The Salzburg Festival mourns the loss of Mariss Jansons. We can only look back with the utmost gratitude to all the stellar moments he gave the Festival over the course of almost thirty years, a truly unheard-of gift.
“Thank you, dear Mariss Jansons, for the indomitable will you brought to your profession, your calling, doing it more than justice to the very end. When you stepped onto the podium, any hall in this world filled with a special tension. We always felt your great respect for the works and your profound love for the musicians you worked with. We will miss you; we already miss you today!” said festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler in her first statement.
“In Mariss Jansons, we have lost one of the pre-eminent conductors of our time and a true friend. His earnestness, his profound sensitivity, his ethical standards and artistic class gave his music a sincerity which is as rare as it is precious. Mariss Jansons’ life was one great declaration of love for music; he was one of the artist personalities who have made the Festival so very special for the past 100 years,” says artistic director Markus Hinterhäuser.
Mariss Jansons was born in Riga in 1943, the son of the conductor Arvīds Jansons. He studied the violin, piano and conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory, graduating with distinction and continuing his studies with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and with Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. In 1971 he was a prizewinner in the Karajan Foundation’s International Competition for Conductors in Berlin. That same year Evgeny Mravinsky appointed him his assistant with the Leningrad Philharmonic, now the St Petersburg Philharmonic. Mariss Jansons remained closely associated with the St Petersburg Philharmonic as its permanent conductor until 1999. Between 1979 and 2000 he set new standards as principal conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, turning it into one of the world’s leading orchestras. He was also principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic from 1992 to 1997 and music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2004.
Since 2003 Mariss Jansons has been principal conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. From 2004 until 2015 he was also principal conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, which named him its conductor emeritus in February 2015. Following his farewell concert in March 2015 he was awarded the Silver Medal of Honour of the City of Amsterdam. He also works regularly with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert for the third time in 2016.
Mariss Jansons is an honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, of the Royal Academy of Music in London and of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. For his work with the Oslo Philharmonic he was awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit. In 2003 he received the Berlin Philharmonic’s Hans von Bülow Medal and the following year was named Conductor of the Year by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London. In 2006 Midem named him Artist of the Year, while the Republic of Latvia awarded him its Order of the Three Stars. Also in 2006 his recording of Shostakovich’s Thirteenth Symphony with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra received a Grammy in the category of Best Orchestral Performance. Mariss Jansons has been awarded an Echo Klassik Award no fewer than three times: in 2007 as Conductor of the Year, in 2008 for his recording of works by Bartók and Ravel and in 2010 for his recording of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. In 2009 he received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, in 2010 Bavaria’s Maximilian Order for Science and Art. In 2013 he was presented with the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize as a lifetime achievement award, while Federal President Joachim Gauck awarded him the German Order of Merit. In 2015 he was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, in 2017 the Royal Philharmonic Society awarded him its Gold Medal, and in March 2018 he received the International Léonie Sonning Music Prize.