Born in Estonia, surrounded by world-famous Estonian musicians like conductor Neeme Järvi, composer Arvo Pärt, and conductor Eri Klas, grown up in the US, Kristjan Järvi, conductor, composer, and pianist, tells about Estonian culture and creativity to Dennis Wholey from This is America and The World.
Music has always been an important part of the Estonian national identity
According to Kristjan Järvi, closeness to nature and authenticity, avoiding over-thinking – this is what keeps Estonian culture creative and meaningful. “We have actually a fantastic thing called nature, which has created our songs, dances, and our language – and that is it,” said Kristjan Järvi. “We celebrate our simplicity, our awesome nature, our seas and islands, our forest, our language,” added Järvi.
One of the outputs of the Estonian culture is The Estonian Song and Dance Festival “Laulupidu”, where people sing and dance together. This summer 100 000 Estonians gathered to become a part of this festival. The local Song Festival tradition is 150 years old and The Estonian Song Celebration is the biggest open-air choir concert in the world.
Such a wide-ranging love of music should be accompanied by internationally renowned musicians. The composer Arvo Pärt is the most played modern composer in the world. Speaking of Estonian conductors, let’s just mention a conducting dynasty: Neeme Järvi, his sons Paavo Järvi and Kristjan Järvi.
From creator to entrepreneur
Kristjan Järvi has “earned a reputation as one of the canniest, and most innovative, programmers on the classical scene” (Reuter). As a conductor, he directs the great classics from Wagner to Radiohead and is at home on the big international stages. Järvi defies musical orthodoxy and pursues his pioneering ideas and concepts with three bands and orchestras: Together with Gene Pritsker he co-founded the New York-based classical-hip-hop-jazz group “Absolute Ensemble”. He is founder-conductor and artistic director of the “Baltic Sea Philharmonic” and he is leader of the “Sunbeam Production” in-house band “Nordic Pulse”.
„You are powerful if you are confident, and you are confident because you know that you have something to say and can create something and invent something, and you’ve got like-minded thinkers all around the world. You’ve got everything you want. And that, I hope is the Estonian mentality,” Järvi describes the success factors of the creative business.
The current interview with Kristjan Järvi is the last episode of the program This is America and The World devoted to Estonia. If you want to know more about Estonia, you’ll find the previous episodes of the series here:
- Interview with Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid
- Estonian digital country, innovation and business environment
- Stress-free daily life in Estonia
Estonia isn’t only a growth platform for classical music, but also home to the world’s leading digital nation, smart startups and new ideas that attract entrepreneurs around the world to invest here.