Biography

Kristjan Järvi has forged a career that couples his international reputation as an insightful, articulate conductor with his unique sensibility and genuine love for music. Järvi is renowned worldwide for inventive programming, brave collaborations and cross-cultural/cross-genre repertoire. An entrepreneur by nature and a passionate educator and philanthropist, Järvi leads both the oldest Radio Orchestra in Europe and the newest Youth Orchestra.  

Kristjan Järvi holds four principle engagements, including Music Director of the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra (beginning 2012-13 season); Chief Conductor Gstaad Festival Orchestra (GFO); Founder and Music Director Absolute Ensemble; and Founding Conductor Baltic Youth Philharmonic (BYP).  He is also the Artistic Advisor to Basel Chamber Orchestra.  Järvi has previously held Music Director posts in Vienna and Sweden. 

As a highlight of the 2012-13 Season, Kristjan Järvi is “Artist in Residence” at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where he conducts all four of the above-mentioned orchestras throughout the festival.  Järvi maintains a similar relationship with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and in 2012-13 is resident with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and both the BYP and MDR at the newly built Danish Radio Concert Hall.

Kristjan has ongoing guest conducting engagements with the following orchestras: London Symphony Orchestra (with whom he performs regularaly and exclusively in London and has toured the USA, Europe and Asia), Staatskapelle Dresden, Bayerische Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, NDR Hamburg, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington D.C), the Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony and NHK Symphony Japan. 

As a recording artist Järvi has more than 30 albums to his credit. He has been honored with a Swedish Grammy for ‘Best Opera Performance’, German Record Critics Prize for ‘Best Album’, a Grammy nomination and a BBC Record Award nomination. Kristjan Järvi records exclusively for SONY, releasing two albums this season on the label- “Carmina Burana” and “Cloud Atlas Symphony”, both with the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.  The Cloud Atlas Symphony marks Kristjan’s continued work in film music, having recorded the soundtrack the Hollywood film Cloud Atlas with MDR. 

 “Cloud Atlas Symphony” by Gene Pritsker was commissioned by the MDR and adds to a body of more than one hundred new works for which Kristjan has actively sought the commission.  Kristjan Järvi has worked with many of the most esteemed composers of our time, and has commissioned and collaborated with diverse artists including Arvo Pärt, Tan Dun, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, H.K Gruber, Renee Fleming, Joe Zawinul, Goran Bregovic, Paquito d’Rivera, Eitetsu Hayashi, Marcel Khalife and Benny Anderson. 

Founded in 2008, Baltic Youth Philharmonic has quickly been embraced by the international community as both an important education body and a symbol of peace and unity in a previously volatile region.  As founding conductor, Kristjan Järvi has led the Ensemble on tours throughout Europe and secured significant support through a board of trustees that includes former German chancellor Schroeder, Valery Gergiev, Kurt Masur, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marek Janowski and Mariss Jansons.  The BYP has become a vibrant hub for education and performance, musically uniting students across the region.

Kristjan Järvi is committed to music education and in addition to his work with BYP has founded the Absolute Academy at the Bremen University for Music and Arts and the Muusikaselts Music education project in remote Estonian orphanages (now a national initiative).  He has worked with dozens of youth organizations and in 2011 was a Judge at the first Beijing International Composers Competition in China. 

Kristjan Järvi was born in Tallinn, Estonia.  He emigrated to the United States as a child and grew up in New York City.  He is an accomplished pianist and graduated from Manhattan School of Music as a performance major followed by undertaking conducting studies at the University of Michigan.  He began his career as Assistant Conductor to Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Kristjan is married with four children and lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

Last Updated:  October 2012