Christian Thielemann was born in Berlin in 1959 and began what Karajan called the classical conductor’s “hard but indispensable slog” through numerous small theatres at an early age. After 20 years of operatic experience, Thielemann, who also has been guest conductor-in-chief at the Teatro Comunale of Bologna, started concentrating on a few selected orchestras and opera houses such as Covent Garden in London, the Metropolitan in New York and the Vienna State Opera. From 1997–2004 he was music director of the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, and in 2004 he was appointed music director of the Münchner Philharmoniker. Thielemann received Germany’s Bundesverdienstkreuz in 2003.
Conducts Wagner’s Lohengrin with great success at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin
US debut conducting a new production of Strauss’s Elektra in San Francisco, soon followed by engagements at the Metropolitan, including Strauss’s Rosenkavalier and, later, Arabella with Kiri Te Kanawa (release on Deutsche Grammophon).
After engagements at all the major Italian opera houses, named Principal Guest Conductor of the Teatro Comunale of Bologna
Conducts new production of Pfitzner’s Palestrina at the Deutsche Oper; becomes exclusive artist of Deutsche Grammophon – first releases: Preludes and Overtures by Pfitzner and Strauss with the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper, and Beethoven Symphonies nos. 5 & 7 with the Philharmonia
Conducts Wagner’s Die Meistersinger at the Deutsche Oper as well as a new production of Palestrina at Covent Garden, having appeared there during earlier seasons with Janáèek’s Jenufa and Strauss’s Elektra
Becomes Generalmusikdirektor of the Deutsche Oper (until 2004); at that house since then he has conducted Mozart’s Figaro, all of Wagner’s later operas including the complete Ring‚ Strauss’s Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Daphne‚ Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron and Henze’s Der Prinz von Homburg; concert performances of Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena at Covent Garden; debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw and Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestras; CD releases include Schumann’s Second Symphony, the beginning of a complete cycle with the Philharmonia (coupled with the Manfred Overture and Konzertstück for 4 horns), and Wagner Overtures and Preludes with the Philadelphia Orchestra
Recordings of Orff’s Carmina burana with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper and Schumann’s Symphony no. 3 coupled with Overture, Scherzo & Finale and Genoveva Overture (Echo Award‚ 2000) released this year
Bayreuth Festival debut conducting Wagner’s Die Meistersinger; Wiener Philharmoniker debut conducting works by Strauss (Alpine Symphony and Rosenkavalier Suite), recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon (Edison Award‚ 2002); CD release of Schoenberg’s Pelleas und Melisande and Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll with the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper
Conducts Parsifal at Bayreuth and a new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Metropolitan; directs the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper at a Wagner Festival held in Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées; CD releases include the Wiener Philharmoniker Strauss recordings and Schumann’s Symphonies nos. 1 & 4, completing the cycle with the Philharmonia
Salzburg Easter Festival debut conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker; Salzburg Festival debut conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker; conducts a new production of Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival; concerts with the Wiener Philharmoniker in Vienna’s Musikverein and in London, Paris and Dortmund; conducts the Münchner Philharmoniker (Munich Philharmonic Orchestra) in a Strauss-Pfitzner-Wagner programme and in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; release of his CD Evening Star with Thomas Quasthoff and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper (CD Compact, Barcelona, 2003)
Conducts a new production of Wagner’s Tristan at the Vienna State Opera; returns to Bayreuth to conduct performances of Tannhäuser; tour to Japan with the Wiener Philharmoniker; releases this year include his recording with the Wiener Philharmoniker of Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and the suite from Die Frau ohne Schatten (Choc du Monde de la Musique, 2003)
Becomes music director of the Münchner Philharmoniker, programming Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony as his inaugural concert in October with his new orchestra; conducts Die Frau ohne Schatten, Die tote Stadt, La fanciulla del West, and Parsifal at the Deutsche Oper, Tristan at the Vienna State Opera, and Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival; autumn tour of Spain, Greece, Austria and Germany with the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper; CD releases: Tristan und Isolde, recorded live at the Vienna State Opera, and German overtures with the Wiener Philharmoniker
Der Rosenkavalier, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Daphne at the Deutsche Oper, Parsifal at the Vienna State Opera and Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival; concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Berlin, the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Salzburg Festival, and the Münchner Philharmoniker in Munich as well as on tour throughout Germany with Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony; concerts with the Munich orchestra in Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands; concert in honour of the new Pope Benedikt XVI in the Vatican. CD release of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, the live recording of his first concerts as music director of the Münchner Philharmoniker
Concerts in Germany, Belgium, France and Spain with the Münchner Philharmoniker, in Berlin with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and in Vienna and on tour in Germany and to Brussels with the Wiener Philharmoniker; conducts new production of Wagner’s Ring at the Bayreuth Festival. Appears with Plácido Domingo and the Münchner Philharmoniker on the occasion of the Football World Cup in Munich. CD releases: Parsifal from Vienna and the Mozart Requiem from Munich
Conducts the Münchner Philharmoniker in Germany, Austria and Spain (Bruckner, Beethoven, Schumann, Strauss), Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem with Christine Schäfer and Christian Gerhaher in Munich, and a Wagner programme with René Pape also in Munich; Beethoven with the Wiener Philharmoniker in Austria, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin; Schumann and Brahms with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Berlin. Once again Christian Thielemann conducts the Ring at the Bayreuth Festival. A further highlight of the year is the world-premiere performance in April of Siegfried Matthus’s Lamento with the Münchner Philharmoniker. CD releases: Beethoven’s Egmont Overture coupled with Brahms’s Symphony no. 1 in the spring, and a Wagner programme with René Pape (scheduled for release in the autumn)