Simon Rattle

British conductor

Sir Simon Rattle is one of the world's best-known conductors. He has been Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and will be Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra from 2017.

British conductor Simon Rattle, born on 19 January 1955 in Liverpool, has been leading his musical career with the same brio from his student days through to his latest activities at the head of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

He began by learning piano and violin, and playing the percussion in his music school's orchestra. He was already conducting during his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 1974, the year he graduated, he won the John Player International Conducting Competition. He also holds a Doctor of Music honoris causa from the University of Oxford, where he previously studied English Language and Literature.

In the 1970s he conducted several orchestras, principally the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. His work at the head of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1980 onwards helped make him one of the most acclaimed conductors in the world. He has been principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and, since 1992, of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. From 1992, he was joint principal guest conductor of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

In 2002, after a 15-year collaboration as guest conductor, he was appointed chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, taking over from Claudio Abbado. On his arrival, he insisted that the musicians be better paid and that the orchestra be transformed into a foundation, making it independent of public funding. He also took over the management of the Salzburg Easter Festival. In March 2015, Simon Rattle was appointed Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Early twentieth-century and contemporary music make up a large part of his repertoire. He had made an exceptionally large number of recordings.

He has been honoured many times for his commitment to musical education. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1987 and knighted by the Queen of England in 1994. He and the Berlin Philharmonic were appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors in 2007; he was awarded a knighthood in the French Legion of Honour in 2010 by the French ambassador to Germany.

Simon Rattle has been married to Magdalena Kozena since 2008. They have two children.

► Five landmark dates in the life of Simon Rattle:
• 1955: born in Liverpool (United Kingdom)
• 1971: began studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London
• 1980: Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
• 2002: Music Director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
• 2015: appointed Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra from September 2017

► Five key recordings by Simon Rattle:
• George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Willard White (Porgy), Cynthia Haymon (Bess)
Simon Rattle (conductor)
EMI, 1989

• Arnold Schönberg, Gurrelieder
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Radio Choir
Karita Matila, Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Moser, Philip Langridge, Thomas Quasthoff
Simon Rattle (conductor)
EMI, 2002

• Johannes Brahms, Symphonies
Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra
Simon Rattle (conductor)
EMI, 2008

• Thomas Adès, Tevot / Violin Concerto
Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra
Anthony Marwood (violin)
Simon Rattle (conductor)
EMI, 2010

• Serge Rachmaninov, The BellsSymphonic Dances
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Radio Choir
Simon Rattle (conductor)
EMI, 2013