Neeme Järvi is one of the most sought-after conductors today. His international reputation has arisen from acclaimed concert appearances, both in Europe and the United States, and from extensive recordings, in particular of Scandinavian and Slavic repertoire.
Neeme Järvi was born in 1937 in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. He graduated from the Tallinn Music School with degrees in percussion and choral conducting, and continued his studies at the Leningrad State Conservatory (from 1955-60), where he received a thorough training in opera and symphonic conducting with Nicolai Rabinovich and Evgeny Mravinsky.
During the 1960s Neeme Järvi gained a reputation far beyond the borders of his native Estonia, appearing regularly with the Leningrad Philharmonic, and conducting all the major orchestras in the important music centres of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. International acclaim came in 1971, when Neeme Järvi won First Prize at the Conducting Competition of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. In January 1980, Neeme Järvi and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union and settled in the USA. Just one month later he made his debut appearance with the New York Philharmonic.
In 1963 Neeme Järvi became Music Director of the Estonian Radio and Television Orchestra, founded the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, and was appointed Chief Conductor of the Estonian Opera House in Tallinn, a position he held for thirteen years. In addition, from 1976-1980, he was Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the newly-founded Estonian State Symphony Orchestra. From 1981 to 1988, Neeme Järvi was Music Director of the Scottish National Orchestra, and is now Conductor Laureate of this orchestra. In 1990 he took up a new position as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Since 1982 he has been Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. He is Chief Guest Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic in Tokyo and directs a conductor's masterclass in Parnu, Estonia for two weeks each July.
Neeme Järvi's engagements around the globe have included appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, the Philharmonia, Czech Philharmonic, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, WDR Symphony Orchestra, the major orchestras of Scandinavia and the symphony orchestras of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia. In the USA he appears annually with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. His operatic performances have included the Metropolitan Opera, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Opéra de Paris-Bastille and San Francisco Opera. In 1998 Neeme Järvi led the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on a highly successful tour of eight European countries.
Aound the globe, many accolades and awards have been bestowed upon Neeme Järvi. In Estonia, these include an honorary doctorate from the Music Academy of Estonia in Tallinn, and the Order of the National Coat of Arms from the President of the Republic of Estonia. The mayor of Tallinn presented Maestro Järvi with the city's first-ever ceremonial sash and coat of arms insignia, and he has been named one of the "Estonians of the Century".
Neeme Järvi holds honorary doctorates from Detroit's Wayne State Universiy, the University of Aberdeen and the Tallinn Conservatory. An honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, Järvi was dubbed a Knight Commander of the North Star Order by the King of Sweden in 1990.
Neeme Järvi has been associated with Deutsche Grammophon since 1985.