Christian Thielemann (born 1 April 1959) is a German conductor. He is currently chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden, and the designated Generalmusikdirektor of the Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper Unter den Linden).
Biography and career
Born in West Berlin, Thielemann studied viola and piano there 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.
Thielemann made his US debut during the 1991–1992 season in a new production of Strauss' Elektra in San Francisco. Subsequent engagements at the Metropolitan Opera in New York followed. 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. His current contract with Dresden was through 2019. In November 2017, the Staatskapelle Dresden announced the extension of Thielemann's contract as chief conductor through 31 July 2024. In 2020, Thielemann was appointed honorary professor at the Carl Maria von Weber Academy of Music in Dresden.  In May 2021, Barbara Klepsch, the Culture Minister of Saxony, announced that Thielemann is to conclude his tenure with the Staatskapelle Dresden at the close of his current contract, at the end of July 2024.
Thielemann was artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival from 2013 to 2022. In January 2023, Thielemann stepped in as an emergency substitute conductor for Daniel Barenboim in a new production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. In September 2023, the Berlin Senate and the Staatsoper Unter den Linden announced the appointment of Thielemann as its next Generalmusikdirektor (GMD), effective 1 September 2024.
Thielemann has been a regular conductor at the Bayreuth Festival, following his début in 2000 with Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and at the Salzburg Festival. 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. In June 2015, the Bayreuth Festival formally announced the appointment of Thielemann as its music director. With his conducting of Lohengrin in 2018, Thielemann became the second conductor, after Felix Mottl, to conduct the ten canonical operas by Richard Wagner that are regularly performed at the Bayreuth Festival. Thielemann stood down from the Bayreuth Festival post in 2020.
In 2003, Thielemann was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz). 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. He served in the Humanitas Programme as Visiting Professor in Opera Studies at Oxford University in January 2016. In 2019, he made his first conducting appearance in the New Year's Concert with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and is scheduled to return to conduct the 2024 Vienna New Year's Concert.
For Sony Music
- Ludwig van Beethoven, "The Symphonies", Vienna Philharmonic, 2012
- New Year’s Concert 2019, Vienna Philharmonic
- Anton Bruckner, Symphony No.8, Vienna Philharmonic, 2019
- Anton Bruckner, Symphony No.3, Vienna Philharmonic, 2020
- Anton Bruckner, Symphony No.4, Vienna Philharmonic, 2020
For Opus Arte
- Richard Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen with Michelle Breedt, Albert Dohmen, 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, Diana Damrau, Franz Hawlata 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, 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
For Unitel Classica
- Richard Strauss, Arabella. Live recording of Salzburg Easter Festival 2014. DVD and Blu-ray with Renée Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, Daniel Behle. Stage director: Florentine Klepper, Sächsischer Staatsopernchor and Staatskapelle Dresden. Unitel Classica, September 2014.
TV and film productions
Productions about Thielemann
- Christian Thielemann, documentary film, Germany, 2012, directed by Mathias Siebert, produced by Bremedia Produktion, Radio Bremen, MDR, in the serial Deutschland, deine Künstler.
- 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.
Productions with Thielemann
- 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.
Concert records on TV
- The Vienna Philharmonic in Beijing (Die Wiener Philharmoniker in Beijing). National Centre for the Performing Arts of Beijing, recording of 3 November 2013, 3sat
- Wagner Birthday Concert: Thielemann conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden (Wagner-Geburtstagskonzert: Thielemann dirigiert die Sächsische Staatskapelle), recording of Mai 21, 2013, directed by: Michael Beyer, ZDF
- Thielemann conducts Strauß (Thielemann dirigiert Strauß), Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic, Salzburg Festival 2011, Great Festival Hall, Salzburg, directed by Michael Beyer, 3sat
- Summer Night Music with Christian Thielemann (Sommernachtsmusik mit Christian Thielemann), Christian Thielemann conducts the Munich Philharmonic, Herrenchiemsee Palace, 31 August 2010, directed by Henning Kasten, ZDF and Arte
- 2003: Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz)
- 2011: Honorary doctorate from Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, Weimar
- 2011: Honorary membership (HonRAM) in the Royal Academy of Music, London
- 2012: Honorary doctorate from the KU Leuven, Belgium
- 2015: Richard Wagner Award (Richard-Wagner-Preis)
- Kilian Heck; Christian Thielemann (2006). Friedrichstein. Das Schloss der Grafen von Dönhoff in Ostpreußen. Munich/Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag. ISBN 978-3-422-06593-2.
- Christian Thielemann, Mein Leben mit Wagner. Munich: Beck, 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-63446-8
- Christian Thielemann, Meine Reise zu Beethoven. Munich: Beck, 2020, ISBN 978-3-406-75765-5
- "Christian Thielemann wird neuer Generalmusikdirektor der Staatsoper Unter den Linden" (Press release). Staatsoper Unter den Linden. 27 September 2023. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
- "Obituary for Heinrich Hollreiser". The Times. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
- Kläre Warnecke. Christian Thielemann. Ein Portrait. Berlin: Henschel. ISBN 3-89487-465-1.[page needed]
- Denis Staunton (29 October 2000). "Berlin's maestros out of tune in race row". 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. Archived from the original on 21 December 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- "Christian Thielemann Chefdirigent ab 2012" (Press release). Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- "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.
- "Vertragsverlängerung von Christian Thielemann beschlossen" (Press release). Staatskapelle Dresden. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
- "Christian Thielemann Archive".
- "Sächsische Staatskapelle: Vertrag mit Christian Thielemann wird nicht verlängert". MDR Kultur. 11 May 2021. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
- "Thielemann wird Nachfolger von Barenboim an Berliner Staatsoper". Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb24). 27 September 2023. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
- Javier C. Hernández (27 September 2023). "Christian Thielemann to Succeed Daniel Barenboim at Berlin State Opera". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
- Moss, Stephen (20 July 2006). "The only star here is dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- "Looking back and looking forward". Bayreuther Festspiele. 28 August 2010. Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- "Christian Thielemann wird Musikdirektor in Bayreuth". Der Tagesspiegel. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- Senatskanzlei (25 September 2003). "Wowereit überreicht Generalmusikdirektor Thielemann Bundesverdienstkreuz". Press release by the State of Berlin. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Richard Wagner Award for conductor Thielemann, News Directory, March 4, 2015. Archived 9 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- Tosic, Ljubisa (1 January 2019). "Thielemann überzeugt als Debütant des Neujahrskonzerts". Der Standard. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
- "New Year's Concert 2019 / Thielemann". Vienna Philharmonic. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
- Wiener Philharmoniker. "New Year's Concert 2024 to be conducted by Maestro Christian Thielemann". Retrieved 1 January 2023.
- Information by ARD, Online-Video
- Information by avanti media
- Information and video by sky arts
- Arte, August 2010. Archived 3 April 2015 at archive.today
- Christian Thielemann by KlassikAkzente
- Christian Thielemann Biography in cosmopolis.ch
- Interview with Christian Thielemann, 12 March 1993
- "Christian Thielemann – the power and the politics" by Tom Service, The Guardian, 15 October 2009
- "Christian Thielemann citation" by James Jolly, Royal Academy of Music, 14 October 2011
- "A Conductor's Point of View" Archived 1 January 2019 at the Wayback Machine, 21 January 2016 programme, Oxford University