Mariss Jansons, son of conductor Arvids Jansons, was born in Riga in 1943. He studied violin, piano, and conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory, completing his education as a student of Hans Swarowsky in Vienna and of Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. In 1971 he became a laureate of the Karajan Competition in Berlin and began his close partnership with today’s St. Petersburg Philharmonic, first as an assistant to Yevgeny Mravinsky and then as a permanent conductor.
From 1979 to 2000 Jansons served as Music Director of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; under his tenure, the orchestra earned international acclaim and performed in the world’s leading concert halls. Between 1997 and 2004 he was Principal Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, in the 2003/2004 season he took over leadership of the Chor and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. It was in the 2004/2005 season that he also began his tenure as head of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, ending it in 2015. As a guest conductor, Mariss Jansons works with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic (conducting the latter’s New Year Concert for the third time in 2016), as well as with the leading orchestras in the USA and Europe.
His discography comprises many prize-winning recordings, including his Grammy-winning account of Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony.
Mariss Jansons is an honorary member of the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Berlin Philharmonic, who had already honoured him with the Hans-von-Bülow Medal, as well as the Vienna Philharmonic. The City of Vienna has awarded him the Golden Medal of Honour, the State of Austria has conferred on him the Cross of Honour for Science and Art, in 2010 he was awarded the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. In 2007 and 2008 he received the ECHO Klassik Award. In 2013, for his life’s work as a conductor, he received the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, and the same year he was awarded the “Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany” by German President Joachim Gauck in Berlin. In France in 2015, the Ministry of Culture named Mariss Jansons “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres”. In 2017 he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London, and in March 2018 he was honoured with the international Léonie Sonning Music Prize.