Christian Thielemann was born in Berlin in 1959 and began what Karajan called the classical conductor's "hard but indispensable slog" through numerous small theatres at an early age. After achieving great success with Wagner's Lohengrin at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Thielemann made his US debut with a new production of Strauss's Elektra in San Francisco in the 1992-3 season. This was followed by engagements at the Metropolitan, including Strauss's Rosenkavalier and Arabella with Kiri Te Kanawa.
After 20 years of operatic experience and engagements at all the major Italian opera houses, Thielemann was named principal guest conductor of the Teatro Comunale of Bologna in 1993 and started concentrating on a few selected orchestras and opera houses, such as Covent Garden in London, the Metropolitan in New York and the Vienna State Opera. In 1997, he returned to his hometown of Berlin as the general music director of the Deutsche Oper. His Bayreuth Festival debut came in 2000 and he has returned every year since to thrill audiences with benchmark interpretations. Thielemann received Germany's Order of Merit of (Bundesverdienstkreuz) in 2003 and the following year became the general music director of the Munich Philharmonic. He has been the artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival and the principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden since 2013 and was Bayreuth's Music Director from 2015 to 2020.
Much in demand as a versatile concert conductor, he has collaborated with the world's leading orchestras in Amsterdam, London, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, and has also performed in Israel, Japan and China. Thielemann has contributed to the birthday celebrations for Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss with numerous Staatskapelle concerts in the Semperoper and on tour. His programmes have also featured a wide range of music from Bach to Henze, Rihm and Gubaidulina. He conducted new productions of Manon Lescaut, Simon Boccanegra, Elektra and Der Freischütz in Dresden, as well as Parsifal, Arabella, Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci, Otello and Die Walküre in Salzburg.
Thielemann is an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London and holds honorary doctorates from the Franz Liszt College of Music in Weimar, Germany and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.