Mariss Jansons celebrates his 75th Birthday!
By Opera Views, January 14th, 2018
Mariss Jansons Debut as an opera conductor at the last summer Salzburg Festival with the new production of Dmitry Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth from Mzensk” marked his 38th appearance with this renown opera festival and sealed his solid reputation as a true master, a real magician of the sound and dynamic intensity. His thoughtful, almost physically perceptible interpretation of this great piece of an operatic repertoire impressed not only by exceptional detail-study but also by his boundlessly personal emotional involvement with the story, plot and singers.
This boundlessness came with a severe cost for Jansons, as he suffered in 1996 a heart attack during the performance of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème” in Oslo, which he barely survived. This dramatic accident almost had the similar outcome as to his farther´s Arvids Jansons, a celebrated conductor in the Soviet Union, who had succumbed in 1984 to a heart attack suffered at the podium. Jansons survived, and we can be only grateful for this turn of the fate since we would miss one of the greatest conductors of our time.
Jansons was born in 1943 in Riga, as the son of the Latvian conductor Arvīds Jansons. His mother Iraida, a Jewish singer, gave his birth in a hiding place escaping the terror of Riga Ghetto, where her father and brother had died. In 1969 Jansons continued his education with Hans Swarowsky and Herbert von Karajan in Austria, the legendary Russian conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky made then the just 30-year-old in 1973 to be his assistant and Deputy Conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic.
Since then Jansons has been assigned to the “Russian School”. His predilection for Dmitri Shostakovich is also due to his great teacher, who had premiered several works by the composer. From 1979 to 2000 he was director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1992, he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 1997 Chief Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Since autumn 2003 he succeeds Lorin Maazel as chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio and Symphony Orchestra of the Bayerischer Rundfunk. Since September 2004 he has also been principal conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, succeeding Riccardo Chailly. In January 2006 he was awarded Cannes Classical Award as Artist of the Year in Cannes at the Midem.
In February 2006, Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio and Symphony Orchestra received a Grammy in the category “Best Orchestral Performance” for the recording of the 13th Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich. In May 2006 he received the “Three Star Order”, the highest award of the Republic of Latvia. In 2007 he was honoured by the German Phono Academy with the Echo Klassik 2007. In the same year, Jansons was awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit and in 2009 he received the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art. In 2010 he received the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. In June 2013, Jansons was awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. On the day of the German Unification 2013, he received from Federal President Joachim Gauck the Great Cross of Merit with the star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
On 23 November 2017, Mariss Jansons was awarded the Gold Medal of the British Concert Society from London Royal Philharmonic Society, considered one of the most prestigious awards in classical music. On 24 November 2017 Jansons accepted the medal from the pianist Mitsuko Uchida at a guest concert with the Sinfony Orchestra of the Bavaria Radio at the Barbican Hall in London. Jansons is the 104th carrier in the almost 150-year history of the award.