Neeme Järvi has quit the post of the principal conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
On 22 November, only three months after becoming the principal conductor and artistic director of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO), Neeme Järvi announced that he was quitting his post. Among the factors leading to this decision, Järvi mentioned his dissatisfaction with the cultural politics of the Estonian state, the insufficient funding of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, and his objection to the firing of the general manager of the orchestra by the Minister of Culture.
The problems concerning the budget of ERSO were made public this past fall, when it was announced that there was a shortage of 3 million kroons (200 000 EUR). ERSO, which is financed primarily by the state, was expected to cut its budget by 9% in 2010. However, there were also underway major organisational changes of which ERSO was to be a part of – later, these changes were called off – and therefore the situation was rather complicated.
In the local media, where the conflict gathered momentum for months, the – by now, former – general manager of ERSO blamed the tangled-up situation on the Minister of Culture. The latter countered by firing the general manager on the grounds of financial misconduct.
Last week, the Government of the Republic of Estonia announced that ERSO will be given additional funding for 2010 and also promised to increase the orchestra’s budget for 2011.
The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) has its origins in the Estonian Radio Orchestra that was founded in 1926. The repertoire of ERSO, now the leading orchestra in Estonia, features music from the Baroque era to the present day. ERSO has premiered the symphonic works of almost all Estonian composers, including Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Eduard Tubin et al. The orchestra has made several highly-appreciated recordings. In 2004, ERSO was part of the winning team – alongside conductor Paavo Järvi, the Ellerhein Girls’ Choir and the Estonian National Male Choir – who received the Grammy for the recording of Sibelius’s cantatas (Virgin Classics).
On Klassikaraadio, all the concerts performed by ERSO are broadcast live.
Nowadays, ERSO comprises approximately 100 musicians and averages 60-65 concerts per season. The post of the principal conductor of ERSO has been held by Olav Roots, Roman Matsov, Neeme Järvi, Peeter Lilje, Leo Krämer, Arvo Volmer and Nikolai Alexeev.
Neeme Järvi worked as the principal conductor of the Estonian State Symphony Orchestra, as it was called back then, from 1963–1979, until his emigration from the Soviet Union in early 1980. In the fall of 2010, after a 30-year hiatus, Neeme Järvi returned to ERSO.
Neeme Järvi was born in Tallinn in 1937. In addition to Tallinn, he studied music in St Petersburg with Prof. Nikolai Rabinovich and Yevgeni Mravinski. Järvi’s international career proper started in 1980. Soon he established himself as one of the best-known and most sought-after conductors on the planet. He has worked with a great number of the world’s leading orchestras, among them the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. At present, Neeme Järvi is Laureate Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; he is also the principal conductor of The Hague Residentie Orchestra (The Hague Philharmonic) and in charge of the Swiss-Roman Symphony Orchestra.
Neeme Järvi has recorded more than 400 LPs and CDs.