The one thing all young conductors should do, according to this top maestro

20 July 2016, 16:19

"One lifetime is simply not enough," Paavo Järvi says. And this is what you should do about it.

The Estonian maestro and star member of the Järvi musical dynasty has shared the one thing he wished he'd done at the very beginning of his conducting career. 

Järvi is one of the world's most in-demand conductors, holding the top jobs with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, NHK Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris. Järvi has also founded a new music festival at the site of his childhood summers, in the Baltic seaside town of Pärnu.  

The festival is now in its fifth year, and features 12 concerts from 5 hand-picked orchestras, showcasing some of Europe's finest players. The festival is also dedicated to fostering a new generation of talent on the podium, as part of the Järvi Academy. 

Classic FM was in Pärnu last week to take in the music of the festival. With the work of the Järvi Academy in mind, we asked Paavo the one thing he wished that he was told at the beginning of his career.

"I wish somebody had advised me to make a list," Järvi told us. Three lists, in fact: "A list of the pieces you feel you absolutely have to conduct, and a second list of the pieces that you could conduct once you’ve done the first list. And then a list of things that would be nice to do, but could live without."

"I think that prioritising repertoire is one of the most important things that one could do in the beginning. We are young and we think we have time. And when you get older you realise that one lifetime is simply not enough to learn and get to know even just the great works."

He says young conductors need to remember that they can't do everything. It's not only important to think about that repertoire suits you and is very important to you, but it's also about learning repertoire that one needs to be able to step up to the podium quickly if necessary, should there be a cancellation or an unexpected opportunity. 

Järvi says that over the years he's spent a lot of time learning repertoire that he has little use for now, for example the Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto: "it’s nice but it’s not something that's been much in demand lately. But every piece is very unique and this process is very personal to each musician."