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Neeme Järvi is an Estonian-American conductor, and one of today’s most respected maestros. From his family to his schedule and the pronunciation of his name, here’s everything you need to know.
Find out more about conductor Neeme Järvi with our fact gallery…
Järvi was born in Tallinn, Estonia, and later studied music there. He then continued his studies at the Leningrad Conservatory under Yevgeny Mravinsky and Nikolai Rabinovich. In 1980, he immigrated to the United States with his family, and became an American citizen in 1985.
Neeme Järvi’s name is pronounced NAY-MER YEAH-VEE.
Neeme is one fifth of a spectacularly musical family. He and his wife Liilia have three children: conductor Paavo, conductor and pianist Kristjan and flautist Maarika Järvi.
Paavo told Classic FM last year: “At home, music was always there, playing in the background. My father not only played music, but he commented on it.”
Järvi has held positions with ensembles all over the world. He became the principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in 1982, and held the position for 22 years – the longest-serving principal conductor in the orchestra’s history. During his tenure, the orchestra boomed in reputation and size, growing from 80 to 110 players.
During the same period, Järvi was the principal conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), and has more recently been pronounced their Conductor Laureate. He has also held the title of Music Director of both the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and New Jersey Symphony orchestra, and Chief Conductor of the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague.
Neeme Järvi will be conducting the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig at the Gewandhaus concert hall in Leipzig with Matthias Goerne, on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 November 2018.
In 2001, Järvi had a serious collapse and took a four-month break from conducting, before returning with a spectacular comeback with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchesta at the Gothenburg Concert Hall.
Early last year (2017), he had to cancel two concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie due to illness. Now 81 years old, Järvi is taking things a little more slowly.
Järvi has been honoured with many prestigious awards and titles. These include an honorary doctorate from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and the Order of the National Coat of Arms from the former President of the Republic of Estonia, Lennart Meri. He has also been named one of the ‘Estonians of the Century’.
In 1971, he won first prize in the International Conductors Competition at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Plus, the Gstaad Menuhin Festival Academy has named a prize after Järvi, offering students at the Conducting Academy the chance of being guest conductor for professional orchestras.