Sir Simon RattleChief conductor 2002–2018
Sir Simon Rattle took up the post of chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2002, 15 years after making his debut with the orchestra. He continued the orchestra’s tradition of balancing tradition and innovation until 2018, setting significant personal impulses in the process.
A distinguished conductor of Mahler and the composers of the Second Viennese School like his predecessor Claudio Abbado, Rattle honed the latter’s chamber-music sound ideal – not only in symphony concerts but also in the series of intimate [Late Night] programmes he introduced. Sir Simon also cultivated the core repertoire of the Karajan era with highly acclaimed performances of great works of the Classical and Romantic periods. In addition, he continued the Berliner Philharmoniker’s music theatre tradition with the Easter Festival in Salzburg and, since 2013, in Baden-Baden. At the same time, the name Rattle is associated with major innovations: for example, the Liverpool-born artist expanded the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Anglo-American repertoire with works by Britten, Elgar, Bernstein and Gershwin. Furthermore, Rattle brought his knowledge of historical performance practice to bear in highly acclaimed performances of Haydn’s symphonies and Bach’s Passion music. And finally, the Berliner Philharmoniker under Rattle became increasingly committed to more recent and cutting-edge music. In addition to his artistic work, classical music outreach work was a central concern of Simon Rattle, which is why he initiated a Philharmoniker education programme when he took office, which among other things caused a worldwide sensation with the cinema film [Rhythm Is It!]. In 1971, Simon Rattle won the John Player International Conducting Competition; engagements in England and the USA followed. He rose to international fame as conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1980 to 1998. In 1994, Simon Rattle was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. In addition to numerous other awards, he received the German Cross of Merit 1st Class in 2009.