“Mariss Jansons is one of the pre-eminent conductors of our times and a true friend of the Salzburg Festival. His earnestness, his profound sensibility, his ethical uprightness and his artistic class give his music a truthfulness which is as rare as it is precious. Mariss Jansons’ life is one great declaration of his love for music, and he is one of the artist personalities which make the Festival an epicentre of the extraordinary,” says Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser.
The Salzburg Festival congratulates Mariss Jansons on his 75th birthday, which he celebrates on Sunday, 14 January. The Latvian conductor has long enjoyed a special relationship with Austria – thus, in the midst of the Cold War he received permission from the Soviet authorities to study with Hans Swarowsky at Vienna’s Music Academy as part of an exchange programme in 1969 and to assist Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg in 1970. The Karajan student made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1990. Ever since, he has given 38 performances with seven different orchestras at the Salzburg Festival: In 1990 he brought his Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, winning the hearts of audience and reviewers alike with performances of Tchaikovsky, Berlioz and Grieg. Two years later Mariss Jansons first conducted the orchestra of his hometown St. Petersburg at the Festival; in 1994 he first led the Vienna Philharmonic in Salzburg. Since his Festival debut, the conductor has brought one of his orchestras to Salzburg for concerts almost every summer. In 1999 the guest appearance of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra met with particular interest; in 2006 Mariss Jansons first brought his Concertgebouw Orchestra and in 2007 his Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
However, the Salzburg audience had to forego the pleasure of hearing Mariss Jansons conduct opera through all these years. Only Markus Hinterhäuser managed to win Mariss Jansons over to conduct an opera in 2017, the first year under his artistic directorship. Leading Dmitri Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, one of the conductor’s favourite operas, Jansons took audience and reviewers by storm. He returns to the opera programme in 2018, leading Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades in a production directed by Hans Neuenfels.
“Actually, the truth is that Mariss Jansons gave the Festival the best birthday gift imaginable by returning to conduct another opera in 2018. Of course, we are also counting on him for an artistic contribution to the 2020 anniversary programme. After all, Mariss Jansons is one of the artist personalities who have shaped the unique reputation of the Festival – and he continues to do so,” says Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler.