Sunday, September 07, 2003

Mariss Jansons Keeps It Real For The '724'

Pittsburgh Symphony Conductor Mariss Jansons certainly has reached the pinnacle of symphonic success. While he has earned great respect in the classical music field, he has also had to avoid the trappings which go with such a prestigious job.

"It's like everyone wants a piece of me, because I got mine," confessed Jansons. "People want me to neglect my shit, but if I don't look after it, who else will? Sure I got more cars, women, and houses than I did growing up in prep school, but that don't mean I take it for granted."

Jansons, whose recent rendering of Dvorak's Symphony No. 5 is drawing rave reviews from critics and the symphonic community alike, is keeping it in stride. "Some of the younger heads can't handle the success I've had. At first it was hard, but then you learn to cope. You need to focus on what's important, the music. That's all I ever had growing up in prep school. Them days was hard, but they made me at the same time. In between our family summer jaunts to Paris, it just felt like all I had was my viola."

While Jansons has found his niche in Pittsburgh, rumors have surfaced about his true love for the Steel City, especially after guest conducting roles with the Boston Pops and London Philharmonic.

"People saying I don't love the 724, they don't know shit," declared Jansons. "These are my people. This city loved me when I was nothing more than fourth chair, it gave me an opportunity. I ain't going to forget where I came from. Certainly, the Boston Pops and London Philharmonic are big time opportunities, but I'm not going to let that get to my head. The music really comes from the love of the suburbs I got in Pittsburgh. Sewickley Heights knows I do this for them."

It is the genuine love Jansons has for the upper-middle class which really drives him night in and night out to deliver. Jansons has even gone so far as to develop a line of tuxedo wear, "Pops Appeal," and devotes countless hours to teaching music at select private schools for large sums of money. Though some question his credibility to main true to his suburban roots, no one can question his achievement in the orchestra pit.

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