Press overview

Mariss Jansons 1943-2019

01 December 2019

former chief conductor of the Concertgebouworkest passed away on 1 December 2019

Mariss Jansons (foto: Marco Bogrreve)
Mariss Jansons (photo: Marco Bogrreve)

The Concertgebouworkest mourns the death of its beloved conductor emeritus, Mariss Jansons, last night in St.-Petersburg. Mariss Jansons was chief conductor of orchestra from 2004 to 2015, after which he returned several times as a guest conductor. The music world has lost a great conductor, we have lost a tremendously inspirational musician and also a warm and humble man. We and send his family and his dear wife Irina our deepest condolences. 

Condolence register

From Tuesday 3 to Friday 6 December between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., a condolence register at the Concertgebouworkest will allow the audience to leave a personal message of goodbye.  

Well loved by musicians and audience

Mariss Jansons has conducted the Concertgebouworkest 465 times since his debut in 1988. In 2004 he became the orchestra’s sixth chief conductor. Jansons was very committed to the orchestra and highly respected and well loved by both the musicians and the audience; the relationship between the Latvian conductor and the Concertgebouworkest was regarded a very happy and successful one by both the national and international press. Jansons knew how to bring the best out of the orchestra.

As chief conductor, Mariss Jansons put an emphasis on the great composers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, including Mahler, Strauss and Shostakovich. Jansons played an important role in the orchestra’s international tours, such as the historic 2013 World Tour, and realised many cd recordings, released on the orchestra’s label, RCO Live.

After 2015, Jansons returned to the Concertgebouworkest as guest conductor for Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame at Dutch National Opera, and for Mahler´s Symphony No. 7. In October 2017 he conducted the orchestra in works by Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Liszt. It would be his final concert with the Concertgebouworkest. Due to his heart condition he was forced to cancel a number of performances. In March 2020 Jansons was due to conduct works by Mendelssohn and Strauss. 

'Mariss Jansons was an extraordinarily inspiring musician, who gave us innumerable wonderful moments. With gratitude and pride I look back on his years of co-operation with the Concertgebouworkest. He leaves an immense void. Rest in peace, Mariss.'
- Managing director Jan Raes

'We are grateful for the beautiful years in which we were lucky enough to know Mariss Jansons as chief conductor of the Concertgebouworkest. As Maya Angelou said: "People may forget the things you do, and people may forget the things you say. But people will never forget how you made them feel." In loving memory of the beautiful concerts and the warm, loving feeling.'
- Christian van Eggelen, first violinist and chairman of employees’ association ‘Het Concertgebouworchest’ 

Biography and achievements

Jansons studied violin and conducting in St. Petersburg, and continued his studies with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. In 1973, Jansons was appointed Yevgeny Mravinsky’s assistant with the St. Petersburg orchestra, which his father Arvids had also conducted.

From 1979 to 2000, he served as music director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, bringing it great international acclaim. He was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2004 and has been music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2003. Jansons has made numerous appearances as a guest conductor of leading orchestras worldwide.

Jansons was awarded many international honours for his achievements, including Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, memberships of the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Society of Music Friends in Vienna, the Order of the Three Stars Latvia's highest state honour, the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art, the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art and the honorary membership of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

In October 2011, Opernwelt named him Conductor of the Year for his performances of Tchaikovsky’s Evgeny Onegin with the Concertgebouworkest at the Dutch National Opera. In 2012 Jansons and managing director of the Concertgebouworkest Jan Raes both received the IJ-Prize of the City of Amsterdam.

In 2013, Jansons won the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, was made a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion and received the Grand Merit Cross with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany.  

In 2019, Mariss Jansons received the Herbert von Karajan Prize at the Salzburg Easter Festival and the Opus Klassik the category ‘Lifetime Achievement’. 

To concert videos with Mariss Jansons