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
Craig Nelson is the author of the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller ROCKET MEN: THE EPIC STORY OF THE FIRST MEN ON THE MOON, as well as several previous books, including THE AGE OF RADIANCE (a PEN America Literary Award finalist), THE FIRST HEROES, THOMAS PAINE (winner of the Henry Adams Prize) AND LET'S GET LOST (shortlisted for WHSmith's Book of the Year). His writing has appeared in VANITY FAIR, the WALL STREET JOURNAL, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and a host of other publications.