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Neeme Järvi (Estonian pronunciation: ; born June 7, 1937) is an Estonian-born American conductor.
Järvi was born in Tallinn. He initially studied music there, and later in Leningrad at the Leningrad Conservatory under Yevgeny Mravinsky, and Nikolai Rabinovich, among others. Early in his career, he held posts with the Estonian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Opera in Tallinn. In 1971 he won first prize in the International Conductors Competition at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Järvi emigrated to the United States in 1980 with his family. He became an American citizen in 1987.
In 1982, he became the principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, and held the post for 22 years, the longest-serving principal conductor in the orchestra's history. During his Gothenburg tenure, the recording profile and reputation of the orchestra greatly increased. He also helped to secure corporate sponsorship from Volvo that allowed the orchestra to increase in size from 80 to 110 players. He retained his post in Gothenburg until 2004, and now holds the title of Principal Conductor Emeritus (Chefdirigent Emeritus) with the orchestra.
Concurrently, Järvi was also Principal Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) between 1984 and 1988. At the time, he referred to his two orchestras as his "Berlin Philharmonic" (RSNO) and his "Vienna Philharmonic" (Gothenburg). With the RSNO, he made a number of landmark recordings for Chandos notably Prokofiev and Dvořák cycles as well as Strauss's tone poems, various Shostakovich pieces, including Symphonies Nos. 4, 7 and 10, and the two violin concertos featuring Lydia Mordkovitch. After a guest-conducting appearance in December 2006 after a 9-year absence from the RSNO, the orchestra named him their Conductor Laureate.
In the USA, Järvi became Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1990. He served until 2005, and is now its Music Director Emeritus. In November 1996, Jarvi conducted a joint concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic in Camden NJ, to raise funds for the Philadelphia Orchestra, which was in the midst of a strike. He donated his services and received no fee for this concert. He received praise from US orchestra musicians for this gesture, which was controversial with several managers of American orchestras, who had urged him against conducting this concert.
Järvi became Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) in 2005, with an initial 3-year contract. With the 2007 decision by the NJSO to sell its "Golden Age" collection of string instruments, there was press speculation as to whether Järvi would renew his contract with the NJSO, as he stated that their acquisition of this collection was an important factor in his decision to accept the music directorship. When asked about the possibility of leaving after 2008, he stated: "It's very possible, but I haven't thought about it yet." In October 2007, the NJSO announced that Järvi had extended his contract as music director through the 2008-2009 season. In February 2008, the orchestra announced the conclusion of Järvi's tenure as the NJSO's music director at the end of the 2008-2009 season. In March 2009, the NJSO announced that Järvi had agreed to serve as the orchestra's artistic adviser, and named him their conductor laureate, after the scheduled conclusion of his contract as music director.
In September 2005, Järvi became Chief Conductor of the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague, with an initial contract of 4 years. In February 2008, the Residentie Orchestra announced the extension of Järvi's contract as Chief Conductor through 2011. In November 2009, the Residentie Orchestra further extended his contract through the 2012-2013 season. In August 2009, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Järvi as its next music director, for an initial contract of 3 years. In November 2010, Järvi resigned over the dismissal of the orchestra's director. In September 2010, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande named Järvi as its ninth artistic and musical director, as of 2012, with an initial contract of 3 years. Fanart Banner