Simon Rattle

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Sir Simon Rattle conducts Wagner's Rheingold in the Berlin Philharmonic (2006)

Sir Simon Denis Rattle , OM , CBE (born January 19, 1955 in Liverpool ) is a British conductor , was chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 2002 to 2018 and has been chief of the London Symphony Orchestra since 2017 .


Simon Rattle began in 1971 at the age of 16 years at the Royal Academy of Music , piano , percussion and orchestral conducting ( Bachelor study, graduating in 1974) successfully. In the same year he won first prize in the John Player International Conducting Competition. He was then assistant conductor for three years for the two orchestras Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Bournemouth Sinfonietta - the post was the main prize of the competition in Bournemouth, southern England . In parallel he finished his already begun Master - studies in percussion and orchestral conducting.

From 1977 to 1980 Rattle was chief assistant of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra . In 1980 he became principal conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra . From 1990 to 1998 Rattle was chief conductor. Under his direction the orchestra developed into an ensemble of international standing. He toured with the orchestra through Central Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and North America. From 1981 to 1994 Rattle was also a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

On June 23, 1999, the Berliner Philharmoniker elected Rattle as their new chief conductor and artistic director, after Claudio Abbado announced his retirement at the end of the 2001/2002 season. On September 7, 2002, Rattle gave his debut concert as chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker with Thomas Adès ' Asyla and Gustav Mahler's 5th Symphony . On January 10, 2013, Rattle announced that he would be giving up the post of Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker for reasons of age when his contract expired in 2018. In September 2017, Rattle took up his new position as chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra . In August 2019, Kirill Petrenko gave his debut concert as the new chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Rattle spoke alternately in German and English with the Berliner Philharmoniker. An orchestra member reported in 2016 when Rattle had directed the orchestra for 14 years: “He has often promised that he would start speaking German after the next summer break. In fact, when rehearsing he always starts in German, but then quickly falls back into English when he wants to explain a detail. It's beautiful English, but I often think that it would be better if he could speak German fluently [...] Maybe he's too busy to cram vocabulary. ”In 2007, after five years with the Berliner Philharmoniker, was Rattle was asked about his knowledge of German by Kai Luehrs-Kaiser in an interview. Rattle replied ironically and in German: “Quite perfect. Like Thomas Mann . ”In English he added:“ I think I've read almost everything by Thomas Mann. As a late teenager and in my early twenties, that was one of the most important things. ”For many years, the rumor circulated afterwards that Rattle had read all of Thomas Mann's novels in German. When asked about it in 2016, he made it clear: “Yes, but not in German.” The rumor may have been based on the fact that Rattle's irony had not been understood.

Rattle married the American soprano Elise Ross in 1980, with whom he has two sons. In 1995 he divorced and married the Boston writer Candace Allen . This marriage also ended after Rattle met the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená , with whom he became involved in 2004 and with whom he married in 2008. They have two sons and a daughter. Kožená and Rattle live in Berlin.


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Just Listen (with Nigel Kennedy & London Philharmonic Orchestra )
  UK 56 02/22/1992 (1 week)
Elgar / Violin Concerto (with Nigel Kennedy & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra )
  UK 95 11/22/1997 (2 weeks)
Carmina Burana New Year's Eve Concert (with Berliner Philharmoniker )
  DE 34 01/24/2005 (4 weeks)
Perfume - The Story of a Murderer (with Berliner Philharmoniker)
  DE 74 09/29/2006 (4 weeks)
  AT 66 09/29/2006 (3 weeks)
New Year's Eve Concert 2007 (with the Berliner Philharmoniker)
  DE 93 01/25/2008 (1 week)
Elgar (with Sheku Kanneh-Mason & London Philharmonic Orchestra)
  UK 8th 01/23/2020 (3 weeks)
Chariots Of Fire (with London Philharmonic Orchestra)
  UK 51 08/11/2012 (2 weeks)

In 1977 Rattle was the youngest conductor at the renowned opera festival in Glyndebourne , England , where he conducted George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in 1986 . Numerous world premieres of contemporary works are due to Simon Rattle as well as his sporadic occupation with orchestras that use historical instruments.

In 1987, for example, he realized Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera Idomeneo in London with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment , which was followed by Le nozze di Figaro in 1989 .

Simon Rattle was also a frequent guest at the Salzburg Festival , where he played with Cecilia Bartoli and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in 1999 .

Two years earlier, he had toured South America for the first time with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra .

His concert project Towards the Millennium with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra ended in March 2000 with concerts in Birmingham , London , Frankfurt am Main , Baden-Baden and Vienna .

As the conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle realized the film music for the Süskind adaptation Parfum - The Story of a Murderer (2006). In addition, Rattle played with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra the soundtrack of the Scot Patrick Doyle to Kenneth Branagh's debut film Henry V. a.

Rattle conducted the London Symphony Orchestra during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London . Among other things, the theme from the film The Hour of the Winner (Chariots of Fire) was played.

Rattle directed performances of Parsifal (2005), Tristan und Isolde (2009) and Der Ring des Nibelungen (2015) at the Vienna State Opera .

In autumn 2016 Rattle conducted a new production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Projects in Berlin

Sir Simon Rattle at an orchestral rehearsal in the Berlin Philharmonie (2007)

Right at the beginning of his first season in 2002/2003, Rattle launched the “education program” Zukunft @ Bphil . In January 2003 he realized the fourth project in the program, which was supported by the documentary Rhythm Is It! achieved great fame. 250 Berlin children and young people from 25 nations studied a dance project with the choreographer Royston Maldoom to the music of Stravinsky's Sacre du Printemps . Accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic, the performance took place in the Arena Berlin . The creation and implementation of this project is documented in the film Rhythm Is It! by Thomas Grube and Enrique Sánchez Lansch, who was shown at the Berlinale and was awarded the Bavarian Film Prize and the German Film Prize.

As part of his commitment to young musicians, Rattle conducts a youth orchestra with Berlin students once a year. In addition, in 2008 he conducted a rehearsal for the Federal Youth Orchestra .

Other projects in the program were Stravinsky's Der Feuervogel (2005), Ravel's Daphnis & Chloé and Orff's Carmina Burana (2006) - the latter two in collaboration with the Rundfunkchor Berlin and Simon Halsey .


His more than 60 recordings include numerous works from the established concert program, such as all of Ludwig van Beethoven's symphonies and piano concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic . His recordings of the 8th symphony (this with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), the 5th symphony and the draft of Gustav Mahler's 10th symphony (the latter in 1980 with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and again in 1999 with the Berliner Philharmonic ).

For more than 25 years it has been a concern of Rattle to present Deryck Cooke's performance version of the unfinished 10th Symphony by Gustav Mahler to the audience. Rattle also campaigned successfully for the works of Karol Szymanowski . He is also - like his teacher John Carewe  - an excellent conductor of the Haydn works.

honors and awards

Rattle also received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Birmingham , Leeds , Liverpool and Oxford . The Berliner Philharmoniker and its Artistic Director Sir Simon Rattle were named International UNICEF Ambassadors on November 17, 2007 . The orchestra is the first institution to bear this title.


  • Nicolas Kenyon: Simon Rattle. Adventure of music. Translated from English by Maurus Pacher. Henschel, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-89487-437-6 . Extended edition: Henschel, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-89487-552-7 .
  • Annemarie Kleinert: Berliner Philharmoniker from Karajan to Rattle . Jaron, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-89773-131-2 , pp. 1–189 ( ).
  • Angela Hartwig: Rattle at the door. Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic 2002 to 2008. Evrei-Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-00-028093-1 .

Web links

Commons : Simon Rattle  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Sir Simon Rattle on his own upbringing ( memento of September 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), at:
  2. Wolfgang Schreiber: Great conductors . Piper, Munich 2005
  3. a b Rattle . In: Brockhaus: Music. Mannheim / Leipzig 2006.
  4. Simon Rattle announces withdrawal . In: Spiegel Online , January 10, 2013
  5. ^ Sir Simon Rattle appointed Music Director . Announcement on the London Symphony Orchestra website, March 3, 2015
  6. This Is Rattle . Inaugural concert at the LSO on September 14, 2017
  7. Peter Brem: First violin for a lifetime. My time with the Berlin Philharmonic. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg, 2016.
  8. Sir Simon Rattle in an interview: “Orchestras move slowly like tectonic plates”, June 29, 2007.
  9. "It's the toughest job" Interview with Simon Rattle,, March 11, 2016.
  10. Simon Rattle's Farewell: Sixteen Years of Sheep Cold, June 27, 2018.
  11. a b Chart sources: DE AT UK1 UK2 UK3 UK4
  12. Simon Rattle's appearances at the Vienna State Opera
  13. Tristan and Isolde . Metropolitan Opera. Archived from the original on August 20, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  14. The latest news about Rhythm is it! ( Memento of September 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), at:
  15. ^ Nicolas Kenyon: Simon Rattle. Adventure of music. Henschel Verlag, Berlin 2002
  16. Prize winners 2013 . ( Memento from June 17, 2014 in the Internet Archive ); Retrieved October 6, 2013
  17. Awarded the Berlin State Order. In: Press and Information Office of the State of Berlin, September 27, 2018, accessed on September 28, 2018 .
  18. Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle become international UNICEF ambassadors . ( Memento of December 15, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) UNICEF , November 17, 2007