‘My Life with Wagner: Fairies, Rings, and Redemption: Exploring Opera’s Most Enigmatic Composer’ by Christian Thielemann

Publsihed by Pegasus Books in 2016.

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

Over the course of a distinguished career conducting some of the world’s finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has emerged 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 around the world—from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg and Chicago—and combines analysis with revealing insights drawn from Thielemann’s many years of experience as a Wagner conductor.

Thielemann takes on each of Wagner’s opera 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. A richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.


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.

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