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My Life with Wagner: Fairies, Rings, and Redemption: Exploring Opera's Most Enigmatic Composer

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Over a distinguished career conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has earned a reputation as the leading modern interpreter of Richard Wagner. My Life with Wagner chronicles his ardent personal and professional engagement with the great composer, whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his jou Over a distinguished career conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has earned a reputation as the leading modern interpreter of Richard Wagner. My Life with Wagner chronicles his ardent personal and professional engagement with the great composer, whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his journey around the world with Wagner—from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg, and Chicago—and combines his analysis with revealing insights drawn from his many years of experience as a Wagner conductor. Thielemann discusses each of Wagner's operas 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.My Life with Wagner is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.


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Over a distinguished career conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has earned a reputation as the leading modern interpreter of Richard Wagner. My Life with Wagner chronicles his ardent personal and professional engagement with the great composer, whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his jou Over a distinguished career conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has earned a reputation as the leading modern interpreter of Richard Wagner. My Life with Wagner chronicles his ardent personal and professional engagement with the great composer, whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his journey around the world with Wagner—from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg, and Chicago—and combines his analysis with revealing insights drawn from his many years of experience as a Wagner conductor. Thielemann discusses each of Wagner's operas 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.My Life with Wagner is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.

30 review for My Life with Wagner: Fairies, Rings, and Redemption: Exploring Opera's Most Enigmatic Composer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hind

    I wasn’t supposed to read this book. The author appears to have written this for musicians who understand his language, and are at least moderately familiar with Wagner. I fall in neither category. I needed an introduction, not an analysis. This is not to say that I didn’t find this interesting, but most of it flew over my head.

  2. 4 out of 5

    J Earl

    My Life with Wagner is primarily a memoir of Christian Thielemann, the renowned conductor, but is also a biography of the composer Richard Wagner. The first part is largely about Thielemann and Wagner in broad musical terms. It is here we learn about what contributions Wagner made as well as how his music helped shape Thielemann's life, particularly his professional life. It is also where he engages with Wagner's more problematic areas, such as anti-Semitism. The latter portion of the book is de My Life with Wagner is primarily a memoir of Christian Thielemann, the renowned conductor, but is also a biography of the composer Richard Wagner. The first part is largely about Thielemann and Wagner in broad musical terms. It is here we learn about what contributions Wagner made as well as how his music helped shape Thielemann's life, particularly his professional life. It is also where he engages with Wagner's more problematic areas, such as anti-Semitism. The latter portion of the book is devoted to Wagner's works and is a wonderful resource for the beginner and the seasoned Wagnerian alike. Each is discussed with respect to origin, cast and orchestration, plot, music and recordings. These overviews are not simply an outline but is illuminated by Thielemann's experiences and knowledge. The recordings sections are particularly helpful because they offer suggestions on which recordings best display Wagner at his best. I am not a beginner nor an expert in Wagner's music but am far closer to beginner of the two. As such, this book was a wealth of both factual information as well as advice on appreciating not just Wagner but any type of music. I listened to some selections when I was reading and found that I truly enjoyed it more than I had previously. While this will certainly be a wonderful library addition for anyone interested in Wagner, I would also highly recommend it to someone just approaching Wagner. The passion Thielemann feels for the music is contagious and helps to make this a fun read in addition to being a great resource. Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads First Reads.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Curie

    Richard Wagner is a legend amongst classical composers, there's no point in even arguing about that. Changing the landscape of opera and musical understanding for generations to come, there are still people dedicating their lives to his legacy – one of them the inarguably outstanding composer Christian Thielemann. My Life with Wagner is a love story. Today, we know Thielemann as the leading contemporary interpreter of Wagner's work and in this book he unravels his journey to becoming the composer Richard Wagner is a legend amongst classical composers, there's no point in even arguing about that. Changing the landscape of opera and musical understanding for generations to come, there are still people dedicating their lives to his legacy – one of them the inarguably outstanding composer Christian Thielemann. My Life with Wagner is a love story. Today, we know Thielemann as the leading contemporary interpreter of Wagner's work and in this book he unravels his journey to becoming the composer he is today. His enthusiasm is engaging and entertaining as he first talks about his own journey and later goes on introducing the reader to Wagner's cosmos and his operas in detail. It's a book for people that like operas, but feel intimidated by Wagner. Thielemann casually uses terms part of the opera / classical music vocabulary, which might lead to confusion if you're not familiar with the genre whatsoever. Then again, if your knowledge on Wagner is already well-established, the third big chapter about Wagner's operas, retelling their plots and stories of origins, might feel redundant. I would definitely consider myself a Wagner enthusiast, which is why I liked this read particularly for its little anecdotes, such as Thielemann recounting what it was like to work with Wolfgang Wagner or what working in Bayreuth is like. An easy, quick and enjoyable read which I don't regret, yet didn't gather an enormous amount from, either.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lorens

    A quite personal book about Wagner and his music. Easy to read, interesting perspectives from a well known Wagner conductor.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    One of our generation's foremost interpreters of Wagner's music share his experiences leading these operas. A lot of inside information about the unique properties of the Festival Theater in Bayreuth. Highly recommended. One of our generation's foremost interpreters of Wagner's music share his experiences leading these operas. A lot of inside information about the unique properties of the Festival Theater in Bayreuth. Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James

    For anyone who is even vaguely a fan of Wagner's operas. Wonderful insights from the inside of the Green Hill and one of today's most prominent Wagner conductors. For anyone who is even vaguely a fan of Wagner's operas. Wonderful insights from the inside of the Green Hill and one of today's most prominent Wagner conductors.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Balder Dendievel

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  9. 4 out of 5

    Urob

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erlingur

  11. 4 out of 5

    PLEsch

  12. 4 out of 5

    Martin

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vicki L.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

  16. 5 out of 5

    N. N. Santiago

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jorge Figueroba Sánchez

  19. 4 out of 5

    Libby Longmuir

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill Colburn

  21. 5 out of 5

    07585832795

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karim Zahidi

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tay Cher

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Efrem Zimbalist

  26. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Tets

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mario Van Assche

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nina

  29. 5 out of 5

    J.Z. Herrenberg

  30. 4 out of 5

    Richard

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