Born in Berlin, Christian Thielemann comes from a family of music-lovers. He began his professional career in 1978 as a rehearsal pianist at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. Following positions in Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe and Hanover he joined the conducting staff at the Rhine Opera in Dusseldorf in 1985. Three years later he became Germany’s youngest music director in Nuremberg, before returning to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin in 1997, holding the position of music director there for seven years. Thielemann was chief-conductor and musical director of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra from 2004 to 2011. Since summer 2012 he has taken up the baton in Dresden as principal conductor to the Staatskapelle.
Christian Thielemann’s repertoire is extensive, ranging from Bach to Henze and Gubaidulina. His interpretations of German romantic music, both in opera and on the concert stage, are regarded as exemplary around the world. He made his Bayreuth debut in 2000 (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). Since then his annual appearances have set new standards in conducting. Since 2010 he has been musical consultant to the Bayreuth Festival and 2015 he was appointed the Festival's Musical Director. At the Salzburg Festival of 2011 Thielemann conducted a new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten by Richard Strauss.
His lengthy discography with Deutsche Grammophon encompasses numerous symphonic works and operas. Together with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra he recorded a complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, also released on DVD in autumn 2010. So far his releases with the Staatskapelle are including Bruckner’s 8th Symphony, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, the live recordings of the ZDF New Year’s Eve Concerts 2010-2013, the Faust-composition by Wagner and Liszt, the violin concerto of Brahms with Lisa Batiashvili and the piano concertos of Brahms with pianist Maurizio Pollini.
2013, Christian Thielemann takes over the position as artistic director of the Osterfestspiele Salzburg together with the Staatskapelle Dresden, which becomes the festival orchestra.
In October 2011, Christian Thielemann received Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London. In the same month, he was awarded with an honorary doctorate of the Liszt School of Music Weimar and the Catholic University in Leuven (Belgium).