Olari Elts
© Marco BorggreveArtist

„His reading of Beethoven's First Symphony was packed with personality.“

The Birmingham Post
6 / 24


Olari Elts’ passion for distinctive programming rich with invention has earned him much praise on the international music scene. He appears with such orchestras as Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Wiener Symphoniker, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orquesta Sinfonica do Porto Casa da Musica, Seattle Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gautier and Renaud Capuçon, Brett Dean, Isabelle Faust, Alban Gerhardt, Martin Grubinger, Martin Helmchen, Stephen Hough, Felix Kleiser, Kari Kriikku, Sally Matthews, Karita Mattila, Maxim Rysanov, Baiba Skride, Lara St. John, Simon Trpčeski, and Antoine Tamastit.


The 2017/18 season sees Elts return to Finnish Radio Symphony, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, RTE Dublin Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic, Slovenia Philharmonic of Llubljana, Robert-Schumann Philharmonie Chemnitz and debut with Seoul Philharmonic. Crossing genres, Elts tours to the Konzerthaus Berlin with the theatre-concert production which combines Mendelssohn and Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the Tallinn-based theatre company NO99. For Leonard Bernstein’s 100th anniversary, Elts conducts the film “On the Waterfront” with live orchestral accompaniment of the soundtrack both with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg and on a return to Orquesta Sinfonica do Porto Casa da Musica.

This season sees the continuation of a recording project of works by Estonian composer Heino Eller including Eller’s violin concerto with Baiba Skride and the Estonian National Philharmonic. Elts’ discography for Ondine includes a disc last season of Erkki-Sven Tüür works with Tapiola Sinfonietta including the viola concerto with Lawrence Power, and a release of Tüür’s Symphony No. 5 for electric guitar, orchestra, big band and the accordion concerto Prophecy. His 2016 recording of Brahms’ arrangements (Detlev, Berio) with Helsinki Philharmonic won high praise.

In the opera field, Elts led a new production of Eugene Onegin for Arctic Opera on tour in Norway in 2015 and titles such as Britten’s Albert Herring and Puccini’s Il Trittico at the Estonian National Opera as well as Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Idomeneo with both Latvian and Estonian National Symphony Orchestras. At the Opéra de Rennes, he conducted Berlioz’s La Damnation du Faust.

Elts is Artistic Advisor of the Kymi Sinfonietta and Principal Guest Conductor of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic from 2011-2014, Principal Guest of the Orchestre de Bretagne from 2006-2011, Principal Guest Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 2007-2010 and Principal Conductor of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra from 2001-2006. Born in Tallinn in 1971, Elts is founder of his contemporary music ensemble, NYYD Ensemble.

SEASON 2017/2018


“Themes and ideas, interconnections and contrasts, ricocheted across Estonian conductor Olari Elts’s cleverly constructed concert with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. […] Elts’s Rautavaara was a slow-burn, vivid with carefully etched detail and drawing intensely on the SCO players’ soloistic skills […] Elts’s Respighi was no less vivid, with an exquisite sparkle to its impeccably balanced textures – refined, but with a mischievous glint in its eye all the same. […] Elts’s Copland, too, felt intimate and introspective rather than monumental and expansive, offering a very fresh, human perspective on this well-loved classic of Americana.”

The Scotsman, David Kettle, 07.11.2017

“Elts’ conducting can be flamboyant at the same time as being meticulously precise. [...] The result in Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances had intensity and color, decisiveness and vigor, allied with the same sensitivity which pervaded the Rhapsody, plus fine work from the alto saxophone in the first movement.”

The SunBreak, Philippa Kiraly, 17.04.2017

“There’s an irresistible energy and joy in Elts’ conducting style; he leaps about the podium, sweeping his arms and hands in enthusiastic but exquisitely clear, focused gestures. His gift for revealing inner structures gave the symphony a fresh, living dimensionality.”

Artsfile Ottawa, Natasha Gauthier, 30.03.2017

“What made it really special was Elts’s remarkable handling of the orchestral texture, exquisitely balanced to revealing effect, so that you heard things you’d swear were never there before – but thankfully, never feeling in the slightest calculated.”

The Scotsman, David Kettle, 11.04.2016

“Olari Elts is a regular collaborator with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, but it hasn’t meant that he has ended up doing things out of habit. Quite the reverse. He approached Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as though it was being played for the first time, with sparkling energy, clear articulation and a sense of narrative drive that rendered the whole thing sort of unarguable.”

Seen and Heard International, Simon Thompson, 08.04.2016

“Olari Elts went on to sculpt Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony in big, sweeping gestures and a positively lurid palette of orchestral colours. [...] This was broad-brush Shostakovich, thrillingly physical and reeking of vodka and boot-leather. The ending drew cheers.”

Birmingham Post, Richard Bratby, 05.02.2016

“Elts guided an inspired Seattle Symphony orchestra with the precision of an artisan, arising new and surprising nuances from Haydn´s music.”

Opera World, Carlos J. Lopez, 23.01.2016

“The true star of the show, though, was Estonian conductor Olari Elts, who rather magically managed to conjure quite analytical, microscopically detailed performances that still sparkled with spontaneity and fresh, vivid life.”

The Scotsman, David Kettle, 11.05.2015

Go back


Borgström and Shostakovich - Violin ConcertosOlari Elts - Wiener Symphoniker - Eldbjörg (Eldbjørg) HemsingMar. 2018, BIS Records, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Erkki-Sven TüürIlluminatio for viola and orchestra; Whistles and Whispers from Uluru for recorders and string orchestra; Symphony No. 8Feb. 2018, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Brahms-GlanertBrahms-Glanert: Four Preludes and Serious Songs, Detlev Glanert: Weites Land, Brahms-Berio: Op. 120 No. 1Jan. 2017, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Poul Ruders: Symphony No.5Olari Elts conducts the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.Nov. 2016, Bridge Records, Inc., CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Erkki-Sven Tüür: Symphony No. 5Sep. 2014, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Erkki-Sven Tüür: OxymoronOlari Elts leading NYYD Ensemble and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in recordings of pre-eminent Estonian composer Erkki-Sven TüürMar. 2007, ECM Records, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Eesti Heliloojad - Estonian Composers IOlari Elts with works by Eesti HeliloojadOct. 2001, Eesti Raadio, CD
Nüüd NowOlari Elts with the NYYD Ensemble and works by Estonian composersMar. 2001, Elwood Muusik, CD