Latvia's Mariss Jansons was one of the most important conductors to have emerged from the Soviet Union in the last years of its existence. He led major orchestras in Europe and the U.S. and amassed a large catalog of recordings. Jansons was born January 14, 1943, in German-occupied Latvia; his mother, who was Jewish, had fled the capital to give birth. Both her father and her uncle were killed. After the war, Jansons studied violin with his father and then enrolled at the Leningrad Conservatory (now the St. Petersburg Conservatory), studying conducting and piano. He was able to travel to the West for further study in Austria with Hans Swarowsky and Herbert von Karajan. He won the International Herbert von Karajan Foundation Competition in Berlin. The impressed Karajan wanted to offer Jansons a position as his assistant at the Berlin ...
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