Paavo Järvi © Alberto Venzago
Born in 1962 as the son of conductor Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi studied percussion and conducting at the conservatory in his native city of Tallinn. In 1980, the family moved from the Estonian Soviet Republic to the United States, where he continued his training first at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and then with Leonard Bernstein at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. Järvi served as principal guest conductor with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before leading the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as music director for ten years, from 2001 to 2011. From 2006 to 2013, he served as principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, and from 2010 to 2016 he was music director of the Orchestre de Paris. He has led the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen since 2004, the Japanese NHK Orchestra since 2015, and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich since 2019. Additionally, since 2011 he has served as artistic director of the Estonian Pärnu Festival, which he co-founded, and director of the Estonian Festival Orchestra. As a guest conductor, Järvi has worked with the major London orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouworkest, the Los Angeles and Israel Philharmonics, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. In 2017, he made his debut at La Scala in Milan with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Järvi has a broad repertoire and is also deeply committed to the works of Estonian composers, especially Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Lepo Sumera, and Eduard Tubin. His discography includes compositions by Sibelius, Shostakovich, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Berlioz, and Stravinsky, as well as the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and Franz Schmidt. With the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich he recorded a Messiaen CD und is currently working on a Tchaikovsky cycle. Järvi’s recording of the Sibelius cantatas earned a Grammy Award. He received the Paul Hindemith Prize in 2012, and, in 2019, the Rheingau Music Prize.
Lucerne Festival debut on 18 August 2001, leading the European Union Youth Orchestra in a program of works by Stravinsky, Grieg, and Prokofiev.