Thielemann uncovered

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barney
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Thielemann uncovered

Post by barney » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:10 am

Christian Thielemann attracted stronger comment than other candidates for the Berlin Phil chief conductor's job in the thread earlier this year. Given that, I thought I would post this interesting link about him in Spectator magazine.
One of the things that interested me was the suggestion that the Bayreuth job ranks higher than the BPO.
http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/books- ... hielemann/

John F
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by John F » Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:04 am

The unnamed author of this book review is remarkably ignorant about the Bayreuth Festival and German musical life generally. He says of the Bayreuth post, "a position perhaps in Thielemann’s mind even more important in the German musical world than the Berlin Philharmonic." That's nonsense; until this year there has never been a music director of the Bayreuth Festival, not even Wagner himself. Thielemann's book, published three years ago, could in no way be considered his "application for the post," since it didn't exist. "Thielemann can reflect that nobody but a Wagner has ever held this position before." No he can't, because nobody has ever held the position before, not even Wagner himself, who was overall director of the festival as his descendants have been and still are.

At Bayreuth, the conductor is secondary to the stage director, and has been for a very long time; indeed, Wagner built the theater to conceal the conductor and orchestra. The music director of an orchestra is secondary to no one. At Bayreuth this year, Thielemann conducts only six performances of one opera in the space of a month; at most, when conducting the Ring cycle, he led 12 performances of four operas. Bayreuth is in no way a full-time job, and an energetic conductor can fit it into his summer vacation as full-time music director of an orchestra.
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:18 am

John F wrote:The unnamed author of this book review is remarkably ignorant about the Bayreuth Festival and German musical life generally. He says of the Bayreuth post, "a position perhaps in Thielemann’s mind even more important in the German musical world than the Berlin Philharmonic." That's nonsense; until this year there has never been a music director of the Bayreuth Festival, not even Wagner himself. Thielemann's book, published three years ago, could in no way be considered his "application for the post," since it didn't exist. "Thielemann can reflect that nobody but a Wagner has ever held this position before." No he can't, because nobody has ever held the position before, not even Wagner himself, who was overall director of the festival as his descendants have been and still are.

At Bayreuth, the conductor is secondary to the stage director, and has been for a very long time; indeed, Wagner built the theater to conceal the conductor and orchestra. The music director of an orchestra is secondary to no one. At Bayreuth this year, Thielemann conducts only six performances of one opera in the space of a month; at most, when conducting the Ring cycle, he led 12 performances of four operas. Bayreuth is in no way a full-time job, and an energetic conductor can fit it into his summer vacation as full-time music director of an orchestra.
I'm not even sure the conductor has been paid. (Presumably Thielemann will be in this position created for him, and BTW, John, I read that Furtwängler was briefly accorded that title in 1931, not that it makes much difference with regard to your point.) According to my understanding, most if not all of the musicians do Bayreuth gratis for the honor.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Heck148
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by Heck148 » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:12 am

jbuck919 wrote: According to my understanding, most if not all of the musicians do Bayreuth gratis for the honor.
I believe that both the orchestra and chorus are paid.

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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by John F » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:33 am

jbuck919 wrote:I'm not even sure the conductor has been paid. (Presumably Thielemann will be in this position created for him, and BTW, John, I read that Furtwängler was briefly accorded that title in 1931, not that it makes much difference with regard to your point.) According to my understanding, most if not all of the musicians do Bayreuth gratis for the honor.
Heck148 is right, all of Bayreuth's musicians are paid, including the conductors, but their fees are far less than they earn elsewhere and amount to little more than token payments. Toscanini was an exception, foregoing his fees because of his devotion to Wagner's music and to Siegfried Wagner. I suppose Siegfried Wagner wasn't paid fees for the performances he conducted, nearly all before World War I, but as manager of the Festival, he didn't go hungry.

Furtwängler was never given an official title at Bayreuth because there was none to give him. He conducted there only in 1931, 1936-7, and 1943-4 (operas) and in 1951 and 1954 (Beethoven's 9th symphony). If any conductor might have merited and been given the title it would probably have been Karl Muck, who conducted "Parsifal" from 1901 to 1930, but he wasn't.
Last edited by John F on Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:20 am

Heck148 wrote:
jbuck919 wrote: According to my understanding, most if not all of the musicians do Bayreuth gratis for the honor.
I believe that both the orchestra and chorus are paid.
I knew that about accepting lower fees--I just needed to have my memory jogged. :)

Here is where I got the alleged info about Furwängler, not, as I said, that it makes much difference.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/ ... -bayreuth/

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by John F » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:07 pm

Thanks for the link. With that, I found that after the death of Siegfried Wagner during the 1930 Festival, his widow named Furtwängler (who had never conducted at Bayreuth) as festival music director. Because of political infighting fomented by Heinz Tietjen, who was running the Festival for Winifred Wagner and was himself a conductor, Furtwängler resigned at the end of the 1931 festival, having lasted less than a year and having had no impact beyond his three (!) performances of "Tristan und Isolde." Not surprising, since Toscanini was also conducting there that summer, "Tannhäuser" and "Parsifal," having conducted "Tristan" the previous year.
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by slofstra » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:29 pm

John F wrote:The unnamed author of this book review is remarkably ignorant about the Bayreuth Festival and German musical life generally. He says of the Bayreuth post, "a position perhaps in Thielemann’s mind even more important in the German musical world than the Berlin Philharmonic." That's nonsense; until this year there has never been a music director of the Bayreuth Festival, not even Wagner himself. Thielemann's book, published three years ago, could in no way be considered his "application for the post," since it didn't exist. "Thielemann can reflect that nobody but a Wagner has ever held this position before." No he can't, because nobody has ever held the position before, not even Wagner himself, who was overall director of the festival as his descendants have been and still are.

At Bayreuth, the conductor is secondary to the stage director, and has been for a very long time; indeed, Wagner built the theater to conceal the conductor and orchestra. The music director of an orchestra is secondary to no one. At Bayreuth this year, Thielemann conducts only six performances of one opera in the space of a month; at most, when conducting the Ring cycle, he led 12 performances of four operas. Bayreuth is in no way a full-time job, and an energetic conductor can fit it into his summer vacation as full-time music director of an orchestra.
I think the writer is just referring to the position of director. From the following paragraph I infer that the festival was run by directors without any particular stipulation, but that Thielemann was appointed as a music director to work alongside Katharina Wagner.
Ab Herbst ist Katharina Wagner alleinige Chefin

Vorbei in Bayreuth sind unterdessen die Diskussionen über ein angebliches Hügelverbot für Eva Wagner-Pasquier (70), die zum Ende der diesjährigen Festspiele aus der Festivalleitung ausscheidet. Anfang des Monats hatte es Berichte gegeben, wonach sie aufgefordert worden sein soll, in der finalen Probenphase nicht anwesend zu sein. Eva Wagner-Pasquier sei im Festspielhaus präsent und erledige ihre Arbeit - „und das bis Ende August“, sagte Emmerich. Dann läuft ihre Amtszeit aus.

Die erfahrene Opernmanagerin und ihre Halbschwester Katharina Wagner (37) hatten 2008 die Festivalleitung übernommen. Von diesem Herbst an ist Katharina Wagner nun allein Chefin - mit Musikdirektor Christian Thielemann an ihrer Seite. ( http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/bayre ... 84234.html )
Thielemann comes across as being his own man, and merits respect for that reason alone. Also, his BPO guest appearances are generally a cut above the rest, and I hope they continue.

He is apparently also still the chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden.

John F
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by John F » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:03 pm

No, Henry, read my post beginning "Thanks for the link." Winifred Wagner inherited the official position of festival director on the death of her husband Siegfried. Incapable of managing it, she first brought in a music director, Furtwängler, and then the director of the Berlin State Opera, Heinz Tiertjen, who in effect ran the Festival until the end of the Nazi era.

As for Katharina Wagner's reason for appointing a music director, I believe she's said nothing and neither has Thielemann. Possibly it's a sign of Katharina Wagner's weaknesses, as with the precedent I've described. It coincides with the resignation of the Festival's co-director, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, an experienced administrator especially in casting singers. Maybe Katharina is incapable of going it alone, and knows it.
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by slofstra » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:35 pm

John F wrote:No, Henry, read my post beginning "Thanks for the link." Winifred Wagner inherited the official position of festival director on the death of her husband Siegfried. Incapable of managing it, she first brought in a music director, Furtwängler, and then the director of the Berlin State Opera, Heinz Tiertjen, who in effect ran the Festival until the end of the Nazi era.

As for Katharina Wagner's reason for appointing a music director, I believe she's said nothing and neither has Thielemann. Possibly it's a sign of Katharina Wagner's weaknesses, as with the precedent I've described. It coincides with the resignation of the Festival's co-director, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, an experienced administrator especially in casting singers. Maybe Katharina is incapable of going it alone, and knows it.
I'm trying to understand your objection to the original column. Is it that you consider the appointment to the Music Director post essentially a minor one? And so the columnist is being hyperbolic, conjectural and extravagant with statements like "a position perhaps in Thielemann’s mind even more important in the German musical world than the Berlin Philharmonic" and "nobody but a Wagner has ever held this position before".

If so, I understand the objection.

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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by John F » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:11 am

It was somewhat confused by the issue of whether there had ever before been a music director of the Bayreuth Festival. I didn't think so and neither did the book reviewer, but it turned out that Furtwängler had been named to such a position in 1930 and resigned within a year after conducting all of three performances. Not an impressive precedent.

That aside, I object to this speculation by the book reviewer:
This book, which was first published in Germany in 2012, is effectively an application for that post — a position perhaps in Thielemann’s mind even more important in the German musical world than the Berlin Philharmonic.
A position which didn't exist when the book was published, without which the Bayreuth Festival has flourished for more than a century, and which at Bayreuth has nearly always been subservient to the stage director since Wagner's days. It can't possibly have been considered by any serious and sane musician to be more important than leading the Berlin Philharmonic, and whatever Thielemann is, he isn't crazy.
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Re: Thielemann uncovered

Post by slofstra » Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:33 am

John F wrote:It was somewhat confused by the issue of whether there had ever before been a music director of the Bayreuth Festival. I didn't think so and neither did the book reviewer, but it turned out that Furtwängler had been named to such a position in 1930 and resigned within a year after conducting all of three performances. Not an impressive precedent.

That aside, I object to this speculation by the book reviewer:
This book, which was first published in Germany in 2012, is effectively an application for that post — a position perhaps in Thielemann’s mind even more important in the German musical world than the Berlin Philharmonic.
A position which didn't exist when the book was published, without which the Bayreuth Festival has flourished for more than a century, and which at Bayreuth has nearly always been subservient to the stage director since Wagner's days. It can't possibly have been considered by any serious and sane musician to be more important than leading the Berlin Philharmonic, and whatever Thielemann is, he isn't crazy.
Ah, with the added perspective of the situation as it was three years ago, the statement does make little sense. Thanks for bearing with me.

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