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My Life with Wagner

Cover of My Life with Wagner

My Life with Wagner

Fairies, Rings, and Redemption: Exploring Opera's Most Enigmatic Composer

One of today's most outstanding conductors, Christian Thielemann, composes a brilliant account of the great—and controversial—Richard Wagner.

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 great composer, whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his journey around the world with Wagner—from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg, and Chicago—and combines his analysis with revealing insights drawn from his many years of experience as a Wagner conductor.

Thielemann discusses each of Wagner's operas 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.My Life with Wagner is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.

One of today's most outstanding conductors, Christian Thielemann, composes a brilliant account of the great—and controversial—Richard Wagner.

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 great composer, whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his journey around the world with Wagner—from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg, and Chicago—and combines his analysis with revealing insights drawn from his many years of experience as a Wagner conductor.

Thielemann discusses each of Wagner's operas 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.My Life with Wagner is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.

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About the Author-
  • 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.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 22, 2016
    In this sometimes enigmatic and always entertaining memoir, which is also part music history, Thielemann conducts readers through the musical rings of his life as well as introducing the stories, characters, and themes of Wagner’s operas and the challenges associated with conducting them. Thielemann hears Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal for the first time when he’s in his early teens. He is overwhelmed by the colors and atmosphere of Wagner’s music and decides that he wants to “play an active part in this game,” introducing Wagner to others. At Bayreuth, Thielemann learns two of the cardinal lessons of conducting Wagner: conductors profit most from rehearsals when something doesn’t work, and they can add one little piece of mosaic to the next in practical performance. Drawing on his years of conducting, Thielemann characterizes the evocative beauty and power of each of Wagner’s operas. The so-called Tristan chord, for example, “contains everything: tension, longing, desire, melancholy, pain—and also relaxation, peace, and deep pleasure.” In The Flying Dutchman, Thielemann observes, Wagner moves away from the tradition of German Romantic opera into new directions, even though Wagner wasn’t clear where those moves would take him. In Lohengrin, Wagner pleases his audience with beauty and melody before employing novel musical techniques, foreshadowing his experimental later works. Thielemann masterfully orchestrates this colorful introduction to Wagner’s music and its themes.

  • The Sunday Telegraph 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.
  • Kirkus Reviews Thielemann's revelations about the complexities of conducting are likely to enhance any music lover's listening experiences.
  • Publishers Weekly 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.
  • The Economist An act of homage and a revealing autobiography. An informative guide to the Wagner oeuvre. Thielemann's enthusiasm breathes life into these operas.
  • The Independent (London) 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.
  • Anthony Tommasini;The New York Times The real hero of the Bayreuth Ring is not Siegfried or Brünnhilde, but the conductor Christian Thielemann.
  • Library Journal 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.
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My Life with Wagner
My Life with Wagner
Fairies, Rings, and Redemption: Exploring Opera's Most Enigmatic Composer
Christian Thielemann
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