My Life with Wagner, Hardback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


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.

The book combines reminiscence and analysis with revealing insights drawn from Thielemann's many years of experience as a Wagner conductor.

Taking each opera in turn, his appraisal is 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. My Life with Wagner is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Opera
  • ISBN: 9780297608554

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This is a wonderful book and a great aid in understanding Wagner. The author is a well known German conductor of somewhat staid and even right wing views. Still, the book is a great read. After discussing what it is to conduct the master, he goes into the structure of the Festival House in Bayreuth, Wagner's own built opera house. Then he tackles the works, one by one in chronological order, in each one talking about the origins of the work, the plot the music and various recordings that he admires. This is very useful. As a 74 year old person, I have seen all of the Wagner works at least once, but I have only recently (last few years) heard the Ring in its entirety, first at the Met with the spectacular staging, and then in Seattle. Also, it was only recently that I went to Germany and visited the opera house in Bayreuth. The place is marvelous but crazy and spooky. The time I visited, the talk was in German, but a Swedish gentleman was able to translate most of it. I sat in the conductor's chair for a bit in order to let the people see what the person could look like, and the hall is wonderfully structured. The seats are all on the orchestra level, in contrast to the Margravial opera house in town which is an 18th century relic.I look forward to more Wagner productions and to listening for the magic Chords in Tristan of which the author speaks. I know nothing about music but am determined to find out more, and this book is a step in the right direction.

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