German of the Week: Sir Simon Rattle

Berliner Philharmoniker / Wikimedia

Berliner Philharmoniker / Wikimedia

Our German of the Week this week is Sir Simon Rattle. In fact, for a change, he is yet another honorary German we would like to present to you.

For years Sir Simon Rattle has been the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic or as they are called in German - Berliner Philharmoniker.. After a long tenure, this Monday his successor will be announced. Nevertheless it might still be time to look back at his life and work in Berlin.

Born in Liverpool in 1955 the British conductor laid the foundation of his career in London. It’s there that he entered the Royal Academy of Music in 1971. Only 3 years later, right before graduating, Rattle won the John Player International Conducting Competition. Directly after, he assumed the position of assistant conductor at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

His time with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) from 1980 to 1998 drew him to the attention of critics and the public.

It was in 1987 that he gained the infamous knighthood that bestowed him the title of SIR. His degree of Doctor of Music honoris causa of the University of Oxford in 1999 only added to his rising profile.  

Berlin was proud to be called his new home as of 2002. It was then when he assumed his current position as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. But it was not his first appearance. Rattle made his conducting debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1987, in a performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6.

His first concert as principal conductor in 2002 received rave reviews from the press worldwide. This time it was Mahler's Symphony No. 5.

During his time in Berlin he not only managed to turn the institution into a foundation, with more control for its members; he also established its first education department.

Even though he is not leaving Berlin quite yet he sure may look forward to yet another of the Great Orchestras. As of 2017 he will be the Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.