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Jansons takes Munich post, but could stay in Pittsburgh

Saturday, January 13, 2001

By Caroline Abels and Andrew Druckenbrod, Post-Gazette Staff Writers

Mariss Jansons, music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, has agreed to lead a second orchestra -- the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, one of the top ensembles in the world and currently led by his Pittsburgh predecessor, Lorin Maazel.

Jansons' verbal agreement to become music director of the Munich orchestra in 2003, announced yesterday, does not rule out the possibility he will leave Pittsburgh to head the New York Philharmonic, where he has been a top candidate. He conceivably could head both the Bavarian and another new orchestra.

But PSO managing director Gideon Toeplitz said the agreement with the Bavarian has solidified his belief that Jansons won't leave Pittsburgh for New York.

"I was not nervous before," Toeplitz said, "but I needed a clear message. I thought, 'One never knows.' Now I know."

Toeplitz said he and Jansons "are talking about long-term plans" and that he has "no indication or clues or reason to believe" New York will successfully woo the Latvian conductor.

Kurt Meister, general manager of the Bavarian Radio Symphony, said he is comfortable with Jansons heading both the PSO and the Bavarian.

"I don't have a problem if he stays in Pittsburgh," Meister said, "because the music director here always has the first choice of the [concert] dates," allowing Jansons to schedule the Bavarian around the PSO's concert dates.

"You cannot believe it, we are in heaven," Meister said about the Jansons appointment. "The entire orchestra is so happy. We are like on a cloud."

The Bavarian is considered among the best ensembles in the world artistically, and Munich is a top musical and cultural center. Steadfastly supportive of the arts, the city boasts another orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, and a top opera house, the Bavarian State Opera.

Lorin Maazel, whom Jansons replaced at the PSO in 1997, is vacating the Bavarian conductor's spot at the end of 2002. Maazel also is a candidate for the New York Philharmonic.

Jansons' new job in Munich takes the place of his longtime position at the Oslo Philharmonic in Norway. He was music director of the Oslo for 21 years before resigning the position last year.

"We've known for a while that his days in Oslo were over and that this left time on his schedule to accept another European orchestra," Toeplitz said.

Jansons, 56, was at his home in St. Petersburg, Russia, yesterday and unavailable for comment.

Terms of his contract with the Bavarian were not worked out as of yesterday, but Meister said Jansons will conduct there 12 to 15 times a year.

Although Jansons has said he is not motivated by money, the Bavarian offers one of the highest salaries in the world for a music director. When he took the job in 1993, Maazel was said to make between $3 million and $4 million dollars. Jansons earns about $1 million with the PSO.

Jansons hasn't been a guest conductor at the Bavarian since 1991 but appeared in a "test concert" in December that Toeplitz attended.

"I told him I thought their chemistry was good and that they were a good combination," he recalled.

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