50 questions to Paavo Järvi – Part 2

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

Melanie Kollbrunner

17. Your greatest luxury?
My two daughters live in Florida. That they can fly to me whenever we miss each other too much is my greatest luxury.

18. Which book is at the top of the bedside table?
«Absolutely on Music», a series of talks between Haruki Murakami and his friend Seiji Ozawa about their shared passion: music.

19. A pop song you like?
Billie Eilish, Bad Guy. I know it through my girls. They love Billie Eilish.

20. The most beautiful thing about music?
Music does not need words.

21. What makes a good conductor?
It is a combination of many qualities. Certainly it is about the ability to lead, to read body language. A good conductor is one who can work with people and of course one who is passionate about music. This is a really difficult question. If I knew the secret, then I would gladly reveal it. And then there would be many very good conductors.

22. And what makes a bad conductor?
A bad conductor has often become a conductor for the wrong reasons.

23. Is there a piece of advice you give to all people who lead?
Listen. Be the last to speak.

24. What children's song did you sing to your daughters when they were younger?
It's an Estonian song. There's this little sparrow that the wind blows to sleep. It's beautiful, but it's hard to translate. My grandmother sang it to me, and my father, too.

25. What do you think of when you think of seasons?
Oh, many things. In Estonia, where I come from, there are four seasons, like in Switzerland. Each season has its magic, right?

26. What magic does winter have?
Winter is magic. It makes me think of being a child in the snow. The first days of each new year I went skiing with my parents and my siblings on the hill in the south of Estonia. But let's face it, if I now board down the Swiss mountains and break my arm, then we'll have it with conducting. But I love the snow.

27. But if you don't want to ski at all, what do you love about it?
That's right, I'll do it anyway. But I also like cold, dark winter nights in the snow, everything is more concentrated. You think clearly, sharply.

28. Why do you hardly ever conduct in opera houses?
It's very time-consuming. To rehearse a new production, you have to be there for a month, which is simply not possible for me at the moment. In addition, opera houses conduct eight or sometimes ten performances in a row, which means a lot of musical routine that threatens to creep in.

29. So it's not the opera itself. Is it more the pieces?
Working with stage, light, costume or choral conducting is interesting, but it's the essence, the music that interests me most. That's why I prefer to pursue my great love of opera in concert form as often as possible. But who knows, perhaps the new General Music Director of the Opernhaus Zürich, my friend Gianandrea Noseda and I will dare to exchange ideas? We shall see.

published: 28.11.2019