Thielemann studied viola and piano at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin and took private lessons in composition and conducting before becoming répétiteur aged 19 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with Heinrich Hollreiser and working as Herbert von Karajan's assistant. He worked at a number of smaller German theatres including the Musiktheater im Revier in Gelsenkirchen, in Karlsruhe, Hanover, at Düsseldorf's Deutsche Oper am Rhein as First Kapellmeister and in Nürnberg as Generalmusikdirektor before returning to the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1991 to conduct Wagner's Lohengrin. During this time he also assisted Daniel Barenboim at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.
His 1991/92 season debut in the United States, conducting a new production of Strauss' Elektra in San Francisco was soon followed by engagements at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1997, he became Generalmusikdirektor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. A report in 2000 stated that Thielemann was to leave the Deutsche Oper in 2001 over artistic conflicts with the then-incoming artistic director Udo Zimmermann. Thielemann remained with the company until 2004, when he resigned over conflicts regarding Berlin city funding between the Deutsche Oper and the Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
Thielemann became principal conductor and music director of the Munich Philharmonic in September 2004. He stepped down from his Munich post in 2011, after disputes with orchestra management over final approval of selection of guest conductors and programs for the orchestra. In October 2009, the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden announced the appointment of Thielemann as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2012/13 season.
Thielemann is a regular conductor at the Bayreuth and the Salzburg Festivals and he has been guest conductor at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Royal Opera House in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Vienna State Opera. With the decision in September 2008 of the Richard Wagner Festival Foundation to appoint Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier to succeed Wolfgang Wagner as directors of the Bayreuth Festival, Thielemann was named Musical Advisor, effectively the Festival's music director.
He came into confrontation with both of Berlin's other leading conductors, Daniel Barenboim and Simon Rattle. Relations with Barenboim were tense after anti-semitic remarks were attributed in 2000 to Thielemann and subsequently denied. With Rattle, the rivalry was commercial. Thielemann's 2010 New Year's Eve concert from Dresden drew a larger television audience than Rattle's from Berlin and the German conductor was quick to step in when Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic withdrew in 2011 from their long-standing involvement in the Salzburg Easter Festival.
In 2003, Thielemann was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz). He is regarded as the leading exponent of the Austro-Germanic conducting tradition, in the manner of Wilhelm Furtwängler and Karajan. In October 2011, he received honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London, a controversial appointment since he rarely conducted in the UK.
For Sony Music
For Opus Arte
- Richard Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen with Michelle Breedt (de), Albert Dohmen (de), Stephen Gould, Hans-Peter König, Linda Watson and Eva-Maria Westbroek, Bayreuth Festival orchestra, recorded live during the 2008 Festival, November 2009
- Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Wagner, Pelleas und Melisande and Siegfried Idyll, Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, November 2009
- Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier DVD with Renée Fleming, Sophie Koch (de), Diana Damrau, Franz Hawlata (de) and Jonas Kaufmann, Munich Philharmonic, October 2009
- Der kleine Hörsaal, Dirigieren mit Christian Thielemann, July 2007
- Ludwig van Beethoven, Overture "Egmont" and Johannes Brahms, Symphony No.1, Munich Philharmonic, April 2007
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Requiem, Munich Philharmonic and Choir of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, November 2006
- Richard Wagner, Parsifal, Choir and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, April 2006
- Anton Bruckner, Symphony No.5, Munich Philharmonic, March 2005
- Heinrich Marschner, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Carl Otto Nicolai, Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner, Overtures, Vienna Philharmonic, October 2004
- Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde, Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, May 2004
- Richard Strauss, Ein Heldenleben and Symphonic Fantasy of Die Frau ohne Schatten, Vienna Philharmonic, August 2003
- Albert Lortzing, Richard Strauss, Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner, Deutsche Opernarien with Thomas Quasthoff and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, April 2002
- Robert Schumann, Symphonies No.1 and No.4, Philharmonia Orchestra, 2001
- Richard Strauss, Arabella with Kiri Te Kanawa and the Orchestra and Choir of the Metropolitan Opera, March 2001
- Richard Strauss, Eine Alpensinfonie and Suite of Der Rosenkavalier, Vienna Philharmonic, March 2001
- Arnold Schoenberg, Pelleas und Melisande and Richard Wagner, Siegfried Idyll, June 1999
- Carl Orff, Carmina Burana, Choir and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, May 1999
- Robert Schumann, Symphony No.3 "Rheinische", Overture "Genoveva", Op. 81, Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Op. 52, Philharmonia Orchestra, 1999
- Richard Wagner, Orchestra Music (Lohengrin, Parsifal, Tristan und Isolde), Philadelphia Orchestra, February 1998
- Robert Schumann, Symphony No.2, Overture Manfred, Concert for 4 Horns, Op. 86, Philharmonia Orchestra, September 1997
- Ludwig van Beethoven, Funeral Cantata on the Death of the Emperor Joseph II, Robert Schumann, Konzertstück, Op. 86, for 4 Horns and Orchestra, Hans Pfitzner, Palestrina (Preludes to acts 1 and 2), 1997
- Hans Pfitzner, Music from Palestrina; Das Käthchen von Heilbronn; Richard Strauss, Guntram (prelude), Capriccio (prelude), Feuersnot (love scene), Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, 1996
For EMI Classics
- Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, Arias by René Kollo, Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, 1992
- "Obituary for Heinrich Hollreiser". The Times. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
- Warnecke (2003)
- "Christian Thielemann Biography". Deutsche Grammophon. February 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Denis Staunton (29 October 2000). "Berlin's maestros out of tune in race rown". The Observer. Retrieved 24 March 2007.
- Kate Connolly (18 May 2004). "Berlin opera chief quits in cash row". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
- ""Intrigantenstadel" – Philharmoniker ausgebuht". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- "Christian Thielemann Chefdirigent ab 2012" (Press release). Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Stephen Moss (20 July 2006). "The only star here is dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
- "Looking back and looking forward". Bayreuther Festspiele. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Roger Boyes (2 September 2008). "Wagner hits a note of peace over Bayreuth". The Times. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
- "A comment from Bayreuth on Barenboim's surprise" by Dalia Shehori, Haaretz (15 August 2001)
- "It’s Rattle’s Dude vs Thielemann – German TV’s New Year reality show" by Norman Lebrecht, Slipped Disc (30 December 2010)
- "Breaking: Rattle’s rival grabs his Salzburg slot" by Norman Lebrecht, Slipped Disc (7 June 2011)
- Senatskanzlei (25 September 2003). "Wowereit überreicht Generalmusikdirektor Thielemann Bundesverdienstkreuz". Press release by the State of Berlin. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Tom Service (15 October 2009). "Christian Thielemann – the power and the politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Ivan Hewett (29 March 2003). "Classical choice". The Times. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
- "Why is this German maestro receiving a London honour?" by Norman Lebrecht, Slipped Disc (22 October 2011)
- Kläre Warnecke: Christian Thielemann – Ein Porträt. Henschel Verlag Berlin 2003. ISBN 3-89487-465-1
- Kilian Heck/Christian Thielemann (ed.): Friedrichstein. Das Schloß der Grafen von Dönhoff in Ostpreußen. Deutscher Kunstverlag, München und Berlin 2006. ISBN 3-422-06593-8
- Thielemann biography
- Christian Thielemann by KlassikAkzente
- Christian Thielemann Biography in cosmopolis.ch
- Interview with Christian Thielemann by Bruce Duffie, March 12, 1993
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
|Music Director, Deutsche Oper, Berlin
|Music Director, Munich Philharmonic
(from 2012/13, after a
|Chief Conductor, Staatskapelle Dresden