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Chief Conductor MARISS JANSONS became the sixth principal conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in September 2004. Since 1988, he has appeared on several occasions as a guest conductor in Amsterdam. Born in Latvia and currently a resident of St. Petersburg, Jansons was chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979 to 2000, during which time he raised the orchestra’s standing to international level. He subsequently held the post of music director with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to equal success. He has been principal conductor of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in Munich since September 2003, a post he combines with his position at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Born in Riga, the young Jansons moved to the city then known as Leningrad at the age of thirteen. His father, Arvid Jansons, was a renowned conductor who worked for several years as deputy to Yevgeni Mravinsky, head of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. His mother was an opera singer. Jansons studied violin, piano and orchestra conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory. In 1969, he proceeded to study under Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. Just two years later, he won the International Herbert von Karajan Competition in Berlin.
Jansons’ collaboration with the orchestra of St. Petersburg dates from 1973 when Mravinsky invited him to become his assistant. He has since then made a number of major tours with this orchestra. Leading the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jansons has performed in some of the most important music centres in Europe, America, and Japan, and he was a guest at the Lucerne Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, and the BBC Proms. He is invited back each year to the Salzburg Festival, and he has his own concert series in Vienna’s Musikverein.
As guest conductor, Jansons has performed with orchestras such as the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the orchestras of Cleveland and Philadelphia, the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also been the principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2006, he directed the New Year’s concert in Vienna.
Besides the many well-known records and CDs he made with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Jansons has recorded with such orchestras as the Berliner and Wiener Philharmoniker, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Many of these recordings have won international awards, including an Edison Prize and a Grammy. A series of recordings with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on its own label RCO Live has received enthusiastic acclaim from public and press alike.
Jansons has been awarded various international honors for his achievements, including the Cross of Merit from King Harald of Norway and memberships in the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. In May 2006 he was awarded the Order of the Three Stars, Latvia’s highest state honor.