50 questions to Paavo Järvi – Part 3

With 50 answers the new Chief Conductor and Music Director Paavo Järvi will take you through his first year in Zurich.

Melanie Kollbrunner

30. Did you ever compose?
Sure, yes. When I was younger, especially in college. But I soon realized that my way would be conducting. After all, it's my background, family reasons. And I love people. Composers are lonely creators.

31. What would have become of you if not a musician?
I don't know. I really don't know. Probably nothing (laughs).

32. What does music give you?
Money! Not what you were looking for? All right. Music gives me everything. It's my reason for getting up in the morning. Music gives me purpose.

33. What role can it play in society?
A really difficult question. I try to avoid all clichés, because this question is at the heart of my work. What music, what art can do, is subtle but powerful. It touches our psyche, our whole being. It has to do with beauty and with feeling it shared. It hits the most human thing in all of us as a counterpart in a world where efficient production, financial gain demand a lot from us. We need a counterweight to this, urgently. If you look at the world as it has developed over the last 15 years, this becomes obvious. Money for culture and education is being cut back, money is being invested in the military. We must create a counterweight in this world, we must meet it with humanity, for example with music.

34. Where is your home?
Where my daughters are. Where there is music. We put it together as often as we can.

35. Do your daughters still have a connection to Estonia and the Estonian language?
I hope so. I speak Estonian with them, they spend the summer with the family in Estonia and at my Pärnu Music Festival.

36. Do your daughters share your enthusiasm and love for music?
Yes. For all of us, music is a connecting, essential part of life.

37. Do the two of them play an instrument or are they otherwise occupied with music?
One of my daughters dances ballet, the other one receives a classical singing education. And both play (thinks about it for a while) – the piano really well.

38. To what extent did you encourage this?
I'm not here to give advice to parents. I am a father who travels so much. If someone still wants one, when it comes to music: we have always listened to music, arias, sonatas, of course alongside all other styles. We watched opera recordings together. Children love this theatrical world, they love melodies. Music, including classical music, became a natural part of my daughters' world.

39. Do you think they will become musicians?
Then they have to be serious now. Practice. And that doesn't mean that they will reach the top. It is not an easy path.

40. Is it a path that you would wish them?
It doesn't matter to me what they do, I only wish them joy, that they are fulfilled. If they want to be musicians, then by all means. I love my work. If you want to go this way, then it is the only right way, then you have to go it.

published: 10.01.2020