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Mariss Jansons

Wednesday 29 August 2007 21:15-22:00 (Radio 3)

Norman Lebrecht talks to the conductor of this evening's prom, Mariss Jansons. One of the world's most sort after musicians and widely regarded as the conductor's conductor, he limits himself to a central line of romantic repertoire which he performs with infinite shifts of colour and mood. Aged 64 he now heads the orchestra of Bavarian Radio and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Born in hiding, after many of his mother's family were murdered in the Riga ghetto, he grew up in Soviet Russia and perfected his craft slowly over 23 years at the Oslo Philharmonic. His father, Arvid died of a heart attack while conducting in Manchester in November 1984 - Mariss himself had a near death experience during a performance 11 years ago.

He's an intensely driven man who has now been forced to curb his hectic international conducting lifestyle, but how does that relationship with death shape his music making?

He talks revealing about the death of his father in Manchester, and how after the cremation he carried his father's ashes on tour around the UK with the Oslo Philharmonic before returning home to St Petersburg.

He recalls his first memories of the Soviet occupation of Riga. His parents didn't have a baby sitter so he spent all of his early days in the opera house in Riga while his father conducted and his mother sang. Yet he was more fascinated by the ballet than the opera, and even today he says he feels something very special in the theatre atmosphere.

This interview forms part of a series broadcast during the Proms season to include Franz Welser-Most.

This programme is available to download for 7 days as a podcast from The Lebrecht Interview homepage.


45 minutes

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