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Switzerland loses distinguished conductor

Armin Jordan conducting the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva in 1996 Keystone

The acclaimed Swiss conductor, Armin Jordan, has died after collapsing last week during a concert performance in Basel.

The 74-year-old Swiss maestro, who was the artistic director of several orchestras, was best known for his 12 years as musical director of the Geneva-based Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

A statement by the Ensemble orchestral de Paris said Jordan died on Tuesday night in Basel.

He collapsed last Friday, whilst conducting the Symphony Orchestra Basel during the opening night of a production of Sergei Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges and had to be rushed to hospital.

The conductor had been active for decades as a symphony and opera conductor in Europe and North America. He made his name as principal conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

During his 12-year tenure, the Geneva-based orchestra toured the world and held numerous successful concerts in Japan, South Korea, the United States, Belgium and Britain.

The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande said in a statement that it felt “immense sadness” at his death and had lost “a great conductor, and a great friend.”


The Swiss conductor leaves behind many world-class recordings of his concerts, in particular those with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

In 2000 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour, for his career’s work.

Since 2001, when he contracted pneumonia while in New York to conduct Wagner’s Ring cycle at the Metropolitan Opera, Jordan had reduced his musical commitments and travelling.

The celebrated conductor is the father of rising star, Philippe Jordan, the principal guest conductor of the Berlin Staatsoper and currently guest conductor at the Vienna State Opera.

The director of the Federal Culture Office, Jean-Frédéric Jauslin, said Jordan had been an extremely influential figure for the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Jordan is considered Switzerland’s most famous maestro after the late Ernest Ansermet.

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Armin Jordan was born in Lucerne in 1932. He studied music in Lausanne and Geneva.

He started his career in 1961 as assistant head of the Biel and Solothurn Theatre, then became conductor of Zurich Opera in 1963 and musical director of St Gallen Theatre from 1968 to 1971.

From 1971 to 1989 he worked as director of Basel Theatre, while acting as artistic director and conductor of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne from 1973 to 1985.

From 1985 to 1997 Jordan worked as musical director of the Geneva-based Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

From 1986 to 1992, he was guest conductor at the Ensemble orchestral de Paris.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR