Sir Simon Rattle
Chief conductor of Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Compelling charisma, a love of experimentation, a commitment to contemporary music, great social and pedagogical engagement, and unreserved artistic seriousness – all this makes Liverpool-born Simon Rattle one of the most fascinating conducting personalities of our time.
From the 2023/2024 season, Sir Simon Rattle is the new chief conductor of the Chor and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Simon Rattle gained his international reputation during his time with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (1980-1998), which he led to world fame. From 2002 to 2018 he was principal conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and from 2017 to 2023 music director of the London Symphony Orchestra. As Conductor Emeritus, the 68-year-old Briton with a German passport will remain associated with the LSO. He also works closely with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, of which Simon Rattle is Principal Artist.
Simon Rattle regularly tours extensively throughout Europe and Asia and maintains long-standing relationships with leading orchestras worldwide, including the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berliner Staatskapelle, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the Czech Philharmonic. He is a sought-after guest at major opera houses, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Berlin and Vienna State Operas, New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, where he most recently appeared with the LSO in a new production of Berg’s Wozzeck.
During his time as principal conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Simon Rattle made regular guest appearances at the Salzburg Easter Festival, in Baden-Baden and also in Aix-en-Provence.
The conductor has received the highest honours for his more than 70 recordings to date. His commitment to the Berliner Philharmoniker’s education programme Zukunft@BPhil, for which he has also received several awards, is also worthy of mention. In London, he founded the LSO East London Academy in 2019, a collaboration between the LSO and ten boroughs in the east of the city to promote exceptional musical talent regardless of social background.
Together with the BRSO, Richard Wagner’s Rhine Gold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, Mahler’s The Song of the Earth and Ninth Symphony, and the musica viva portrait CD with works by Ondřej Adámek have been released on CD to date. The Ninth Symphony was awarded a Diapason d’or, a Supersonic Pizzicato and as Gramophone Editor’s Choice.
Podcast with Sir Simon Rattle
Get to know the new principal conductor of the BRSO! Sir Simon Rattle is a guest on our orchestra podcast. Talking to Anne SCHOENHOLTZ, he reveals where his love for the BRSO comes from, what excites him about Munich, and what ideas and visions he plans to pursue in the coming years. This episode is also available in English!
Sir Simon Rattle conducts Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9
First encounter with the symphony orchestra 50 years ago
In October 1970, the teenage Simon Rattle experienced Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in his home town of Liverpool, performed by the BRSO under the leadership of Rafael Kubelík while on tour in England.
“Attending this concert changed my life. Already a Kubelík fan, I was aware of the BRSO through many recordings I had bought. But the orchestra’s visit to Liverpool made a profound impression on a teenager who wished to be a conductor – to experience such a symbiotic relationship between conductor and players, and the unanimity of concept and philosophy was as evident as the sheer pleasure the musicians emanated. This concert became a kind of benchmark for me, a goal towards which musicians should strive.
When in 2010, nearly 40 years later, I found myself standing in front of this orchestra for the first time, playing my beloved Schumann, I felt exactly the same spirit, even though only a couple of players had remained from that time. Kubelík had somehow set the tone, the atmosphere of flexible, refined and loving music making – qualities that have only been amplified by the great conductors who came in between, culminating in my much missed friend Mariss.
When I look forward to collaborating with this great orchestra and their astonishing chorus, I would therefore like to pay tribute to all the extraordinary musicians who came before and who created such artistic warmth and ’Menschlichkeit’. The people change, but the ethos remains.
Building on wonderful moments of music-making together over the last ten years, we will explore a wide range of wonderful music together and craft programs across many genres – both for our live-audiences and for viewers and listeners of the BR’s media channels. Our ambitions include the development of the orchestra’s creativity with period performance practice, as well as building closer connections with the Musica Viva series in the city.”
Shared challenges: Social participation at the new concert hall
Sir Simon and the BRSO are looking forward not just to their artistic work together, but also to further challenges. They want to provide access to music for as many people as possible in Bavaria – especially for those whose access may be limited by their backgrounds or social environments. This aim is shared by Bavaria’s Konzerthaus project in Munich, where the priority is to build a hall with first-class acoustics, and to create a suitable infrastructure for music education and education projects. The broad accessibility of these projects is essential both to Sir Simon and to the BRSO.
“As part of my new role, I will advocate for the new Konzerthaus in Munich, offering all my support to the Bavarian State to make this project a reality. This facility will provide the BRSO with the working environment that they deserve, as well as a destination for musicians from Munich, Bavaria and beyond. In the meantime, we will continue to extend the orchestra’s education work in the Werksviertel Mitte, where the hall will be built, as well as in many other communities around Bavaria.”