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Mariss Jansons (b1943)

Mariss Jansons’s earliest memories are of his father, the conductor Arvid Jansons, conducting opera and ballet: ‘As a very small boy, three years old, I was always observing… I went to my father’s rehearsals. When I came home, I put my book on the table and started to conduct. I changed my trousers because they were for rehearsal, not for concert. I played at being artistic director, drawing up programmes for subscription seasons.’ He learnt to play the violin in Riga, and in 1957 entered the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied conducting with Rabinovich, as well as the piano and violin. He made his public conducting debut prior to graduating with honours and then studied with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Academy of Music from 1969 to 1972. Having been assistant to Herbert von Karajan at Salzburg in 1969 and 1970, Jansons took first prize at the International von Karajan Foundation Conducting Competition in 1971 and in the same year was appointed associate conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, working with the orchestra’s distinguished chief conductor Evgeny Mravinsky. The influence of this period in his career was great, especially in terms of standards and expectations. ‘The atmosphere was so pressured,’ he has recalled. ‘Mravinsky demanded such high standards, everybody was afraid to fall below. There was Richter, Gilels, (David) Oistrakh—such quality.’



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