Imagine that you are in Estonia, walking by a window of a family house. All of a sudden, you realise that some Bartók music is played in the living room. Or Kodály. The internationally acknowledged conductor, Paavo Järvi was brought up in a way that the closeness of Hungarian music was absolutely natural for him. He is leading the Budapest Festival Orchestra on 12, 13, 14 January, Müpa Budapest. Read an interview with the Estonian conductor.
A critic wrote that if you ever get tired of the conducting game, you’ve got a great career as a comedian ahead of you. Can you imagine that?
I think life without laughing is not worth living!
Do you use your humour while conducting/making music?
Of course I do, music is full of all the humans’ expressions and humour is part of it. When appropriate, I will always use humour.
You are leading the NHK Symphony Orchestra now. Is there any difference between a European, an American or an Asian ensemble?
Of course there are some differences between them, not only because of the difference of cultures. These differences translate themselves in the music making. Each orchestra reflects the personality of the country they live in.
Wherever you are, you keep your focus (and your heart) on Estonian music. Is it possible to describe the characteristics of the Estonian musical heritage? What makes it different?
Estonian music varies greatly from one composer to another, a time and area to another. It is very diverse and different. It is very natural for me to be an Ambassador for the Estonian music and I believe it is my mission to introduce the music and the arts of a small country like Estonia to the world.
Do you see any connection between Hungarian and Estonian music? As far as I know you learned a lot about Hungarian music from your father.
Hungarian and Estonian music have one direct connection: both Hungarian and Estonian languages share the same Finno-Ugrian language group and this create strong similarities. Hungarian music have accompanied me since my early childhood. We used to listen to recordings of Bartók, Kodály and many others. Hungarian music as well as Hungarian conductors were part of my upbringing.
In Budapest you are conducting Sow the wind by Erkki-Sven Tüür. Why is this piece important for you?
The piece was commissioned by the Orchestre National de Paris when i was a Music Director there and co-commissioned by the Wiener Symphoniker. I did the world premiere in Paris and therefore I feel very close to this piece. Erkki-Sven Tüür is a close friend of mine and a musical ally.
What’s the connection between this and the Russian compositions you bring along?
There is no direct connection. I think Shostakovich and Prokofiev are two great Russian masters and I strongly feel that the three pieces are wroking very well together in the programme.
Why did you decide to play together with Truls Mørk?
We are regular music partners with Truls Mørk. I have made music with him for many years, for decades actually! He is also a good friend of mine and we recorded a lot together. When there is an opportunity where we can play together, I always welcome it.
You mentioned that in funding the Estonian Festival Orchestra you were inspired by Iván Fischer as well. From which aspect?
I have been admiring Iván Fischers’ work for a long time and especially his ideas and decision to create the Budapest Festival Orchestra. This is an orchestra that carries the idea of its founder and this is very appealing to me. Yes I was partly inspired by him in creating the Estonian Festival Orchestra.
It seems that you like being close to nature. Is this true?
For somebody who is spending most of his life in airports and hotels, to be close to nature can’t be a reality unfortunately. But I do take every chances to be in the nature!
What is the most important source of inspiration for you? Does it happen sometimes that you would like to be far away from music?
No it doesn’t happen to me, music is never far away! My inspiration is always the music itself, I don’t look for outside forces, it is always coming from the scores themselves and the composer’s ideas.