Sir Simon Rattle has announced that he will leave the post of chief conductor at the Berlin Philharmonic when his contract comes to an end in 2018.
The conductor made the announcement to the orchestra saying ‘In 2018 I will have been with the orchestra for 16 years, I will be nearly 64 years old. As a Liverpool boy, it is impossible not to think of the Beatles’ question, “Will you still need me…, when I’m 64?”’
Rattle joined the orchestra in 2002 and his tenure seemed to get off to a bumpy start with rumours that some of the Berlin Phil’s musicians would have preferred Daniel Barenboim as chief conductor. But having secured fair pay for all and got written assurance from Berlin politicians of the orchestra’s artistic independence, Rattle managed to gain the orchestra’s loyalty.
During his tenure in Germany, Rattle has also expanded the orchestra’s activity to include outreach projects and introduced more contemporary music to the orchestra’s programming.
‘We regret Simon Rattle’s decision not to continue as artistic director of the orchestra when his contract expires in 2018,’ said the orchestra’s chairmen, Peter Riegelbauer and Stefan Dohr. ‘Our collaboration with him is characterised by great mutual sympathy and a respectful artistic and human relationship.’
Rattle started his conducting career at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, where he became assistant conductor aged 19. He was appointed conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1980 and the orchestra’s current high profile is due in large part to his efforts.
‘I look forward with great pleasure to our next five years together and hopefully many years afterwards,’ said Rattle. ‘I am thankful for the time that we have spent together so far.’