Christian Thielemann: I don’t need to be chief conductor

Christian Thielemann: I don’t need to be chief conductor


norman lebrecht

November 02, 2022

The German condcutor is being headhunted by the Chicago Symphony and Berlin’s Staatsoper.

Does he really need a job?

He tells his diary is blocked through to 2028: ‘I have things I can’t cancel. I have inquiries that I could take on… Tours are planned, including the Vienna Philharmonic. There are opera revivals and a ‘Ring’ at La Scala.”…I’m very relaxed and just have a look. By the way, I don’t have to be the boss anymore. Ever since I was 28, ever since I took office in Nuremberg, I’ve always been the boss somewhere.’





  • Mr. Ron says:

    Is he really being headhunted? Or asked as a guest conductor; a totally different thing. I don’t believe this: “I don’t have to be the boss anymore.”

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Translation from German:

    He wants either or both the Berlin and/or Chicago jobs.

  • c says:

    It sounds like he might be interested in a “Principal Guest Conductor” position like Pierre Boulez had in Chicago.

    • mary says:

      Then what?

      Keep Muti music director for life?

      Because who else would be willing to come in as the new music director if you know Theilemann is already installed monopolizing over the core Austro-Germanic repertoire?

      It might be a temporary solution to see if Thielemann can work as a music director in an American city looking for diversity…

  • Gustavo says:

    He may state not to be the boss anymore but he will remain bossy.

  • Chicagorat says:

    On the Chicago side, who’s surprised?

    Maestro Thielemann just came and saw the half empty halls; he noted that the local media and press (Hedy Weiss/WTTW, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times) in bed with the Italian Stallion, did not bother to review his concerts, unless I am mistaken and missed their articles; he heard first hand the diminished level of the orchestra; he was informed that Muti will be appointed “Music Director Emeritus for Life”; he checked his own bank accounts and saw he has enough to live more than comfortably for the rest of his life.

    In summary, he came and saw the state of …. affairs ;-).

    Thielemann is arguably the greatest conductor alive; without a doubt, one of the very best ones. He is wealthy, accomplished, sought after all over the world, and smart.

    Why would he go to Chicago?

    • SRL says:

      That the local media ignored him could be a first sign that in Chicago he is “persona non grata” because of what could be perceived as right wing political orientation?

      • Chicagorat says:

        I don’t think so. Could Thielemann be perceived as more right wing than Muti? The Italian Stallion is idolized by the Italian far right. He was appointed Music Director in Rome under the neo-fascist mayor Alemanno. Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s racist Northern League and vice PM in the new neo-fascist government, posts Muti’s controversial interviews to his own Facebook account (just Google “Salvini and Riccardo Muti” and click on the images), to take a stance against a more inclusive society.

        Muti has also given interviews which echo Trump and perpetuate the stereotype of immigrants as dishonest, here:

        Unlike Trump, he uses Latin quotations in the interviews.

    • Gustavo says:

      “…arguably the greatest conductor alive; without a doubt, one of the very best ones.”

      But no matter where he goes, people get fed up with his Prussian character – except in Vienna.

  • sammy says:

    His agent is one lucky man right now, you only get paid when there are new contracts to sign, and the more the better, not sitting on some 10-year-old contract.

    So there’s at least one person praying for a big fat American paycheck, I mean, directorship for Thielemann.

  • Olof Axler says:

    I’m sure Chicago would pay handsomely but I think he’d be much happier in Berlin to be honest, mixing.

  • Fernandel says:

    Has Thielemann been blown away by the today’s CSO ? Can’t he hear the Staatsoper Berlin poor acoustics ?

  • Mack the Knife says:

    Orchestra’s fighting over Thielemann is unnecessary. Gatti is available and was conductor or the “world’s #1 orchestra” before he was me tooed to death.

  • Antwerp Smerle says:

    As I said a while back,

    “ I think CT is wonderful, especially in the opera house. But the perennial contractual problems are a concern. Maybe he could be persuaded NOT to seek a “permanent” post, but instead undertake an ongoing sequence of guest appearances such as his Chicago Bruckner 8s and his Berlin Staatsoper Rings?”

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    I don’t think CT is all that wonderful- he has all the charisma of an SS Sturmbahn Fuhrer on the podium. No thanks very much