ERP artist Kristjan Randalu. Piano
Kristjan Randalu
December 11, 2011
ERP artist Lan Weiwei. Pipa
Lan Weiwei
December 11, 2011

Imagetext

PEETER VÄHI, composer

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)

List of main works
Discography
Media r
eviews
Articles, books, blogs
Photographs, exhibitions

News

Call of Sacred Drums for taiko-ensemble and symphony orchestra, May 23rd, 2025, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein Vienna, May 24th, 2025, St. Pölten / Austria, performers ensemble Kodō (Japan), Vienna Tonkünstler Symphony Orchestra and conductor Yutaka Sado
● Blue Collage for violin, cello and symphony orchestra, October 2024 – recording; October 18th, 2024 Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn – live premiere, performers Triin Ruubel (violin), Indrek Leivategija (cello), Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Neeme Järvi
● Canzone capricciosa for tuba and chamber orchestra, commissioned by Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and Tallinn Philharmonic Society, premiere and recording May 9th, 2024, White Hall of the House of the Blackheads (Tallinn, Estonia); performers Toomas Oskar Kahur (tuba), Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conductor Rasmus Puur
Hommage à brillance de Lune – (inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata), arrangement for violin, cello, vibraphone ja marimba, July 8th, Tartu St. John’s church, performer The New Baltic Sound Quartet (Lithuania / Latvia)
● Forty-two for oboe and strings, September 8th, St. Nicolaus (Niguliste) church, Tallinn, soloist Olev Ainomäe (oboe)
● Saaremaa Rondo  for organ, commissioned by James D. Hicks (USA), planned premiere in 2024, recording in Pori / Finland in January 2025, performer James D. Hicks
● One Song, One Melody… arrangement for boys’ mixed choir and symphony orchestra, June 22nd, 2024, the main concert of Tartu Song Festival, performers song festival choir and Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra
● Variazioni appassionate for symphony orchestra, based on Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 23, December 8th, 2024, premiere, Vanemuine Concert Hall, Tartu,  performers: Symphony Orchestra of Tartu Heino Eller Music College, conductor Mihhail Gerts
Earth’s Face – photo exhibition, opening August 17th, 2014 Põlva Culture Centre, in the frames of European Culture Capital Tartu 2024
● To the Mother – arrangement for 2 violins and chamber orchestra, July 21st, Haapsalu Dome Church, festival “Viiulimängud”, performers Arvo Leibur, Kaidi Ugandi, chamber orchestra, conductor Jüri-Ruut Kangur; for oboe and strings, September 8th, St. Nicolaus (Niguliste) church, Tallinn, soloist Olev Ainomäe (oboe);  arrangement for violin, kannel and organ by James D. Hicks (composer/organist, USA), recording in Pori, Finland in January 2025

 

Biography

imagetextPeeter 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). 2010−2020 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 100 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.

Works in process

Variazioni appassionate for symphony orchestra, based on the II movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 23, commissioned by and dedicated to Tartu Heino Eller Music College, planned premiere December 7th, 2024, Vanemuine Concert Hall, Tartu / Estonia, conductor Mihhail Gerts
Pathétique Recomposed for symphony orchestra, based on the I movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 8
Saaremaa Rondo  for organ, commissioned by James D. Hicks, planned premiere in 2024, recording in Pori / Filnand in January 2025, performer James D. Hicks

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 Tiina Jokinen, jpg, 300 dpi, 840 KB); Peeter Vähi (India, 2003, photo by Tiit 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)

Additional info:
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)

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