Over the course of a distinguished career conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has emerged as the leading modern interpreter of Richard Wagner. My Life with Wagner chronicles his ardent personal and professional engagement with the composer whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his journey around the world—from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg and Chicago—and combines analysis with revealing insights drawn from Thielemann's many years of experience as a Wagner conductor. Thielemann takes on each of Wagner's opera in turn, and his appraisal is illuminated by a deep affinity for the music, an intimate knowledge of the scores, and the inside perspective of a world-class practitioner. And yet for all the adulation Wagner's art inspires, Thielemann does not shy away from unpalatable truths about the man himself, explaining why today Wagner is venerated and reviled in equal measure. A richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.
Christian Thielemann has been the conductor of the Deutsche Oper, the Munich Philharmonic, and isthe current artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival. He is a regular guest of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, as well as the Metropolitan Opera and has received an honorary appointment to the Royal Academy of Music in London. He won the Richard Wagner Award in 2015 and lives in Germany, where he is currently the conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden.
"The real hero of the Bayreuth Ring is not Siegfried or Brünnhilde, but the conductor Christian Thielemann."
– Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
"A sometimes enigmatic and always entertaining memoir, which is also part music history. Drawing on his years of conducting, Thielemann characterizes the evocative beauty and power of each of Wagner’s operas. Thielemann masterfully orchestrates this colorful introduction to Wagner’s music and its themes."
– Publishers Weekly
"Thielemann's musical explorations are wonderful. His writing has achieved something notoriously difficult: the evocation of music in prose. My Life with Wagner has that peculiar, confidential value of a work written not be an academic, but by an artist submerged in the music."
– The Sunday Telegraph
"Besides exploring Wagner’s life and times, Thielemann provides useful commentary on each of the composer’s operas. A compelling take on what it’s like to stand at the podium, ready to set orchestra and singers in motion for a performance created by one of the world’s greatest composers."
– Library Journal
"Thielemann's revelations about the complexities of conducting are likely to enhance any music lover's listening experiences."
– Kirkus Reviews
"An act of homage and a revealing autobiography. An informative guide to the Wagner oeuvre. Thielemann's enthusiasm breathes life into these operas."
– The Economist
"Viscerally exposes the levels of perfectionism required in a virtuoso. Without alienating the lay reader, he gets across the complexity of a Wagner score and the infinite interpretive possibilities."