Sir Simon Rattle : Biography
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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 London, Europe and the USA, enjoying a close association with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for many years and now 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 Netherlands Opera. Other notable debuts included English National Opera (1985), his US opera debut in Los Angeles (1988), Royal Opera House (1990) and Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris (1996).
For 15 years a regular guest conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Simon Rattle became its Chief Conductor and Artistic 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 programmes 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 Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and, since his appointment, Simon Rattle has led two projects in Venezuela.
At the Salzburg Easter Festival, of which he is Artistic Director, Rattle has conducted staged productions of Fidelio, Cosi fan tutte, Peter Grimes and Pelléas et Mélisande, a concert performance of Idomeneo and a wide range of concert programmes, all with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He has also conducted 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 concluded with Goetterdaemmerung at the 2010 Salzburg Easter Festival. Recent opera has also included Pelléas et Mélisande for the Royal Opera House (2007); Tristan und Isolde for the Wiener Staatsoper (2009); L'Étoile for the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin (2010) and he makes his Metropolitan Opera, New York debut in December 2010 with Pelléas et Mélisande . He conducts Salome for the 2011 Salzburg Easter Festival and returns to Netherlands Opera in May 2011 for Der Rosenkavalier .
Recent seasons have included Far East and European tours with Berliner Philharmoniker; projects with Vienna Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Philadelphia Orchestra. The 2007/2008 season included the Berliner Philharmoniker's 125th birthday celebrations, Berlin in Lights, (a 10-day Carnegie Hall residency), a Scandinavian tour, the BBC Proms and two visits to his birthplace, Liverpool, for concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker and with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, as part of the city's celebrations as the 2008 European Capital of Culture.
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 Berliner Philharmoniker include Holst's The Planets, together with Colin Matthews' recently-written Pluto, and the world premiere recordings of further 'asteroids' by Saariaho, Pintscher, Turnage and Dean; Shostakovich Symphonies Nos. 1 and 14; Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and le Bourgeois Gentilhomme suite; Debussy’s La mer; Dvorák Tone Poems; Schubert's Symphony No. 9; Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana; Bruckner Symphony No.4, the Nielsen Clarinet and Flute concertos; and Brahms Requiem with Röschmann and Quasthoff, which won Best Choral Recording at the 2008 Grammy awards. His most recent releases are Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms (recipient of the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance), Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique, Ravel L'enfant et les sortileges and Brahms' Symphonies.
Recent seasons included his Metropolitan Opera debut, opera productions in Vienna, Berlin, London and Salzburg; extensive touring with the Berliner Philharmoniker; and projects with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Wiener Philharmoniker and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Simon Rattle was knighted in 1994 by the Queen of England, and has received many other distinctions, in recognition of his artistic activities. In 2009, on the anniversary of the day of the German Unity, Sir Simon Rattle was awarded the Grosse Verdienstkreuz by the German government in recognition for his artistic activities and for his initiation of the education programme Zukunft@BPhil of the Berliner Philharmoniker. 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 programme Zukunft@Bphil. This has also earned him the 2004 Comenius Prize, the Schiller Special Prize from the city of Mannheim in May 2005, 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 honour 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.