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Christian Thielemann, who was born in 1959, studied viola, piano, and conducting in his native Berlin. He launched his professional career in 1978 as a co-répétiteur at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin; a year later he was engaged by Herbert von Karajan to serve as his assistant. In 1985 Thielemann became First Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, from 1988 to 1992 he was at the Theater Nürnberg, and from 1997 to 2004 he served as General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. He gave up this position to take over leadership of the Munich Philharmonic, where he remained until the summer of 2011. Since 2012 Thielemann has served as Principal Conductor of the Saxon Staatskapelle Dresden, and in 2013 he additionally became Artistic Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival, where he conducted Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci in the spring of 2015. Through his performances of Wagner and Strauss Thielemann has developed a reputation as a specialist in German music of the late Romantic period. His repertoire also encompasses works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schumann, as well as compositions by Debussy, Schoenberg, and Henze. Every summer since 2000 he has made regular appearances at the Bayreuth Festival, where he just conducted Tristan und Isolde this summer; in 2015 he was named Music Director there. In the concert hall, Thielemann has collaborated with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Israel Philharmonic, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. In the United States he has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his numerous CD and DVD recordings, in 2013 Thielemann published the book Mein Leben mit Wagner. In 2015 he received the Richard Wagner Award.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 23 March 2002 leading the Munich Philharmonic in works by Debussy, Chausson, and Ravel.