Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons was born in Riga on 14 January 1943, where his Jewish singer mother, Iraida Jansons, was in hiding from the Nazis. He studied violin with his father, conductor Arvīds Jansons, who became assistant to Yevgeny Mravinsky at the Leningrad Philharmonic.
Mariss Jansons studied piano and conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory, then studied in Vienna with Hans Swarowsky and in Salzburg with Herbert von Karajan.
He was associate conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic from 1973, and music director of the Oslo Philharmonic from 1979 until 2000. From 1992 he was principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic, and also worked as a guest conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra. From 1997 until 2004 he was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. From 2002 until 2015 he was chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
He was chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2003 until his death from heart disease at his home in St Petersburg on 30 November 2019, aged seventy-six.
CD Spotlight. A Transcendental Experience - Gerald Fenech is impressed by this Mahler symphony cycle from Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. 'It is absolutely mystifying how this kind of music-making is humanly possible.'
CD Spotlight. A Lovely Gesture - Stephen Francis Vasta listens to Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons' last concert. 'The home listener, even without visual evidence, can sense that all was not well.'
CD Spotlight. Resplendent Sound - Stephen Francis Vasta has mixed feelings about Mariss Jansons' 2008 recording of Bruckner's 'Romantic' Symphony. 'I enjoyed the focus and resonance of the bass strings, providing a solid support for the full orchestra; the lovely clarity of the woodwind principals - the bright, forward oboes and clarinets suggest the organ's reed stops - and the brass choir's full-bodied depth.'
CD Spotlight. Fierce Criticism - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by Rodion Shchedrin and Ottorino Respighi. '... a fitting tribute to Mariss Jansons ...'
CD Spotlight. Thus Conducted Mariss Jansons - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė discovers a unique listening experience on one of the Latvian conductor's last recordings, featuring Daniil Trifonov and the music of Richard Strauss. '... this maverick CD contains contrasting faces of Richard Strauss, Trifonov's virtuoso skills and one of the last memories of Mariss Jansons' conducting.'
CD Spotlight. A Dynamic Vitality - Music for organ and orchestra by Saint-Saëns and Poulenc, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'A hugely enjoyable album, well worth hearing ...'
Ensemble. A Funeral March - Tchaikovsky's 'The Queen of Spades' at Salzburg impresses Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Sex and Violence in Salzburg - Giuseppe Pennisi reports on Shostakovich's 'Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District'
CD Spotlight. Many Fine Things - Mariss Jansons conducts Prokofiev, heard by Stephen Francis Vasta. '... round and solidly grounded ...'
CD Spotlight. Very Satisfying - Sibelius from Munich, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... the orchestra responds superbly to Jansons.'
CD Spotlight. First Class - Bruckner's Ninth, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... it has all the power it needs. It moves forward and does not get bogged down ...'
Record Box. An Impressive Crispness - The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra plays Stravinsky, heard by Patric Standford
Ensemble. Intense Leadership - Sierra, Ginastera and Rachmaninov conducted by Alasdair Neale, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
CD Spotlight. Flawlessly Performed - Shostakovich's Symphony No 10, chosen by Howard Smith. '... the results are very special.'
DVD Spotlight. Shostakovich's Shocker - 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk', reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... fully appropriate disorder ...'
Treading new ground - Renowned American baritone Thomas Hampson shows a new side in Munich. Tess Crebbin investigates