Christian Thielemann is no longer chief at Bayreuth

Christian Thielemann is no longer chief at Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

May 14, 2021

Following his dismissal by Dresden this week, journalists have noticed that Thielemann’s name has disappeared from the website of the Bayreuth Festival.

This has drawn the following response from the festival’s head of press, Hubertus Herrmann:

He has not been a music director since January 1, 2021, that’s correct. The talks about the continuation of his activity and his name in Bayreuth have not yet been concluded. Whether the position of music director will continue to exist in Bayreuth in the future has also not yet been finally decided, so we have currently removed the title from the website.


  • Gustavo says:


    Die Kassen sind leer.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The removal of one name from a website is already saving ca. 7,34 Euros, a purely technical measure that does not affect the person him/herself.

  • Fernandel says:

    Great conductors are not wanted anymore. The fact’s uncommonly clear (as Sinatra sings in “Angel Eyes”…)

    • Donna Pasquale says:

      Not valid here as CT is not a great conductor

    • David Spence says:

      Thielemann is a great conductor? Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano, Fabio Luisi, Jonathan Nott are not? What are the criteria, what are the credentials called for? There are moments Thielemann I gather has touched upon an element of greatness perhaps, but overall the track record, as far as I could hear it – his Brahms 4 on dvd from Dresden is no less wayward, erratic than the one I heard in Academy of Music a cold November night in 1997 – is erratic, including on some of his Wagner and Strauss and his new Bruckner 8 with Vienna PO is totally amorphous. Listening to a Sinopoli Mahler 5 with Dresden the other night from just twenty years ago proved that Stk Dresden could still have a distinctive sound of its own – and also characterfully perform Mahler. I have yet to run across having such an experience with Bruckner from there under Thielemann. He wants to change it into sounding like Berlin, and perhaps the Dresden players and audiences have grown weary of doing this.

  • Petros Linardos says:


  • Identity Politics says:

    White man are not wanted anymore. It doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad musicians. It just matters whether they promote the “right image” that is fashionable at a given moment or not.

  • justin says:

    Thielemann should decamp for America, I can see him very well at the head of the Chicago Symphony. Bring back some Teutonic rigor to the orchestra sorely lacking under Muti and Barenboim.

    • Fernandel says:

      Forget it ! Thielemann loathes the life in the States. Spending 10 or 12 weeks there would be a torture for him.

    • sam says:

      Chicago has never recorded the Ring, perhaps never even done it in concert in a single season, despite its famed brass, despite having Solti (I guess Solti is like, been there, done that, with Vienna, sorry).

      Thielemann has all the right stuff to record a Ring for the ages with Chicago. If nothing else, Chicago should engage him for that. (As soon as Muti is gone of course, who hates sharing the limelight, but I mean, how many bloody Verdi Requiems can Chicago play?)

      • Vaquero357 says:

        The CSO *has* performed all of Das Rheingold in concert – April 1983 under Solti. I remember the broadcast well and have the cassettes sitting on my desk right now.

        I think they did an act of Parsifal (Act II, maybe) under Barenboim. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d done Act I of Die Walkure, though I have no recollection of such a performance.

        Certainly a great Wagner orchestra under Solti. I can’t honestly say Thielemann is a Wagner conductor of similar stature (though I also don’t agree with the highly dismissive comments about him here, either).

      • Gaffney Feskoe says:

        Ferdinand Leitner performed a complete Ring at the Chicago Lyric Opera one per season in 1971-1974.

    • Donna Pasquale says:

      But he is dreadful! Of his tiny repertoire he distorts and twists and turns. He would never fill the hall and he is not in the same league as Barenboim and to a lesser extent Muti. A middle ranking obscure orchestra would suit him well.

  • AngloGerman says:

    Removing the greatest living Wagnerian from the place of pilgrimage for Wagnerians – once again, one cannot comprehend what they are even thinking.

    • RW2013 says:

      Indeed, but giving the next generation of Wagnerians like Inkinobody and conductress Lyniv a chance.

    • Tamino says:

      I‘ve heard better Wagner from Barenboim and Petrenko. CT is sometimes quite good, if he feels like rehearsing a bit, but his, not organically felt, artificial rubati and dynamic mannerisms expose him as not so great than he is made to be by the ‚we must have a Teutonic conducting holy grail keeper’ fraction.

      • urania says:

        All is since decades politics and now they need to adjust to the green and linke girls in Berlin.

        • Tamino says:

          That seems far fetched. Political Berlin – all fractions – doesn’t care the least about Bayreuth or how teutonic or not teutonic the Holy Grail keepers on the Green Hill are. Current Chancellor and Wagnerian Merkel is an exception, not the norm.

    • operacentric says:

      He hasn’t been ‘removed’ – it sounds like his contract terms are being discussed (as in a renewal or, indeed, as departure)

    • operacentric says:

      He has now been removed though, has he? It sounds like either his contract is being discussed or terms of departure agreed.

    • Edoardo says:

      If you want to listen to great Wagner perfomances, Bayreuth if definitely to the first choice: there other places more affordable and more accessible.

  • Gustavo says:

    Green-washing the Green Hill

    A strategic move against the rightish Wagnerite establishment in view of a looming green government post Merkel.

    Stefan Mickisch could see this coming.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Interestingly, Wagner himself was all for Nature and its preservation, which he saw threatened by both Christianity and industrialization.

      • Gustavo says:

        “Naturschutz” was invented in Nazi-Germany to protect animal and plant species.

        The greens of our times are more for environmental protection (Umweltschutz) to secure wind-powered E-mobility in a nuclear-free urban jungle. It is a very anthropocentric movement and has got nothing in common with the Karfreitagszauber-message.

        • Tamino says:

          Nonsense. ‘Naturschutz’ is a child of the age of industrialisation (for obvious reasons). It emerged toward the end of the 19th century.

          • Gustavo says:

            Das Reichsnaturschutzgesetz (RNG) vom 26. Juni 1935 bildet die Grundlage für alle späteren Naturschutzgesetze in Deutschland.

          • Tamino says:

            That doesn’t mean they “invented” Naturschutz.
            Yes, it was Nazi Germany, that with its centralistic political structure allowed to make centralised legislation from the top for all Germany, while before that was a matter of policies of the individual states. The Weimar constitution already had a paragraph about Naturschutz.

  • Sabine Sonnenstich says:

    This smells like a shirt storm scandal about hin is about to drop .. watch the space

  • David S says:

    He did not tie the knot with Katharina Wagner in time. That’s it.

  • Save the MET says:

    Privacy laws are keeping wagging tongues quiet in Germany at the moment, but this has nothing to do with the color of his skin, his jackboot reputation, or his erratic beat as someone proclaimed. I have it on good authority from someone who know that this has everything to do with sexual harassment claims which have yet to be brought out in public, but are known to his workplaces. Dresden and Bayreuth are two distinctly different operations run by different boards of directors. You will likely see him continue in Austria a la Domingo as they do not seem to have the same issues with this situation as other countries and they love their heroes if they think they are “musical” despite their foibles. I am guessing on this one, but I bet he starts to get Russian offers as his contracts start drying up as the issue becomes better known to the orchestras who hired him for guest gigs.

  • Alexander T says:

    Allegro molto ponderoso.
    I have yet to hear any CT performance that isn’t dull and earthbound.

  • Bone says:

    As much as I want to support the possible cause célèbre of a fellow white artist…I’ve just never been impressed with anything CT had done. Truly, I’ve tried. But nada.

  • Gustavo says:

    From now on it’s Richard Wokener.

  • Tamino says:

    It is quite remarkable, how one man can lose so much in a few years. Salzburg, Bayreuth, Dresden.
    It seems his simple problem is, that he doesn’t get along with people.

  • Gustavo says:

    “Seit seinem Bayreuth-Debüt im Sommer 2000 (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) hat er die Festspiele alljährlich durch maßstabsetzende Interpretationen geprägt, wurde 2010 Musikalischer Berater der Festspiele und IST seit März 2015 deren Musikdirektor.”