During his time in Chemnitz two things happened that affected Tennstedt's private as well as his professional life. The private good luck was a certain mezzo-soprano named Ingeborg Kollmann, née Fischer.

Ingeborg `Inge´ Kollmann: "Klaus came to conduct a production of Aida [by Giuseppe Verdi] in which I sang Amneris. I was sitting on a table when this young man came in. I thought, should I be respectful and stand up? I decided not to."

As Tennstedt later recounted, he thought to himself: “Who is this arrogant girl?” But as Cupid waited in the wings to fire his first arrows.

Dieter Bülter-Marell: First of all, she was a very attractive and beautiful woman. She had a deeply erotic appeal. A natural on stage, a great performer and a very lovable person.

Klaus soon found this out for himself: “I have never,” he said, “held so many extra rehearsals with a lady singer before.” That might sound like the beginning of many a romantic involvement, but this colorful love story was to last a lifetime, with extreme highs and lows.

And as so often happened in Klaus' life, misfortune was not far away. - More about this in the book.

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“I am Klaus´ unpaid full-time secretary.” (Inge Tennstedt, about 20 years later)

“On the scale of one to ten for wives, she was a twelve.” This witty compliment about Inge deserves repeating and is followed by a eulogy, intended in fact for Klaus. As John Willan, his friend and manager, declared:

“Klaus Tennstedt is the most difficult person one could ever encounter. No one knows this better than his wife, Inge. If it´s true that behind every great man there´s an even greater woman, then Inge is the proof.
Klaus said that you cannot conduct Mahler unless you´ve suffered in your life. By that definition, Inge should be the greatest Mahler conductor the world´s ever seen. She´s had to face his illnesses, his cancellations and postponements, deal with disappointed, even angry managers, record companies, soloists, agents and audiences single-handed. Above all, she´s had to steer Klaus round the terrible frustration of being prevented from conducting on so many occasions. She ought to have a medal.”

This sounds amusing, but was actually quite serious. Inge Tennstedt was the woman without whom there would have been no Klaus Tennstedt as we know him. On his own, he would have been unable to deal with life – just a leaf blowing in the wind.

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