Kristjan Järvi, son of Neeme Järvi, studied Piano with Nina Svetlanova at the Manhattan School of Music and Conducting with Kenneth Kiesler at the University of Michigan.
A native Estonian, he began his career at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as an assistant to Esa-Pekka Salonen. He has toured extensively with the Tonkünstler Orchestra Vienna, whose principal conductor he was, and appeared as guest conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, the Orchestre National de France, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo.
His strong interest in the music of the 20th and 21st centuries helped Järvi create in 1993 in New York the Absolute Ensemble, which dedicates itself not only to classical music, but also to world music, to hip hop, rock and jazz. With this ensemble the conductor received the 2007 Bremen Music Prize.