An enchanting account of the great and controversial composer Richard Wagner, by an artist immersed in his music
'Idiosyncratic, humorous, enlightening and written by one of the finest conductors alive ... This is the book to buy if you are going to see Wagner or listen to him at home' LITERARY REVIEW
Over a distinguished career conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has earned a reputation 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 with Wagner - from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg and Chicago. Next he takes each opera in turn, his appraisal illuminated by a deep affinity for the music, an intimate knowledge of the scores and the inside perspective of an outstanding practitioner. And yet for all the adulation Wagner's art inspires in him, Thielemann does not shy away from unpalatable truths about the man himself, explaining why today he is venerated and reviled in equal measure. The result is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.
A professional's manual for approaching Wagner ... Thielemann's musical explorations ... are wonderful ... [His] writing also achieves something notoriously difficult, the evocation of music in prose ... My Life with Wagner has that peculiar, confidential value of a work written not by an academic, but by an artist submerged in the music. - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
[E]xceedingly valuable ... Thielemann is fascinating on the thought processes and working practices of a musician coming to terms with Wagner ... this is a book with flashes of great insight, in which connoisseurs of the unsaid will find a good deal to ponder. - SPECTATOR
[Thielemann's] book is an act of homage, part revealing autobiography ... and part informative guide to the Wagner oeuvre, describing the plots and performances of all the operas ... His enthusiasm breathes life into them. - ECONOMIST
A sensitive and revealing book, worth reading as a document of how Western art reflects on itself, its achievements and its anxieties ... Every aspiring conductor should read this book ... Every aspiring singer should read it too[.] - LITERARY REVIEW
In one broad but illuminating sweep, Mr Thielemann surveys everything from Wagner's distinctive use of orchestration to the schemas of his operas: from the approach of different conductors to the Wagnerian Walhalla of Bayreuth ... Mr Thielemann's skill lies in conveying the power of music in words. - COUNTRY LIFE
Christian Thielemann was born in 1959. In 1988 he became Germany's youngest general music director with his appointment at Nuremberg, before returning to the Deutsche Oper in his hometown of Berlin in 1997. More recently he led the Munich Philharmonic from 2004 to 2011. In addition to his current position in Dresden, Thielemann was appointed artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival in 2013. In 2000 he made his critically lauded debut at the Bayreuth Festival, to which he has returned year after year. He was appointed music director in July 2015.