In 2008, the Staatskapelle Dresden celebrated its 460th jubilee. Founded by Prince Elector
Moritz von Sachsen in 1548, it is one of the oldest orchestras in the world and is steeped
in tradition. Over its long history, many distinguished conductors and internationally
celebrated instrumentalists have left their mark on this one-time court orchestra.
Previous directors include Heinrich Schütz, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Maria von Weber, and
Richard Wagner, who called the ensemble his "miraculous harp." The list of the orchestra's
prominent conductors of the last 100 years includes Ernst von Schuch, Fritz Reiner, Fritz
Busch, Karl Böhm, Joseph Keilberth, Rudolf Kempe, Otmar Suitner, Kurt Sanderling, Herbert
Blomstedt, and Giuseppe Sinopoli. The orchestra was directed by Bernard Haitink from 2002
to 2004 and most recently by Fabio Luisi from 2007 to 2010. Christian Thielemann took up
the post of principal conductor of the Staatskapelle in the 2012-2013 season. Sir Colin
Davis has been the orchestra's conductor laureate since 1990. The current season also sees
the introduction of the new position of principal guest conductor, the first holder of
which will be Myung-Whun Chung.
Richard Strauss and the Staatskapelle were closely linked for more than 60 years. Nine of
the composer's operas were premiered in Dresden, including Salome,
Elektra, and Der Rosenkavalier, and Strauss's
Eine Alpensinfonie was dedicated to the orchestra.
Countless other famous composers have written works either dedicated to the orchestra or
first performed in Dresden. In 2007, the Staatskapelle reaffirmed this tradition by
introducing the annual position of Capell-Compositeur, successively held by composers
Isabel Mundry, Bernhard Lang, Rebecca Saunders, Johannes Maria Staud, and Lera Auerbach.
The Capell-Compositeur for the 2012-2013 season is Hans Werner Henze.
The Staatskapelle's home is the Semperoper, where it performs approximately 260 operas and
ballets each season. In addition, the ensemble presents another 50 symphonic and chamber
concerts in the opera house, as well as playing at various musical events in Dresden's
Frauenkirche. As one of the world's most celebrated and popular symphony orchestras, the
Staatskapelle regularly travels abroad to the world's leading classical venues.
The Staatskapelle also does valuable work to support the local region: Since October 2008,
it has been the patron orchestra of Meetingpoint Music Messiaen in the double city of
Görlitz-Zgorzelec. In September 2010, the orchestra helped found the International
Shostakovich Festival in Gohrisch (Saxon Switzerland), which is the only such annual event
dedicated to the music and life of Shostakovich.
At a ceremony in Brussels in 2007, the Staatskapelle became the first-and so far only-
orchestra to be awarded the European Prize for the Preservation of the World's Musical
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 Berlin. Following
positions in Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe, and Hanover, he joined the conducting staff of the
Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf in 1985. Three years later, he moved to Nuremberg to
become Germany's youngest music director, then returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin in
1997, holding the position of music director there for seven years. Mr. Thielemann
conducted the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra from 2004 to 2011. In the summer of 2012, he
took up the baton as principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden.
Mr. 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 around the world as exemplary. Since his Bayreuth debut in the summer of 2000 (in
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), his annual appearances have set new standards in
conducting. He has been musical advisor to the Bayreuth Festival since 2010. At the
Salzburg Festival of 2011, Mr. Thielemann directed a new, highly acclaimed production of
Die Frau ohne Schatten.
Mr. Thielemann's discography with Deutsche Grammophon encompasses numerous symphonic works
and operas. Together with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, he has recorded a complete
cycle of Beethoven's symphonies, released both on CD and DVD. To date, his recordings with
the Staatskapelle include Bruckner's Eighth Symphony, Beethoven's Missa solemnis,
the ZDF New Year's Eve Concerts of 2010 and 2011, Faust-related compositions by Wagner and
Liszt, and Brahms's First Piano Concerto with Maurizio Pollini.
Beginning in 2013, Mr. Thielemann will assume the position of artistic director of the
Salzburg Easter Festival, and the Staatskapelle Dresden will become the festival
Made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2011, Mr. Thielemann has
also been awarded honorary doctorates by the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar and
the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium).