“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)
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, 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, 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, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Symphony Orchestra / Hamburg, Gothenburg Symphony 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) 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, coloratura soprano Elina Nechayeva, bassoon-player Martin Kuuskmann, pianist-harpsichordist Irina Zahharenkova, pianist Kalle Randalu, rock and pop musicians Tanel Padar, Tõnis Mägi, Ivo Linna, 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 70 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 close co-operation with musicians from Tibet, India, Japan, Uzbekistan, China / Taiwan, Siberia and other parts of Asia.
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)
Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias (in German)
List of works (in French)
Estonian Music Information Centre (in Estonian, English)
Estonian Composers’ Union (in Estonian)
Edition49 (in Estonian, English, German, French)
Tähelaev (Estonian TV, 2012, 73 min)
See also interview with Peeter Vähi (Lev Ryzhkov, Sputnik, 06.10.16, Moscow / Russia, in Russian language)