b. October 13, 1953, Tallinn
Paul Mägi graduated in 1972 from the Tallinn Music High School, where he had studied violin with Endel Lippus and trumpet with Tõnu Tarum. He continued studies at the Tallinn State Conservatoire in Tõnu Tarum’s trumpet class, from where he graduated in 1980. In 1984, Paul Mägi graduated from the Moscow Conservatoire, having studied conducting with Gennady Rozhdestvensky.
In 1974, Paul Mägi founded a chamber orchestra at the Estonian Radio, which in 1978 became known as the Estonian Radio Chamber Orchestra. Until 1984, Paul Mägi was the artistic director of it. In 1978–1984, he conducted the Estonian Television and Estonian Radio Light Music Orchestra. In 1980, he was the founder of another music collective – the Estonian Radio Big Band, being also the artistic director of it. In 1984–1988, he worked as a conductor at the USSR Ministry of Culture State Symphony Orchestra.
In 1984–1991, Mägi worked as a coductor at theatre Estonia, and in 1990–1994 as the artistic director ang principal conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. He has been performing in numerous concert halls in Europe and USA with such orchestras as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, Ecuador National Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg and Malmö symphony orchestras, and many others. He has conducted orchestras in festivals like Les Fêtes Musicales en Touraine, Chichester Festivities, Festival Costa do Estoril etc.
In 1995–1997, Mägi was the artistic director of theatre Estonia. During that periode he originated renaming theatre Estonia Estonian National Opera and in 1998–2002, he was the first artistic director ja principal conductor of it. He commissioned several new stage works from Estonian composers, including Heart by Raimo Kangro and Gurmans by Rene Eespere, and organized recordings of operas as Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi (2000) and Cyrano de Bergerac by Eino Tamberg (2004).
He has been the artistic director and conductor of symphony orchestra of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, and the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra since 2004. He has also taught conducting at the Latvian Academy of Music (1991-1994). Since 1989, Mägi teaches conducting at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and has led master classes as a guest professor at the Stockholm Royal College of Music. Among his students are Erki Pehk, Pauls Putninš, Thomas Kemp, Aivo Välja, Olari Elts, Mihhail Gerts, Lehari Kaustel and many others.
Magi has been conductor of several Estonian orchestras, including Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, he has been first performer and organizer of recordings of Estonian composers’ works as Erkki-sven Tüür`s II Symphony (Finlandia records, 2004) and Eduard Tubin`s Reigi õpetaja (Ondine, 1992). Since the season 2010/2011, Paul Mägi continues as the chief conductor and musical director of theatre Vanemuine in Tartu.
Paul Mägi has been a member of the Estonian Theatre Union 1988–2002, he has been awarded Young Musician Prize in 1985, Cultural Award of the Republic of Latvia in 1994, awards of the Estonian Theatre Union in 1994, 1996 and 1999, the Annual Music Prize of the Estonian Cultural Endowment in 2000, and the Order of White Star, Class IV in 2001. In 2013 Paul Mägi was given Annual Prize of the Estonian Cultural Endowment.
Besides conducting, Paul Mägi has also been a jazz violinist and has performed with London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1978, he was awarded a special prize of Polish magazine Jazz Forum in Thblisi. He has played with several Estonian ensembles and rock groups such as Hortus Musicus, Varjud, Hõim and Ruja.
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