Born in 1943 in Riga, the capital of Latvia, as the son of conductor Arvīda Jansons, Mariss Jansons graduated from the conservatoire in what was then Leningrad in violin, piano and conducting. He went on to pursue further studies with Hans Swarowsky and Herbert von Karajan.
Debut as a conductor: In 1971 Yevgeny Mravinsky appointed him his assistant with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, now known as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Mariss Jansons maintained a close bond with this renowned orchestra as its resident conductor until 1999.
International success: From 1979 to 2000 he was Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, which he turned into a top international orchestra. He was also Chief Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1992–1997) and Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (1997–2004). In 2003 Mariss Jansons was appointed Chief Conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and of the Bavarian Radio Choir. Parallel to his duties there, he was also in charge of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam as its principal conductor from 2004 to 2015, when the orchestra awarded him the title of honorary conductor.
Life’s work: Mariss Jansons received many awards in recognition of his services to music, among them the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, the Order of the Federal Republic of Germany with a star, and the gold medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society – one of the music world’s most prestigious awards.