Sir SIMON RATTLE was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Between 1980 and 1998, Rattle was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, then Music Director. He toured and recorded extensively with them and also conducted leading orchestras in the USA and Europe, enjoying a close collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for many years and in more recent seasons, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is a regular guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic, with which he has recorded the complete Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos (with Alfred Brendel) and is also a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Founding Patron of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Following his 1977 Glyndebourne Festival Opera debut, he conducted many productions there, and a series for NetherlandsOpera. Other notable debuts included English National Opera (1985), his U.S. opera debut in Los Angeles (1988), Royal Opera House (1990), and Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris (1996).
Simon Rattle enjoyed a 15-year collaboration with the Berliner Philharmoniker prior to becoming its Chief Conductor and Music Director in September 2002. As well as fulfilling a taxing concert schedule in Berlin, the partnership tours extensively, and has garnered many awards for its recordings and pioneering educational work. Concert programs cover a broad spectrum, from Bach and Rameau to figures such as Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, and Brahms, to contemporary composers such as Adès, Berio, Boulez, Grisey, Gubaidulina, Lindberg, and Turnage. The Berliner Philharmoniker has for many years had close links with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and, since his appointment, Simon Rattle has led two projects in Venezuela. His 2007/2008 season included guest conducting engagements with OAE, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Vienna Philharmonic; Pelléas et Mélisande was his Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin debut production. Together with the Berliner Philharmoniker he celebrated the orchestra’s 125th birthday jubilee. They spent a 10-day Carnegie Hall residency in the course of the festival Berlin in Lights, a Scandinavian tour, and concerts within the BBC Proms.
At the Salzburg Easter Festival, of which he is Artistic Director, Rattle has conducted staged productions of Fidelio, Così fan tutte, Peter Grimes, and, Pelléas et Mélisande, a concert performance of Idomeneo, and a wide range of concert programs, all with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2007, he also conducted a much-praised revival of Pelléas et Mélisande for the Royal Opera House. He is currently conducting Wagner’s complete Ring cycle with the Berliner Philharmoniker for the Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Easter Festivals. The cycle began with Das Rheingold in Aix in 2006 and will conclude at the 2010 Salzburg Easter Festival.
2008/2009 included Far East and European tours with Berliner Philharmoniker, and projects with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as the Salzburg Easter and Aix-en-Provence festivals. That autumn, he also returned twice to his birthplace for concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, as part of the city’s celebrations as the 2008 European Capital of Culture. Forthcoming operas include productions in Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, and North America.
An exclusive EMI artist for many years, Rattle has made over 70 recordings for the label, and has received numerous prestigious international awards. Releases with the Berliner Philharmoniker include Holst’s The Planets, together with Colin Matthews’ recently written Pluto, and the world premiere recordings of “asteroids” by Saariaho, Pintscher, Turnage, and Dean; Shostakovich Symphonies Nos. 1 and 14; Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme suite; Debussy’s La mer; Dvor?ák tone poems; Schubert’s Symphony No. 9; Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana; Bruckner Symphony No. 4, the Nielsen Clarinet and Flute concertos; and the Brahms Requiem with Röschmann and Quasthoff, which won Best Choral Recording at the 2007 Gramophone Awards. His most recent releases are Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique.
Simon Rattle was knighted in 1994 by the Queen of England, and has received many other distinctions, in recognition of his artistic activities. In 1996, he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg, and in 1997, the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts. Since taking up his appointment with the Berliner Philharmoniker, he has broken new ground with the educational program Zukunft@ Bphil. This earned him the 2004 Comenius Prize, the Schiller Special Prize from the city of Mannheim in May 2005, and the Golden Camera and the Urania Medal in spring 2007. He and the Berliner Philharmoniker were also appointed International UNICEF Ambassadors, the first time this honor has been conferred on an artistic ensemble. The formal appointment took place in November 2007 in New York before the performance of the dance project, The Rite of Spring, at the United Palace Theater in Harlem, which formed part of Carnegie Hall’s Berlin in Lights festival.