Conductor Mariss Jansons dies

Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons seen here on Dec. 29 2015 has died in Russia. He was 76

Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons seen here on Dec. 29 2015 has died in Russia. He was 76

Mariss Jansons, one of today's most respected and in-demand conductors, has died aged 76.

Born in the Latvian capital of Riga in 1943, Jansons made his conducting debut in the early 70s.

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 Boheme" in Oslo in 1996 after suffering a heart attack and was subsequently fitted with a defibrillator. As a child he studied violin with his father. Jansons was soon invited by Herbert von Karajan, then at the height of his influence, to be his assistant after winning second prize at his conducting competition in Berlin in 1971. He was instead appointed Associate Conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic in 1973, becoming its Associate Principal Conductor in 1985. Describing it as "a love affair from the first season", he is widely credited with transforming the orchestra into a truly great ensemble.

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A protege of Hans Swarowsky and Herbert von Karajan, throughout his 5 decade worldwide conducting career Maestro Jansons served as Music Director of the Oslo Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra - and as Principal Guest Conductor with the London Philharmonic.

"Sincere gratitude for his great art will always remain with us", Saint Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov said in a statement, calling him "an outstanding conductor".

Mariss Jansons conducts the traditional New Year Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

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