Conductor Mariss Jansons dies at 76; led top orchestras

By Associated Press |

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Maestro Mariss Jansons (Photo: Bayerischer Rundfunk)

Maestro Mariss Jansons (Photo: Bayerischer Rundfunk)

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Mariss Jansons, conductor of top classical ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, has died in Russia. He was 76.

Jansons’ death in St. Petersburg was confirmed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he was chief conductor. Jansons had canceled concerts this summer because of health reasons, the dpa news agency reported.

Born in German-occupied Riga in 1943 in what is now independent Latvia as the son of a conductor father and an opera singer mother, Jansons grew up in the Soviet Union and studied at the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Conservatory. He moved to Austria in 1969 and studied conducting with Hans Swarowsky at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and with Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg.

He was chief conductor in Pittsburgh from 1997 to 2004, regularly appeared at the Salzburg Festival, and in 2006 and 2012 conducted the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert broadcast around the world. He left the Pittsburgh orchestra to become principal conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, a post he held until 2015. Jansons is credited with raising the reputation of the Oslo Philharmonic through recordings and international tours during a 23-year tenure as music director.

Jansons, who according to a 2012 interview in the Guardian held both Russian and Latvian passports, collapsed on stage during a concert performance of Puccini’s La bohème in Oslo in 1996 after suffering a heart attack and was subsequently fitted with a defibrillator.