Armin Jordan has achieved a reputation for a high order of competence in a broad and varied repertory.
As director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande from 1985 to 1997, he found himself in the international spotlight through tours and the numerous recordings he made with the orchestra. He is also likely the only maestro to have acted (Amfortas) in a film (Parsifal) whose soundtrack he was conducting. Indeed, his career entered a new phase through his work as a Wagner conductor at Seattle and in Paris, dispelling notions that his abilities were best confined to the French repertory. After studies in Lausanne and Geneva, Jordan began his career in 1957 in a traditional manner as an assistant conductor at the town theater in Biel. By 1963, he had advanced to principal conductor at the Zürich Opera and remained there until 1968. From 1968 to 1971, he served as principal conductor at the Théâtre de Saint Gall and from 1971 to 1989, he was principal conductor at Basle. From 1973 to 1985, Jordan was also music director of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and toured America with that ensemble in 1983. From 1985 to 1997, he served as chief conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva and devoted himself extensively to that orchestra; under his leadership, the Geneva orchestra toured the United States and Japan on five different occasions. From 1986 to 1993, he also held the position of principal guest conductor of the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris. By the mid-'90s, European opera performances had taken Jordan to Lyon, Nancy, Bordeaux, the Monnaie in Brussels, Munich, Hamburg, and Vienna, as well as to the Grand Théâtre in Geneva. His repertory grew to embrace works by Mozart, Berg, Puccini, Shostakovich, Strauss, and Wagner, as well as Massenet and Debussy. After making his American operatic debut at Seattle in 1985, Jordan conducted at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York and at the Metropolitan Opera. In August 2000, Jordan collapsed from pneumonia while conducting Wagner's Ring and subsequently withdrew from the company's 2001 Ring. Guest appearances with other symphony orchestras also figured into Jordan's career during and after his years in Geneva. Paris, Holland, Zürich, and Monte Carlo were among the venues visited.