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.
In January 2021, the British conductor signed his contract with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks: as of the 2023/2024 season, he will succeed Mariss Jansons as 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, a collaboration that resulted in numerous CD recordings as well as world premieres of works by Adès, Berio, Gubaidulina, Boulez, Grisey, Lindberg and Turnage, among others. Simon Rattle is principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) until July 2023. He is also closely associated with the Vienna Philharmonic, with whom he has recorded all of Beethoven’s symphonies and piano concertos (with Alfred Brendel), and as Principal Artist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Simon Rattle is a sought-after guest at all the major opera houses: the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Berlin State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, where he conducted Wagner’s Ring tetralogy in 2015, and New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where he conducted Tristan und Isolde and Der Rosenkavalier, among others. At the Salzburg Festival, Simon Rattle directed the Berliner Philharmoniker in concert performances of Fidelio, Così fan tutte, Peter Grimes, Pelléas et Mélisande, Salome and Carmen.
He also performed Wagner’s Ring with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and at the Salzburg Easter Festival, as well as Bach’s St. John Passion, Der Rosenkavalier, La damnation de Faust, Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden. Most recently, Simon Rattle celebrated great success with Jenůfa at the Berlin State Opera and with Tristan und Isolde with the LSO in Aix-en-Provence. The conductor has received the highest honors for his more than 70 recordings. His commitment to the Berliner Philharmoniker’s education programme Zukunft@BPhil, for which he has also received several awards, is also worthy of mention. With the BRSO, Simon Rattle has performed Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri, Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten, Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and the ninth symphony, among others. Wagner’s Rheingold and Walküre as well as Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and the ninth symphony have been released on CD to date; the latter received the Diapason d’Or award in January 2023.
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
Videos with Sir Simon Rattle
All concert videos and other video content of the BRSO with Sir Simon Rattle can be found in our media library.
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.”