"Brothers in different places of the world"
By Lea Veelma
(Translated by Mary Ellyn Hutton)
"Home and Hearth," February, 2006.
World famous Estonian born conductor Neeme Järvi's sons Paavo and Kristjan do not have to walk with the wind of their father's fame at their backs, but tread their own independent paths of recognition in the music world.
Paavo has been an authority to his younger brother and still is. The older brother discovers, however, that the younger has "everything in correct doses."
Having turned 43 on the 30th of December, Paavo Järvi has been working in the world for many years. At the moment, he is not only music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, but also the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Paavo is connected also with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. His role as artistic adviser of the ERSO [Estonian National Symphony Orchestra] connects him with Estonia.
Paavo Järvi says that he has three homes altogether. The apartment in London is his principal "island," then a home in America in Cincinnati and an apartment in Florida, where there is a necessary breathing space.
Violinist wife Tanja and daughter Lea turning two [on February 3] wait at home for Paavo. In December, Paavo was on the conductor's podium again in Tallinn. The Estonia Concert Hall was brimful of people.
Kristjan Järvi's home is Vienna. There he works as conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Symphony Orchestra. When Kristjan is not in Vienna, he is with his parents in New York or in countless hotels. Kristjan's great love belongs to The Absolute Ensemble, whose success in Europe and America grows constantly. Created in 1993, the band, as Kristjan himself calls it, is a new music ensemble and presents mixed jazz, rock and likewise electronic music. The ensemble tries to use balanced new music experiences to break barriers so that the listener may gain different emotional experiences. The ensemble already has six records. Tours to Germany and Sweden have been successful. With a passionate disposition, conductor Kristjan Järvi satisfies thereby his own many-sided musical interest. Also, a recent performance of Mozart's opera "Zaide" in New York went well. Now he is on tour with Absolute in America. Ahead are [dates in] Florida, California and Sacramento, then back to Vienna, where the alpha and omega of his current life waits for Kristjan -- wife Heyle, whom he recently married, and who made Kristjan, in his own words, in everthing the happiest man in the world. Kristjan's son by his first marriage to violinist Leila Josefowicz, five year old Lukas, is already a well-travelled young man who feels as comfortable in Europe as in America.
When the Järvi family packed suitcases and left Estonia, Paavo Järvi was 17 [and] Kristjan was only seven years old. Home in Kadriorg, where it was so wonderful and comfortable to travel by trolley car when they came from school, was left behind. The boys knew that they would not come back to Estonia at once. A safe and decent home in Estonia, where mother made breakfast in the morning and sent the children to school, faded into the past. After farewell from Estonia, Paavo Järvi was placed in the pre-college division of the Juilliard School of Music to study percussion instruments and later to study conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music. George Otsa, [with] whom he had studied at the music school in Estonia, was "left behind." Kristjan went to the Manhattan School of Music to study piano.
I meet Paavo Järvi, dressed all in black, in the lobby of the Hotel Baron in Tallinn. [There are] two mobile [phones] of which one, the international one, tends to ring, the other stays quiet. I remember interviews with Paavo Järvi in the summer beneath the trees in the park at the Ammende Villa in Pärnu. Then he was in a white linen jacket. Paavo's face lights up the moment you meet him. The man is aware of what to wear. He justifies his dignified black with the fact that he travels so much and it is ideal for travel. Black also emphasizes the seriousness with which a man makes music. Regarding Järvi's' music, Vardo Rumessen [a famous Estonian pianist] says, for example, that the recordings of Beethoven's symphonies which Paavo Järvi has done [with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie] will attract great attention in the world. They are a new interpretive word because Paavo Jarvi reads [lit. solves] Beethoven's creation in the genuine light Viennese musical tradition.
Paavo Järvi on his brother Kristjan:
"We have a very strong family, but we do not meet often now. Lately, I speak with Kristjan basically by telephone on the road, chiefly when he is somewhere in the airport. Then [there] is time."
Paavo believes that adult life indeed begins at 17, when understanding of one's self begins to be formed. Therefore, he had different kinds of assumptions about beginning a new life in the world, because for Kristjan, first grade was unfinished when the Järvis left Estonia. Paavo remembers not only his, but Kristjan's life in Estonia during this interesting time. He does not remember some of the political problems, still less does Kristjan, who obviously remembers bits from here and there, because the difference in age was great, ten years. This permits Kristjan to consider them slightly Bohemian when he tries to remember times back, says Paavo, but he has a very good organizing and mobilizing ability of his own, which manifests itself when it is necessary to make something clear, to learn very rapidly, or to put things in place. However, when there are things which neither need to be done nor to be done by Kristjan, Paavo says that they both are the same. "Father always says that the day after tomorrow is another day." This, says the older brother, indicates the male family disposition.
Paavo recalls that the family was together only a year when they left Estonia, first to Vienna, then to America. A family near New York received the Järvi family, and they lived there a year before their feet got on firm ground. Then Paavo left home and began university study. "The reason Kristjan and I became bound to music is that father's love of music is so infectious that you cannot understand how you are conquered by it. When you must make a decision, it is already done, yet with no pressure, only a kind of self understanding." When Kristjan went to school, there was a question when he would speak clear English. Immediately words emerged for him. He got along inside everyday America very quickly, Paavo recalls.
Without laughter life is not correct
"Being with Kristjan was best when he was about nine years old. Humor brought us together. We understood the joke equally. Our grandmother was a humorous woman, all our family is like this: [people] who laugh at the absurdity of life and are able to laugh about it. Life without laughter is not a correct life. Kristjan laughs a lot and he is not ashamed to show his hilarity. His positive qualities have surely helped his career. He has the right dose of everything." There was a time when the brothers' communication was very close, when Paavo's words had particular weight, when mother said, 'Kristjan listens only to you.' Paavo thinks that boys judge women subconsciously according to their mother. Boys hold up their grandmother's and mother's heightened support as a model for the mother, also in their choice of a wife.
If something concerns Kristjan, he always makes his decisions himself, believes Paavo. He now has a good partner, because in the stressful life which Kristjan lives traveling through the world, he needs a tough and understanding wife and he feels that he has been lucky.
If you ask Paavo about [Kristjan's] external similarity to their parents, he says that if you look at old pictures, Kristjan is the spitting image of [their] father [Neeme]. Now, however, as a joke, you could say that he would pass completely for the famous film star John Travolta. The sincere, glamorous, appealing smile in [his] masculine face is perhaps that which makes them so similar. Also the bursting volume of energy, which makes [his] appearance attractive. The interior reflection in the whole face, if only to look pleasing.
Kristjan Jarvi on his brother Paavo:
"Older brother, this is an important position," laughs Kristjan, whose healthy laugh echoes across the ocean to Estonia -- Kristjan is at the moment on tour in America. Thirty-three-year-old Kristjan Järvi has lived a large part of his life in Western society and an English accent is discernible in his Estonian. The memory [feeling] of a second pleasant meeting arises from the unseen Kristjan as you imagine that cordial smile and passionate speech: the same spontaneity and energy as five years ago, when Kristjan conducted in Elizabeth Church in Pärnu, or in the Estonia Concert Hall last year in May, [at] the time of the Tubin Festival, when the hall was filled with ovations.
The impression remains that the man would fill every moment with the same happening and just by himself. Everything in the world is possible, you only must wish, the spontaneous Kristjan Järvi believes. Having studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music, Kristjan is now actively occupied conducting, and he gets standing ovations not only in Vienna, but [also] in Tallinn. Kristjan is so fiery and so good, fanatics are in the habit of calling him in Estonia.
Speaking of brother Paavo, Kristjan says that what comes to mind first is how well he took care of him when their parents were on a trip. "He was the authority and friend. He is the authority to me until now. When I began conducting, there was a little hesitation that [since] Paavo [wa]s already so advanced in his own career, can all the Järvis fit in the arena. I had the same kind of complex about the connection with Paavo and father." Perhaps his own band, The Absolute Ensemble, distinguishes Kristjan from his father and from Paavo, and has helped him find his own way, because the ensemble is his important role in life. The ensemble has received attention in several ways. In 2001, the ensemble was presented a Grammy recording honor [a nomination for best classical small ensemble recording].
"People who have grown up in different milieus, their grasp is only as large as their world," says Kristjan. "Paavo's world is perhaps less universal than my own, because he simply was older when we left Estonia." The music world for Kristjan does not consist of four separate genres. Pop, rock, jazz and classical are all one big music. "Paavo's opinion of the music world differs from my own, but we strive together in our own directions, look[ing] after each other and lov[ing] one another. We are one team." Paavo is peaceful, everything is under control. This is respected, especially by the orchestra. Paavo is a serious musician. He takes his work very seriously. He is interested also in politics and in life in general, because he believes that [making] music is to experience understanding and also the time and the community where the music is born.
Concerning Paavo's personal life, he is ending one stage of life and beginning a new [one], because he has a new family and a child. This is a new thing for Paavo, and he takes it very seriously. "I believe that in Paavo there is much methodical reflection. He is more a planner. He has done his own work completely, before he came to marriage. It is true, isn't it, that each year we are slightly smarter than the [year] before. So Paavo has changed his priorities with the passing years." With respect to [his] brother's personal life, Kristjan is discreet.
Proper boys of a proper family, they have been always been equals before their mother and father. The independent brothers live a happy life in different parts of the world. Although they [share] common blood with their family, they do not interfere in each other's affairs, which makes them strong and even happier yet. At Christmastime, they all make melodies in Florida, where "mother makes good and healthy food to eat and the whole family is together." This is the Järvi tradition.
The New Year brings Kristjan to Estonia to record, then comes work again with the Vienna Orchestra. Paavo continues his work in Germany, where it is admired very much, and hopefully he will manage to come also to the Paris Radio Orchestra. Naturally, ERSO and the Estonian public wait for Paavo, too. And [on February 3], Lea, Paavo's daughter, who has changed [his] life in the music world, becomes two years old.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
"Brothers in different places of the world"
A big "Bravo!" goes to our resident Estonian expert, Cincinnati Post classical music critic Mary Ellyn Hutton, for all the hard work she put into translating our previously posted Estonian interview with Paavo and Kristjan Järvi. We hope you enjoy reading it.