One of the most original contemporary composers in Estonia whose musical language comprises Oriental and Western, avant-garde and archaic, acoustic and electronic without falling into eclectic “abracadabra”.
Vähi’s music is always a subjective expression of his spirituality rooted in deep faith, which he contrasts with a hyper modern complex world and its actually intellectual and perfect, but often just as inexplicable and soulless contemporary music. … his empathy converted into mystical connections between the cultures of different countries and epochs in exotic music. (DiscorD, UK)
● Hommaga à brillance de Lune, arrangement for violin, piano and chamber orchestra, audio recording, Triin Ruubel (violin), Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, released in February 2023; in July 2023 tour of Kremerata Baltica, conductor Andres Mustonen
● Fantasy on a Theme by Beethoven for piano and symphony orchestra, recording, performers Age Juurikas (piano), Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conductor Neeme Järvi, released in February 2023
● Guitar Ocean for 5 electric guitars, electronic keyboards and timpani (in co-operation with Laur Joamets and Andre Maaker), commissioned by Jazzkaar, planned premiere on April 23rd, 2023 at the opening concert of the festival Jazzkaar in Tallinn, Estonia
● To the Mother arrangement for coloratura soprano and chamber orchestra, June 9, 2023, Vilnius Festival, performers Elina Nechayeva and Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta
● Fourty-two May 23rd, 2023, Rotterdam Town Hall / Holland, performers Matthijs Koene (pan flute), Adriaan Hoek (organ)
● Composer in Residence at Kintai Music Festival 2023, Lithuania
● Canzone capricciosa for tuba and chamber orchestra, commissioned by Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and Tallinn Philharmonic Society, planned premiere: season 2023/2024
Peeter Vähi was born in Estonia, in 1955. In his youth he learned to play the accordion, the piano and the double bass. In 1974 he began composition studies in the Estonian Academy of Music under the supervision by Prof Eino Tamberg, graduating as composer in 1980. Peeter Vähi has worked as a free-lance composer and a record producer; also as a concert producer in the Estonian National Concert Institute (1990−2000). Currently he is the artistic director of ERP (Estonian Record Productions) and of international music festivals − Eastern Music Festival Orient (1992 − present day), Glasperlenspiel Festival (1995 − present day). Since 2010, Peeter Vähi is a guest lecturer of Asian ethnomusicology at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. He is/was a member of the Estonian Composers’ Union (since 1982, a member of the board since 1992), the vice-chairman of the council of the Estonian Institute of Buddhism (2002−2014), a full member of Estonian Academic Oriental Society (since 1982), a member of Culture Council of the Estonian President (2001−2008), a member of Drikung Kagyu Ratna Shri Centre / Estonian Buddhist Community (since 1992, the president 1992−2005), and a member of Estonia-Japan Association (since 2010).
Peeter Vähi’s works are characterized by broad-minded stylistic versatility, listener-friendly sound, skilful application of exotic instruments and electronic facilities, a wide range of moods from philosophical and meditative right through to Baroque movements. Noteworthy are composer’s wide horizons, in his vocal compositions he has used the lyrics (in addition to his native Estonian language) in Sanskrit, Tibetan, German, English, Old-Prussian, Seto, Latvian, Russian, Latin, Japanese, Fulani and Coptic languages. His most important works are oratorio Mary Magdalene Gospel, Mystical Uniting for chamber ensemble, cantata Supreme Silence for mezzo-soprano, male choir and handbells, African initiation rite In the Mystical Land of Kaydara for narrator, vocal soloists, two choirs and symphony orchestra, Forty-two and To the Mother for sinfonietta orchestra, flute concerto Chant of the Celestial Lake.
Vähi’s music has been performed by European, Asian and American orchestras (among them the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, European Union Chamber Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, MDR Symphony Orchestra / Leipzig, Vienna Tonkünstler Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, State Academic Chamber Orchestra of Russia / Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Symphony Orchestra / Hamburg, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Far-East Symphony Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, Israel Camerata Jerusalem, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra), choirs (Tōkyō Philharmonic Chorus, State Choir Latvija, Shanghai Opera House Chorus, Riga Dom Cathedral Boys Choir), chamber (Slava Grigoryan, Rémi Boucher, Gidon Kremer, Duo Mari & Håkon Samuelsen, Raschèr Saxophone Quartet) and ethno musicians (Sevara Nazarkhan, Hiroyuki Koinuma, Hayashi Eitetsu taiko-ensemble, Oda Yosuke) and naturally, by most of the Estonian top musicians such as Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Estonian National Male Choir, girl’s choir Ellerhein, chamber choir Collegium Musicale, ensemble Hortus Musicus, the Järvi “dynasty”, conductors Andres Mustonen, Risto Joost and Eri Klas, Arsis handbell ensembles, bassoon-player Martin Kuuskmann, pianist-harpsichordist Irina Zahharenkova, pianists Kalle Randalu and Ivari Ilja, coloratura soprano Elina Nechayeva, rock and pop musicians Tanel Padar, Tõnis Mägi, Anne Veski, etc. In addition to the conventional venues, concerts of Vähi’s music have taken place on the open-air stage of World Exhibition EXPO 2000, in Roerich Museum, in the Royal Palace of Sweden. His music has been performed at the Estonian National Song Festivals, in the White House in Washington DC, in a Japanese Buddhist Temple, at the 50th anniversary celebrations of UNESCO in Strasbourg and at the Luzhniki Sport Arena in Moscow.
Vähi’s works have been published by ERP, Erdenklang Musikverlag, Eres Edition, Edition 49, CultureWare Music Publ, and Maren Musikverlag. His music has been released on about 75 records, including 12 solo-albums.
As a keyboarder Peeter Vähi has performed with different ensembles (pop-rock group Vitamiin, jazz-rock group Uus Generatsioon, experimental projects), orchestras and choirs (including the 30,000-members choir at the Estonian National Song Festivals). In recent decades Peeter Vähi has been in co-operation with musicians from Tibet, India, Japan, Uzbekistan, China / Taiwan, Siberia and other parts of Asia.
Blue Collage for violin, cello and symphony orchestra
Guitar Ocean for 5 electric guitars, electronic keyboards and timpani (in co-operation with Laur Joamets and Andre Maaker), commissioned by Jazzkaar, planned premiere on April 23rd, 2023 at the opening concert of the festival Jazzkaar in Tallinn, Estonia
Variazioni appassionate for symphony orchestra, based on the II movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 23
List of main works
Articles, books, blogs
Download photos: Peeter Vähi (Tallinn, 2012, photo by Kaupo Kikkas, jpg, RGB, 5.4 MB); Peeter Vähi (Tallinn, 2012, photo by Kaupo Kikkas, jpg, RGB, 4 MB); Peeter Vähi (Oman, 2003, photo by T. Jokinen, jpg, 300 dpi, 840 KB); Peeter Vähi (India, 2003, photo by T Pruuli, jpg, 300 dpi, 1.8 MB), drawing (by Andres Adamson, Pärnu Postimees, 2007, jpg, 1.8 MB), Peeter Vähi (Tallinn, 2010, photo by M Puškarev, jpg, RGB, 300 dpi, 3.3 MB); Peeter Vähi, piano (Tallinn, 2012, photo by Kaupo Kikkas, jpg, RGB, 5.75 MB); Peeter Vähi at his studio (Tallinn, 2012, photo by Kaupo Kikkas, jpg, monochrome, 4.5 MB); Peeter Vähi (Tian-shan, 2017, photo by Tiina Jokinen, jpg, RGB, 300 dpi, 3 MB)
Wikipedia (in English, German, Farsi, Ukrainian, Estonian, Finnish, Azerbaijani, Egyptian Arabic)
Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias (in German)
List of works (in French)
Estonian Music Information Centre (in English)
Estonian Composers’ Union (in Estonian)
Tähelaev (Estonian TV, 2012, 73 min)