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NEEME JARVI

Neeme Järvi first studied music with his brother Vallo before entering the Tallinn School of Music, where he studied percussion and choral conducting. Having made his public conducting debut in Tallinn in 1954, he continued his studies between 1955 and 1960 at the Leningrad Conservatory, where his teachers in symphonic and operatic conducting included Nicolai Rabinovich and Yevgeny Mravinsky. Both made a great impression upon him, as he recalled: ‘Rabinovich was all beautiful hands and upbeats and everything that conductors need.’ Jarvi has also noted that these mentors were in turn highly influenced by the Jewish conductors who were seeking refuge from Nazi Germany during the 1930s: ‘Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer conducted in Leningrad every year, and these young Rabinovichs and Mravinskys looked (at them) every day, as I looked at Mravinsky and Rabinovich thirty years later.’

Following graduation from the Leningrad Conservatory in 1960, Järvi played as a percussionist in the Estonian Radio Symphony Orchestra, being subsequently appointed chief conductor of this orchestra in 1963, as well as chief conductor and artistic director of the State Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (renamed the Estonian National Opera Theatre after independence was restored to Estonia). In the same year he co-founded the Estonian Chamber Orchestra in Tallinn and became its artistic director. During the 1960s Järvi began to gain an international reputation through his regular appearances with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra and the major Moscow orchestras, as well as with guest appearances elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Having made his operatic conducting debut with Bizet’s Carmen at the Kirov Theatre in Leningrad, he later conducted the Soviet Union’s first-ever performances of Der Rosenkavalier, Porgy and Bess and Il Turco in Italia.

In 1971 Järvi took first prize at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Conducting Competition in Rome. This opened the door to invitations to conduct in Western Europe (Great Britain, Sweden, Holland, Germany) and further afield (Argentina, Canada and Japan), and in 1973 and 1977 he made his first appearances in the USA, on tour with the Leningrad Philharmonic and the Leningrad Symphony Orchestras. His debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York came in 1979, when he conducted Eugene Onegin to considerable critical acclaim. Järvi had relinquished his position at the head of the Estonian State Opera in 1976, when he was appointed the chief conductor of the newly-formed Estonian State Symphony Orchestra, but following a performance he gave in Estonia of Arvo Pärt’s Credo, which contained words from the Bible, members of the Estonian State Symphony Orchestra were sacked from their posts by the authorities. As a result, in 1980 Järvi decided to emigrate with his family to America.

Two major agencies, International Concert Management and Columbia Artists, offered to represent him and he decided to work with the latter. Soon he was conducting the major American orchestras, including the Cincinnati Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestras, developing in particular a close association with the orchestras of Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Detroit. In addition appointments with European orchestras quickly followed. Järvi worked alongside Simon Rattle as principal guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra between 1981 and 1984, and following an appearance at the Royal Opera House in Sweden conducting Richard Strauss’s Salome he became chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in 1982, holding this appointment until 2004 when he became the orchestra’s conductor emeritus. Similarly, he was chief conductor of the Scottish National Orchestra between 1984 and 1988, then becoming that orchestra’s conductor emeritus in 1990. Having become an American citizen in 1987, Järvi was appointed chief conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1990: as with the Gothenburg Orchestra, he developed a long relationship with this ensemble, stepping down only in 2005, when he became conductor emeritus of this orchestra too, as well as the chief conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and of The Hague Residentie Orchestra. Throughout the period of his Detroit appointment, Järvi also accepted numerous guest engagements, appearing in Europe and the USA regularly as both a symphonic and operatic conductor, as well as being the principal guest conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Järvi has a superlative conducting technique through which he strives for close communication with orchestral players: ‘…you have to talk with your hands with the musicians. You have to explain with every gesture, like you’re breathing. If you’re not breathing you’re not alive. This kind of a relationship – always showing what you want – works so beautifully, and American orchestras are the best to work with as a conductor, because they are so professional. Just show them and it’s done. If you are not showing, nothing comes. You are just beating, no music.’ In addition he is a conductor who is frequently highly spontaneous in performance, giving his interpretations notable freshness and immediacy. This aspect of conducting is often in the forefront of his teaching. At the annual conducting course in which he participates at Pärnu, a resort town on Estonia’s southern coast, Järvi has been known to both censure and encourage students with comments such as: ‘Boring music-making! Do something with it! If you are in the middle of a piece and want to do something, do it.’ Those who have played with Järvi praise highly his collaborative style of music-making. A member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, violinist Beatriz Budinszky, has commented in interview, ‘Neeme is proof that a conductor can be a gentleman... he has that charisma, that contagious enthusiasm.’

Järvi is also unusual in that he is constantly searching out and performing neglected works by both popular and lesser-known composers. This philosophy developed early in his career: when he was active in Estonia he presented many new works by fellow countrymen Eduard Tubin and Arvo Pärt, long before they had achieved the international distinction which they now enjoy. These three characteristics – a highly communicative conducting technique, consistent spontaneity and the constant search for new repertoire – have made Järvi an ideal recording conductor. During the course of his career he has recorded well over three hundred and fifty discs for the Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, BIS, Orfeo, EMI and BMG labels, as well as for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s own label. He has recorded complete symphonic cycles of Swedish composers Wilhelm Stenhammar and Hugo Alfvén; Danish composers Niels Gade and Carl Nielsen; Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (his complete orchestral music); Johannes Brahms and Franz Schmidt; Czech composers Bohuslav Martinů and Antonín Dvořák; Estonian composers Arvo Pärt and Eduard Tubin; Russian composers Glazunov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich; and many others. With the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, he has recorded thirty-six discs for the Chandos label, including an important American series with works by Samuel Barber, Amy Beach, Charles Ives, George Chadwick, Duke Ellington and William Grant Still. In addition, notably with the Gothenburg Orchestra, Järvi has revived several important works by Russian composers which have vanished undeservedly from the concert repertoire, such as Maximilian Steinberg’s Symphony No. 1 and Myaskovsky’s Symphony No. 6.

The considerable influence exerted by recordings is acknowledged by Järvi, who has commented, ‘I think that the orchestras that I lead should become known in the world. It’s not possible to travel around the world with them that much, and thus I can introduce them via the records. Gothenburg is a small Swedish town and the Gothenburg orchestra would have remained unknown had we not recorded for Deutsche Grammophon. The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s almost one hundred records have given it considerable recognition.’ Neeme and Liilia Järvi’s three children are all musicians: his two sons Paavo and Kristjan are both distinguished conductors, while his daughter Maarika is a flautist of note.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Patmore (A–Z of Conductors, Naxos 8.558087–90).


Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
Role: Conductor 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ALFVEN, H.: Symphony No. 1 / Uppsala Rhapsody / Drapa (Stockholm Philharmonic, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-395
Orchestral
ALFVEN, H.: Symphony No. 2 / Midsummer Vigil (Stockholm Philharmonic, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-385
Orchestral
ALFVEN, H.: Symphony No. 3 / Dalecarlian Rhapsody / The Prodigal Son Suite (Stockholm Philharmonic, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-455
Orchestral
ALFVEN: 3 Swedish Rhapsodies BIS
BIS-CD-725
Orchestral
ALFVEN: Mountain King Suite / Symphony No. 5 / Gustav II Adolf: Elegy (Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-585
Orchestral
ALFVEN: Symphonies and Rhapsodies (The) BIS
BIS-CD-1478-80
Orchestral
ALFVEN: Symphony No. 4, Op. 39 BIS
BIS-CD-505
Orchestral
BRITTEN: Orchestral Music BIS
BIS-CD-420
Orchestral
Concert - DVORAK, A. / SHCHEDRIN, R. / FRANCK, C. / SHOSTAKOVICH, D. (Argerich, Maisky, N. Jarvi) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10224
Classical Concert
Concert - DVORAK, A. / SHCHEDRIN, R. / FRANCK, C. / SHOSTAKOVICH, D. (Argerich, Maisky, N. Jarvi) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20224
Classical Concert
DAUGHERTY, M.: Fire and Blood / MotorCity Triptych / Raise the Roof (Kavafian, B. Jones, Detroit Symphony, N. Jarvi) Naxos
8.559372
Orchestral
DVORAK: Cello Concerto / Waldesruhe BIS
BIS-CD-245
Concertos
DVORAK: Legends, Op. 59 / JANACEK: Sinfonietta BIS
BIS-CD-436
Orchestral
FIVE NORDIC MASTERS: SVENDSEN / STENHAMMER / NIELSEN / SIBELIUS / TUBIN BIS
BIS-CD-1496-98
Orchestral, Concertos
Flute and Orchestra Works - NIELSEN, C. / GRIFFES, C.T. / REINECKE, C. / CHAMINADE, C. / POULENC, F. (Bezaly, N. Järvi) BIS
BIS-1679
Orchestral, Concertos
GADE, N.W.: Symphonies (Stockholm Sinfonietta, Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-1835-36
Orchestral
GADE: Complete Symphonies, Vol. 1 BIS
BIS-CD-338
Orchestral
GADE: Complete Symphonies, Vol. 2 BIS
BIS-CD-339
Orchestral
GADE: Complete Symphonies, Vol. 3 BIS
BIS-CD-355
Orchestral
GADE: Complete Symphonies, Vol. 4 BIS
BIS-CD-356
Orchestral
KORNGOLD, E.W.: Violin Concerto / DVARIONAS, B.: Violin Concerto (Gluzman, Hague Residentie Orchestra, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-1822
Orchestral, Concertos
MAHLER: Symphony No. 8 BIS
BIS-CD-700
Orchestral
MARTINSSON / PART / TAMBERG: Trumpet Concertos BIS
BIS-CD-1208
Concertos
MARTINU, B.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 (Bamberg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-362
Orchestral
MARTINU, B.: Symphonies Nos. 1-6 (Bamberg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-1371-72
Orchestral
MARTINU, B.: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 (Bamberg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-363
Orchestral
MARTINU, B.: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 (Bamberg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-402
Orchestral
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition / St. John's Night on Bald Mountain BIS
BIS-CD-325
Vocal
NIELSEN, C.: Symphonies 1-6 / Violin Concerto / Flute Concerto / Clarinet Concerto (Gallois, Dong-Suk Kang, Schill, Myung-Whun Chung, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-614-16
Orchestral
NIELSEN, C.: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 (Gothenburg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-600
Orchestral
PART, A.: Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten / ALLEGRI, G.: Miserere / WEBERN, A.: Langsamer Satz (Secret Classics) Delos
DE1031
Orchestral
PART: Arvo Part - A Portrait (KIMBERLEY) Naxos Educational
8.558182-83
Music Biographies
PART: Cello Concerto / Perpetuum Mobile / Symphonies No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 BIS
BIS-CD-434
Orchestral, Concertos, Orchestral
PART: Spiegel im Spiegel / Fratres / Fur Alina BIS
BIS-CD-1434
Orchestral, Concertos
SCHNITTKE, A.: Symphonies Nos. 0-9 BIS
BIS-CD-1767-68
Orchestral
SCHNITTKE: Concerto Grosso No. 4 ("Symphony No. 5") / Pianissimo BIS
BIS-CD-427
Orchestral
SCHUBERT: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 / Overture in the Italian Style BIS
BIS-CD-453
Orchestral
SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 5 / Symphony No. 6 / Overture in C Major BIS
BIS-CD-387
Orchestral
SIBELIUS (The Essential) BIS
BIS-CD-1697-1700
Orchestral, Concertos
SIBELIUS, J.: Sibelius Edition, Vol. 1 - Tone Poems BIS
BIS-CD-1900-02
Orchestral
SIBELIUS, J.: Sibelius Edition, Vol. 3 - Voice and Orchestra BIS
BIS-CD-1906-08
Opera
SIBELIUS: 6 Humoresques / 2 Serenades BIS
BIS-CD-472
Orchestral, Concertos
SIBELIUS: Choral Works BIS
BIS-CD-314
Choral - Secular, Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Finlandia / Karelia Suite / The Swan of Tuonela BIS
BIS-CD-610
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Kullervo, Op. 7 BIS
BIS-CD-313
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Lemminkainen Suite, Op. 22 BIS
BIS-CD-294
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Maiden in the Tower (The) / Karelia Suite BIS
BIS-CD-250
Orchestral, Opera
SIBELIUS: Oceanides (The), Op. 73 / Symphony No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 63 BIS
BIS-CD-263
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Pohjola's Daughter / Rakastava / Tapiola / Impromptu BIS
BIS-CD-312
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Scaramouche, Op. 71 / Wedding March BIS
BIS-CD-502
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Scenes historiques, Op. 25 and Op. 66 / En Saga, Op. 9 BIS
BIS-CD-295
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Spring Song / The Bard / Three Pieces, Op. 96 / Presto for Strings / Three Suites BIS
BIS-CD-384
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Swanwhite Suite / Belshazzar's Feast Suite / The Dryad / Dance Intermezzo / Pan and Echo BIS
BIS-CD-359
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Symphonies Nos. 1-7 BIS
BIS-CD-622-24
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43 / Romance in C Major, Op. 42 BIS
BIS-CD-252
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 3 / King Cristian II Suite BIS
BIS-CD-228
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5 / Karelia Overture / Andante festivo BIS
BIS-CD-222
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 6 / Pelleas and Melisande Suite BIS
BIS-CD-237
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 7 / Kuolema: Incidental music / Night-ride and Sunrise BIS
BIS-CD-311
Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Tempest (The), Op. 109 / Cassazione, Op. 6 BIS
BIS-CD-448
Orchestral, Wind Ensemble/Band Music, Orchestral, Chamber Music, Orchestral
SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto in D Minor / Overture in A Minor/ Menuetto / In Memoriam BIS
BIS-CD-372
Orchestral, Concertos
STENHAMMAR, W.: Serenade, Op. 31 (Gothenburg Symphony, Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-310
Orchestral
STENHAMMAR: Choral Works BIS
BIS-CD-438
Choral - Sacred, Choral - Secular
STENHAMMAR: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Chitra Suite BIS
BIS-CD-476
Orchestral, Concertos
STENHAMMAR: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 / Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / Orchestral Music BIS
BIS-CD-714-16
Orchestral, Concertos
STENHAMMAR: Symphony No. 2, Op. 34 / Excelsior! Op. 13 BIS
BIS-CD-251
Orchestral
STRAUSS, R.: Oboe Concerto / Der Burger als Edelmann Orchestersuite (Nilsson, Stockholm Sinfonietta, Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-470
Concertos, Orchestral
SVENDSEN: Symphony No. 1 / Symphony No. 2 / 2 Swedish Folk Tunes BIS
BIS-CD-347
Orchestral
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphonies Nos. 1-6 / Orchestral Works (Gothenburg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-1897-98
Orchestral
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 1, "Winter Daydreams" / The Snow Maiden (excerpts) / Romeo and Juliet (Gothenburg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-SACD-1398
Orchestral
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 2, "Little Russian" / The Storm / Festival Overture / Overture in F Major (Gothenburg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-SACD-1418
Orchestral
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 3, "Polish" / Eugene Onegin (excerpts) / The Voyevoda (excerpts) (Gothenburg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-SACD-1468
Orchestral
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 5 / The Voyevoda, Op. 78 / Capriccio Italien (Gothenburg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-SACD-1408
Orchestral
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique" / Francesca da Rimini (Gothenburg Symphony, N. Jarvi) BIS
BIS-SACD-1348
Orchestral
TOBIAS: Des Jona Sendung (Jonah's Mission) BIS
BIS-CD-731-32
Choral - Sacred
TUBIN, E.: Double Bass Concerto / Valse triste / Violin Ballade / Violin Concerto / Estonian Dance Suite (Jarvi) BIS
BIS-CD-337
Orchestral, Concertos, Orchestral, Concertos
TUBIN: Complete Symphonies BIS
BIS-CD-1402-04
Orchestral
TUBIN: Prelude solennel / Violin Concerto No. 1 / Violin Concerto BIS
BIS-CD-286
Orchestral, Concertos
TUBIN: Reekviem langenud soduritele (Requiem for Fallen Soldiers) / Symphony No. 10 BIS
BIS-CD-297
Choral - Sacred, Orchestral
TUBIN: Sinfonietta on Estonian Motifs / Symphony No. 7 BIS
BIS-CD-401
Concertos, Orchestral
TUBIN: Symphony No. 1 / Balalaika Concerto / Music for Strings BIS
BIS-CD-351
Concertos, Orchestral
TUBIN: Symphony No. 2 / Symphony No. 6 BIS
BIS-CD-304
Orchestral
TUBIN: Symphony No. 5 in B Minor / Suite from Kratt (The Goblin) BIS
BIS-CD-306
Orchestral
TUBIN: Violin Sonata / Alto Saxophone Sonata / Ave Maria BIS
BIS-CD-269
Choral - Secular, Choral - Sacred
WALDBUHNE IN BERLIN 2006 - Scheherazade (NTSC) EuroArts
2055318
Classical Concert





 
 
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