Christian Thielemann signs on for 5 more years

November 30, 2017 by norman lebrecht


The German conductor has committed to the Semper Oper in Dresden until 2024, by which time he will be 65.

He has been there since 2012.


Comments (70)

  1. Paul Thomason says:

    Great news for Dresden—lucky folks!

          1. Marie-Christine says:


  2. Thomasina says:

    Congratulations Maestro! With all my admiration for you.

  3. Theodore McGuiver says:

    It’s a good match. Quality pairing.

    1. Gustav Mahler says:

      Indeed. Very rare these days, I’m afraid.

  4. boringfileclerk says:

    So it’s pretty much more of the same thing. It’s not like he has a wide musical portfolio, and no one’s clamoring to invite him to take the helm elsewhere.

    1. Theodore McGuiver says:

      That’s missing the point. In an age where everyone feels they’re an expert in everything and never hesitate to spread themselves as thinly but inclusively as they can, it’s nice to see a phalange with a recognised expert of the genre concentrating on a – let’s admit it – extremely rich body of repertoire and maintaining a high standard in that field. Think Plasson and Toulouse and any of the great Russians with their respective bands.

      1. Petros Linardos says:

        Very well put.

    2. DESR says:

      I’m not sure a “Boring Filing Clerk” can easily render an opinion on another’s breadth of portfolio.

    3. James says:

      By which I suspect you mean he isn’t simply another Mahler huckster.
      Thank heaven for that!
      Odd how when one thinks of Mahler one also thinks of Trump. And the reverse.

      1. Sigrist says:

        I believe he’s due to conduct a Mahler 3rd in the near future.

        1. Thomasina says:

          And I think that he already conducted the 8th when he was with Munich Philharmonic.

        2. Mike_T says:

          Fake News. But if he did it would be a beautiful Mahler 3. He would do it bigly. It would be the best Mahler 3 and draw the biggest audience ever . Make Mahler Great Again!

          1. Thomasina says:

            But according to SKD’s site, he will conduct the 3th on 25-27 February 2018.

          2. Thomasina says:

            Sorry 3rd.

      2. Theodore McGuiver says:

        @James – Interesting comment. I once asked Marco Armiliato what it would take for him to get offered a big house as GMD. He said “Prove yourself in something supranational, like Mahler”.

        1. Ungeheuer says:

          Funny that MA is the embodiment of pedestrian conducting. If it reaches that level, that is.

      3. harold braun says:

        What has Mahler got to do with Trump???Smoking to much pot,dude?

    4. MacroV says:

      His repertoire is wider than his reputation suggests. But he’s peerless in Strauss and Wagner, which is nothing to shake a stick at.

      1. Pedro says:

        And Beethoven, Brahms, Puccini…

        1. Anon says:

          Beethoven? Meh…

        2. Marie-Christine says:

          Excellent too when he conducts excerpts from Lehar or Kalman masterpieces…

        3. Qwerty1234 says:

          His Beethoven interpretations are quite silly.

      2. Daphne Badger says:

        Peerless in Strauss. I’m sorry, but that is a hugely embarrassing comment. Have you heard Strauss conduct his own works?

        1. Petros Linardos says:

          I have listened to recordings of Richard Strauss conducting his own works. Great, goes without saying. But my favorites are those by Clemens Krauss. Thielemann is, IMHO unquestionably one of the very best living Strauss conductors.

          1. Olassus says:

            Yes, CT is peerless in Strauss.

            Excellent in Schumann and Bruckner. Less so in Beethoven or Wagner, where he is not ideally stable.

            I wish he would learn some Sibelius — there would be a fit.

          2. Tristan says:

            you must be joking! he is peerless in Wagner, no one since Karajan conducted Wagner like he does!

    5. Gustav Mahler says:

      He only does what he really knows to do. Others do everything and almost nothing right – but they talk alot about it…

  5. Anon says:

    what took them so long?

  6. David R Osborne says:

    Yes I like him too, apart from the odd awkward political brainfade. But he has many haters, where are they?

    1. Theodore McGuiver says:

      Maybe even they can’t find fault with him staying in Sachsen.

    2. sue says:

      I’m totally with Thielemann in this; he was representing the sentiments of his people in Dresden who are light years economically behind much of Germany and especially Bonn. He was demonstrating solidarity with his own people and I’m also admiring of anybody who dares to stand outside the politically correct vacuum. Go Christian!!

    3. Henning says:

      He is one of the present day greats amongst a very mediocre bunch!

    4. Olassus says:

      You reference his 2014 comment that we should listen to what Merkel dismissed as the “far” right, the 25,000 people demonstrating at the time in front of his Semperoper.

      Well, she didn’t listen. The concerns of the “far” group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident, or PEGIDA, were adopted in 2015 by Alternative für Deutschland, AfD, now the Bundestag’s third largest party with 92 seats and the backing of 5.8 million voters.

      So the maestro’s “odd awkward political brainfade” proved to be in tune, and the Bundeskanzlerin still hasn’t formed her next government.

      1. David R Osborne says:

        So neo-nazis get a foothold in the Bundestag, destabilising an until recently very stable and successful democracy, and you’re saying that’s a good thing?

        1. Ungeheuer says:

          David, while I distance myself from anything Nazi or far right, I am afraid it was Merkel and the EU (and their thoughtless, unilateral decisions in opening the flood gates to millions of refugees) that destabilized and probably ruined democracy on the Continent for good. The rise of parties such as Alternative for Germany are nothing but the logical consequence of Merkel and the EU’s undemocratic actions. What were they thinking? They weren’t.

          1. David R Osborne says:

            They were thinking that the right thing to do is help people in desperate need, especially when that need has been largely caused by the actions of western goverments. She had political capital to spend and she spent it.

            I have lived in Germany throughout this period and the result has been by no means a disaster, some difficulties yes, but that is to be expected.

            I saw the AfD’s disgraceful advertising everyday during the leadup to the last election. Just for a moment consider how you would feel as a Syrian refugee child who has already been through hell, having to look at that garbage.

            I think what Herr Thielemann said in 2014 was relatively mild in the light of what has come since, and I do have sympathy for those especially in the east who are doing it tough. But their problems have not been caused by brown skinned people and leaders should be making sure that the people know this, not telling them that what they are thinking is somehow OK, or that it will in any way improve the situation. The reality is that it will do quite the opposite.

          2. Olassus says:

            … the result has been by no means a disaster, some difficulties yes, but that is to be expected.

            pipe bomb plot, Frankfurt — May 2015 (Halil for Dawa FFM)
            knife attack, Berlin — Sept. 2015 (Rafik Mohamad Yousef)
            knife attack to neck, Hannover — Feb 2016 (Safia for ISIS)
            bombing plot, Düsseldorf — June 2016 (ISIS)
            ax attack, Würzburg — July 2016 (Riaz Khan Ahmadzai)
            mass shooting, Munich — July 2016 (Ali Sonboly)
            suicide bombing, Ansbach — July 2016 (Mohammad Daleel)
            bombing plot, Chemnitz — Oct. 2016 (Jaber al-Bakr)
            nail-bomb plot, Ludwigshafen — Dec. 2016 (boy for ISIS)
            truck attack, Berlin — Dec. 2016 (Anis Amri)
            roadside bombs, Dortmund — April 2017 (possibly ISIS)
            bomb plot, Berlin — April 2017 (Moroccan immigrant)

          3. David R Osborne says:

            Olasasus, a list put together to scare people and deliberately conceal the reality of the situation.

            Are these all linked to the 2015 refugee influx? Number of fatalities please? How do these statistics compare to for example, domestic homicides? Motor vehicle accidents? People falling off ladders?

            To what degree is the radicalisation of these individuals linked to the actions and provocations of neo-nazis and far right groups such as AfD?

            How do you counter the argument that all but a tiny minority of middle eastern immigrants are decent and law abiding, despite the often extreme difficulties of their personal stuations.

            Go on all you like about ISIS but they are the direct result of war criminals Bush, Blair and Howard’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Iraq. And the people coming here are not ISIS, they are the people trying to escape them.

          4. Olassus says:

            Numbers? How about these from Cologne in Dec. 2015?

            *497 sex-related crime victims
            *groping and other sexual assaults, including 22 rapes
            *perpetrators: men of Arab or North African appearance


          5. David R Osborne says:

            Olassus, of course that incident was ugly but there were 0 (count them) convictions and that is a dodgy wikipedia article clearly edited by far right trolls. In conclusion, you wouldn’t be a little bit racist by any chance would you? Go away.

          6. Olassus says:

            Four convictions, and I always think of Wikipedia as neutral.

          7. David R Osborne says:

            Olassus, Anyone can edit wikipedia, it’s prone to trolling and that article clearly has no balance. The citations are all secondary sources and I guarantee if you follow them they will lead to heresay. The convictions were for property crime.

            From what I recall in terms of the reporting of overall crime figures, that new years eve was considered unexceptional. You have to put those figures into perspective.

            All sexual assault is a serious crime, but (mainly) men of all races and faiths can be perpetrators.

            In any case, as I said before, great news for Dresden. I like Herr Thielemann as a conductor, very much.

          8. Olassus says:

            Wikipedia began the page in early Jan. 2016, just after many women came forward. It has been edited some 1,300 times.

            You said you “lived in Germany throughout this period” but you do not seem to remember the Cologne Police reporting countless times during that month, on TV and on Twitter, the phrase “men of North African appearance,” reflecting descriptions from the women.

            Perhaps your real objection here is not with Wikipedia but with the facts, amply reported in German and English, of what was a major story — one fully validating the concerns of the Dresden demonstrators Thielemann suggested we should heed.

          9. David R Osborne says:

            Olassus, and so it goes on and on. Do we engage or do we not engage the lies and distortions of the far-right? Every day I am developing greater sympathy for those who were unable to turn back the tide of misinformation in the 1930s.

            I made a statement regarding the 2015 Syrian refugee influx in response to someone else bringing it up. You chose to link it to the incident in Cologne. There is no link.

            If you and the many like you, are not prepared to consider the sheer complexity of the issues we are facing here well, I know where we are headed, history tells us that.

            I’ve said all I possibly can on the issue. It is exhausting, reply if you like, I’m out.

            Here then is a considered and thoughtful journalistic take, you’d have to ask the question ‘why did they bother?’.

  7. Scott says:

    I heard conduct the Brucker8th at Carnegie a few years ago. Boring.

    1. Thomasina says:

      Don’t worry. There is no one who forces you to listen him again.

      1. Scott says:

        I don’t plan to. It was that bad.

        1. Thomasina says:

          Right. You will be happy with your favorites.

    2. Petros Linardos says:

      I, too, was underwhelmed by Thielemann’s Bruckner 8th at Carnegie Hall in 2013. Nevertheless, I think that Thielemann’s best work is in opera, and there he be outstanding. I judge from a memorable Parsifal I attended and quite a few recordings.

  8. martain smith says:

    Compare his Wagner to Furtwängler or Knappertsbusch and think again!
    Deceased or not, the documents remain.

    1. sue says:

      What’s to be done about that? Leaders in the field are precisely that for a reason and is it fair to expect others to be in that league – other than the exceptional artist. Seriously.

  9. Pianofortissimo says:

    CT + Dresden = winning concept, more or less like HvK + Berlin.

    I hope he’ll be there the next 30 years.

    1. Anon says:

      HvK + Berlin was made big through Karajan’s unlimited appetite for global media presence and production. Karajan loved technology and the opportunities that came with it. That made that combination of HvK+BPO a global trademark.
      Thielemann on the other hand apparently is not interested in recording for CD and TV that much. Which makes his outreach more a regional one. “Weltberühmt” in Saxony and Vienna. 😉

      1. Pianofortissimo says:

        I mean artistic achievement, not medial success.

        1. Anon says:

          Of course, but without media success, the world wouldn’t know about HvK’s artistic achievements.

      2. Petros Linardos says:

        And Salzburg, and Baden-Baden.

        By today’s standards they are relatively active making recordings.

        That Thielemann doesn’t spread himself thin in tours, and keeps a focused repertoire is refreshing to me, and quite a few other people in this discussion.

        1. Marie-Christine says:

          + 1

  10. DESR says:

    Do you think he could afford a new shirt now?

    1. Qwerty1234 says:

      And shave that mustache while he’s at it 😉

      1. Pianofortissimo says:

        Yes, that picture is unfair. Photoshop?

      2. DESR says:

        Now, now Qwerty, don’t be shirty.

      3. Petros Linardos says:

        The mustache hasn’t been seen for some time, arguably due to public outcry.

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