Christian Thielemann was born in Berlin, Germany, on April 1, 1959. He studied piano, harpsichord, and viola in his youth and later enrolled in the Karajan Academy. He played viola in the German Youth Orchestra and became an assistant to Karajan
at 19. Thielemann debuted with the Berlin Philharmonic
as a harpsichordist in 1980.
In 1985 Thielemann was appointed principal conductor of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf. Three years later he became general music director at the Nuremberg Opera. His U.S. debut came at the San Francisco Opera in 1991, conducting Strauss
Thielemann was appointed principal guest conductor of the Teatro Comunale of Bologna in 1993. In 1997 Thielemann accepted the post of general music director at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. He debuted at the 2000 Bayreuth Festival in Wagner
's Die Meistersinger. Meanwhile, conflicts with management at the Deutsche Oper were brewing, and Thielemann departed in 2004, three years sooner than expected.
From 2004 he began serving as music director of the Munich Philharmonic
, with a contract running through 2011. In 2008 Thielemann was named chief musical advisor at Bayreuth, becoming in all but name the festival director. With Thielemann's 2012 appointment as music director of the Saxon State Opera and its sibling ensemble, the Dresden State Orchestra, he has clearly emerged as one of the foremost German conductors of his generation. Among his later recordings are a pair of Opus Arte
DVDs, from 2010, of Wagner
's Die Walküre and Das Rheingold, both taken from live 2008 Bayreuth Festival performances.