Jüri Reinvere

b. December 2, 1971, Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1996

Jüri Reinvere is a composer, poet, and essayist, who has lived abroad since 1990. Reinvere's creative work deals with existential themes in history, culture, nature, and the poetics of human cognition. Moving among different languages, cultures, and thought systems has influenced Reinvere's work on many levels and layers and has resulted in a unique and distinctive artistic journey. The writer Sofi Oksanen has called him a true cosmopolitan with Estonian roots. Reinvere is an artist who thinks on multilevels; he is a passionate metastructuralist. He has never been subject to dogmatic rules, but rather he is always looking for new and independent solutions, individuality, and his own voice. Reinvere's artistic journey is characterized by unpredictable turns. In addition to the author's texts, his works sometimes also include other artistic media such as documentaries, video, lighting, and choreography.

It is noteworthy that Reinvere has the ability to maintain an always clearly recognizable creative self in the midst of various artistic fields and among a diversity of genres and styles, along with an enchanting author's voice, which melts into one in a dreamlike fashion that is delicate and robust, high and low, beautiful and ugly. Reinvere's work in different artistic fields, as well as those outside the scope—for example, raw documentary material—result in synthetic works that are synaesthetically rich in meaning, multi-dimensional, and irrational. The fan base for Reinvere's art is not limited to the new music scene.



From 1979–1990 Jüri Reinvere studied composition with Lepo Sumera and piano with Virve Lippus at Tallinn Music High School. From 1990–1992 he continued his composition studies at the Warsaw Chopin Academy of Music with Zbigniew Rudziński. From 1992–2005 Reinvere lived in Finland, where, in 1994, he continued his studies in composition as well as in theology. In 2004 Reinvere graduated from the Sibelius Academy with a master's degree in composition; his instructors were Veli-Matti Puumala and Tapio Nevanlinna. During his studies Reinvere worked as an organist in Lahti, and as a journalist made contributions to Finnish and Estonian radio stations, he also wrote documentary screenplays and was active in film production. Reinvere has Finnish citizenship. From 2001–2003 Reinvere worked in cooperation with Michaela Fünfhausen at the Berlin Academy of Arts. Since 2005 he has lived in Berlin.

In 1993 Reinvere met the Estonian-Swedish pianist and writer Käbi Laretei who he considers to be his most important mentor. For a decade and a half he interacted closely with Laretei and Swedish film and theater director Ingmar Bergman, who gave strong impetus to the development of Reinvere's creative style. They encouraged him to consider the use of fiction, which suddenly had an organic rebound in radio and film; the prose experiments were soon followed by idiosyncratic poetry written in English. In his musical compositions Reinvere often uses his own written texts (Requiem, for example), he is also the librettist for his operas, he wrote the libretto for his opera "Purge" in Finnish and for his opera "Peer Gynt" he wrote the libretto in German. As an essayist, Reinvere has been published in the Finnish, Estonian and German press, and since 2013, he has written for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

In 2000-2001 Reinvere was a scholarship student at the Berlin Academy of Arts. His ensemble piece "Northwest" won an international award in the under-30 category in 2000, and his recorded composition "Livonian Lament" was nominated in the main category among a group of ten selected works in 2006. Reinvere's "Purge" premiered at the Finnish National Opera on April 20, 2012, after which came a commission from the Norwegian National Opera, where his opera "Peer Gynt" premiered on November 29, 2014. In 2015 Reinvere was awarded the Estonian National Culture Award for "Peer Gynt". In 2017 he received the Composition Prize of the Estonian Music Council, in 2018 he was awarded the Annual Prize of the Endowment for Music of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for the orchestral work "And Tired of Happiness, They Started to Dance".

Jüri Reinvere has released two albums: "a second ... a century" (2009) and "Requiem" (2010 CD + DVD).



Reinvere's music aesthetics follow two directions: one is the modernist approach (Requiem, electronic and electro-acoustic works, the author's texts, and natural documentary materials integrated into pieces, including The Four Quartets), the other direction is based on old traditions that are most clearly represented in his early works, for example "Urvaste Evening" with a double quartet and solo piano and " Northwest". The initial concept for the award-winning "Northwest"—which explores the relationship between innovation and tradition, the friction between constancy and change, the working in unison of contrasting images and ideas—characterizes well the throughline of Reinvere's creative principle. His music as well as his poetry are fed by the synergies that occurs when eternity collides with everyday reality. Reinvere's creations have inherent genre transitions and complex interwoven connections. It was when the composer delved deeper into his the Finno-Ugric heritage, and found most interesting the internal structure and way of thinking, that his most famous work "Livonian Lament" was born. Reinvere is a composer who proceeds from the so-called macro level toward the details.

Beginning with the composition for symphony orchestra, "Written in the Sand" (2001), associations have played an important roll in Reinvere's work, for which the basic principle is creating an exhaustive progeny of ingredients from various materials and elements. These elements may come from different worlds. In music, this means that each interval, harmony, horizontal structure, or vertical and horizontal fusion carries within it a definite meaning from the furthest or nearest past, and the composer can decide based on his experiences and intention on the clarity or obscurity of the message. By also creating his own universes with words Reinvere expands purely musical intertextuality with the literal meaning of the words and the text's interior connection. These are diverse hypertextualized connections. There is a special place for the flute and its modernistic sound interpretation in Reinvere's work, from filigreed solo repertoire ("Ricordanza"), ensemble works ("t.i.m.e", "The Arrival at the Ligurian Sea") and large scale solo flute compositions (Requiem, Concerto for Two Flutes).

Starting particularly with Requiem, Reinvere's work takes on a very clearly conscious sense of responsibility as an artist for the unfolding processes in the world. Focusing on the dark side of society and the psyche can be perceived as the result of a strong influence by Ingmar Bergman on Reinvere's creative self. All his large works of the recent period—Requiem, the opera "Purge", "Norilsk, the Daffodils", the opera "Peer Gynt", the song cycle "Lieder bei schwindendem Licht" ("Songs by the Fading Light") — share the very difficult theme of energetic spiritual transformation. The musical language of Reinvere's operas is called new expressionism, in them the composer has united his modernist and traditionalist sides with a of quality of practice in the approach—a conscious reference to the legacy of Richard Strauss and Wagner, but also to the tradition of Russian opera. The opera "Purge" (libretto based on Sofi Oksanen's novel of the same name) staged at the National Opera of Finland earned international attention with its socio-political message and powerful dramatic-musical range. Reinvere's other opera "Peer Gynt" in two acts for two choirs, with nearly ten soloists and a large orchestra, draws upon Henrik Ibsen's drama, and thanks to both the public and private ethical-existential topic and the reverberation of very painful themes (the European cultural decline in the last 150 years, the devaluation of cultural symbols, the paradoxical relationship between economics and culture, terrorism) it received coverage throughout Europe and an unprecedented high degree of interest for a new opera; the responses and polemics from the controversy, which lasted nearly half a year, influenced societal transformational processes much more widely than is typical for a new work of art in this day and age.

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