Christian Thielemann

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Christian Thielemann rehearsing at Vienna State Opera, 2015

Christian Thielemann (born 1 April 1959 in West Berlin) is a German conductor. He is Chief Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival.

Biography and career[edit]

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[1] and working as Herbert von Karajan's assistant.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] In October 2009, the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden announced the appointment of Thielemann as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2012/13 season.[6] His current contract with Dresden was through 2019.[7] In November 2017, the Staatskapelle Dresden announced the extension of Thielemann's contract as chief conductor through 31 July 2024.[8]

Thielemann is a regular conductor at the Bayreuth Festival, following his début in 2000 with Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and at the Salzburg Festival.[9] 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.[10] In June 2015, the Bayreuth Festival formally announced the appointment of Thielemann as its music director.[11]

Thielemann attracted controversy after attribution of anti-semitic remarks to him in 2000, regarding Daniel Barenboim, which Thielemann subsequently denied.[12][13] Other controversy has related to Thielemann's publication of opinions in sympathy with the Pegida movement.[14]

In 2003, Thielemann was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz).[15] In October 2011, he received honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 2015, Thielemann won the Richard Wagner Award (Richard-Wagner-Preis) of Leipzig.[16] He served in the Humanitas Programme as Visiting Professor in Opera Studies at Oxford University in January 2016.

He conducted the Vienna Philharmonic 2019 New Year's Concert for the very first time.


For Sony Music

For Profil

For Opus Arte

For Brilliant Classics

For Decca

For Deutsche Grammophon

For EMI Classics

  • Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, Arias by René Kollo, Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, 1992

For Unitel Classica

TV and film productions[edit]

Productions about Thielemann[edit]

  • Christian Thielemann, documentary film, Germany, 2012, directed by Mathias Siebert, produced by Bremedia Produktion, Radio Bremen, MDR, in the serial Deutschland, deine Künstler. Information by ARD, Online-Video
  • Christian Thielemann – Romantischer Querkopf, documentary film by Felix Schmidt, 2007, produced by FTS Media and Unitel, coproduced by Classica
  • Through the Night with Christoph Schlingensief and Christian Thielemann (Durch die Nacht mit …), documentary film, Germany, 2002, directed by: Edda Baumann-von Broen and Daniel Finkernagel, produced by: avanti media, ZDF and arte. Information by avanti media

Productions with Thielemann[edit]

  • Frederick the Great Remix (Der Große Friedrich Remix – Musik um den Preußenkönig), directed by Friederike Schlumbom, Oktober 18, 2012, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg
  • Discovering Beethoven (Beethoven entdecken), documentary TV serial, Germany, Austria, 2011, directed by Christoph Engel and Anca-Monica Pandelea, produced by: Unitel Classica, ORF, ZDF, 3sat
    Joachim Kaiser and Christian Thielemann talk about Beethoven's nine symphonies by . Information and video by sky arts

Concert records on TV[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Christian Thielemann. Ein Portrait – Warnecke, Kläre (2003), Henschel, Berlin. ISBN 3-89487-465-1

Other works[edit]


  1. ^ "Obituary for Heinrich Hollreiser". The Times. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  2. ^ Warnecke (2003)
  3. ^ Denis Staunton (29 October 2000). "Berlin's maestros out of tune in race rown". The Observer. Retrieved 24 March 2007.
  4. ^ Kate Connolly (18 May 2004). "Berlin opera chief quits in cash row". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  5. ^ ""Intrigantenstadel" – Philharmoniker ausgebuht". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 16 October 2009. Archived from the original on 21 December 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
  6. ^ "Christian Thielemann Chefdirigent ab 2012" (Press release). Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  7. ^ "Bei der Staatskapelle Dresden beginnt die Thielemann-Ära". Die Zeit. 27 August 2012. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Vertragsverlängerung von Christian Thielemann beschlossen" (Press release). Staatskapelle Dresden. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  9. ^ Moss, Stephen (20 July 2006). "'The only star here is dead'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Looking back and looking forward". Bayreuther Festspiele. 28 August 2010. Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Christian Thielemann wird Musikdirektor in Bayreuth". Der Tagesspiegel. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  12. ^ "A comment from Bayreuth on Barenboim's surprise" by Dalia Shehori, Haaretz (15 August 2001)
  13. ^ Stephen Moss (3 January 2001). "'What has C sharp minor got to do with fascism?'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  14. ^ Christian Thielemann (24 January 2015). "Ohren auf!". Sächsische Zeitung. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  15. ^ Senatskanzlei (25 September 2003). "Wowereit überreicht Generalmusikdirektor Thielemann Bundesverdienstkreuz". Press release by the State of Berlin. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  16. ^ Richard Wagner Award for conductor Thielemann, News Directory, March 4, 2015. Archived 9 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Arte, August 2010. Archived 3 April 2015 at

External links[edit]