SIR SIMON RATTLE
Simon Rattle is one of the most celebrated conductors of the present day - as the New York Times aptly said, he is "Maestro of the moment and still growing…with the orchestra world at his feet." 47 years old this year, Rattle has been the recipient of a huge number of prestigious awards, honorary doctorates as well as a knighthood and his work creates such a phenomenal stir that he is in demand in concert halls the world over.
He was born in Liverpool in l955 and, at the age of l6, went to the Royal Academy of Music in London to study conducting. In l974 he won first prize in the John Player International Conducting Competition and became Assistant Conductor of both the Bournemouth Symphony and Sinfonietta for three years. He subsequently held titles with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony and Rotterdam Philharmonic and from 1981 to 1983 was Artistic Director of the South Bank Summer Music Festival. Guest conducting included such orchestras as the London Sinfonietta, Philharmonia and The London Philharmonic.
In 1980 he took up the post of Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and became its Music Director in September l990, stepping down in 1998. Following the opening of Symphony Hall in 1991, the CBSO is fortunate to have as its home one of the world's finest concert and recording halls. Simon Rattle has led the CBSO on many successful tours, including Europe and Scandinavia and the Orchestra's first visits to the Far East and North America and subsequent returns there. In October 1992 he became Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and is also Artistic Adviser of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. This year Simon Rattle became Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sir Simon Rattle signed his new contract as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, for a period of ten years commencing in September 2002. The formal signing ceremony took place at the Philharmonie in Berlin on 19th September 2001, two years after Rattle was elected to his new role by large majority of the Berlin Philharmonic musicians. Present at the ceremony were representatives of the Orchestra management and players, the Berlin Senate and EMI Classics, with whom Rattle also signed a new long-term recording contract. In a short speech, Rattle said that he "looked forward impatiently" to taking up his new post with the "wonderful" Berlin Philharmonic. The previous night, Rattle had wowed the Philharmonie audience with a staggering performance of Schönberg's Gurrelieder, as part of the Berliner Festwochen. It will surely have whetted the appetite for more extraordinary collaborations in years to come and for the forthcoming EMI Classic recording of this immense and wonderful work.
In l979 Rattle made his North American debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and was their Principal Guest Conductor from l98l until 1994. During this period he also conducted the Cleveland Orchestra and Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto and Boston Symphony Orchestras. He made his New York debut in l985 with the LA Philharmonic (Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls) and next appeared there with the CBSO in 1988. The same year included his US Opera debut (Wozzeck) with the Los Angeles Opera and Philharmonic.
His Glyndebourne debut was in 1977 (The Cunning Little Vixen). Productions since then have been Ariadne auf Naxos, Der Rosenkavalier, Love for Three Oranges, Idomeneo, Porgy and Bess (recorded by EMI Classics in 1988), the Ravel double-bill L'heure Espagnole and L'enfant et les sortileges - all with the The London Philharmonic - and The Marriage of Figaro (1989), Cosi fan tutte (1991) and Don Giovanni (1994) with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment. In summer 2001 he conducted Beethoven’s Fidelio for Glyndebourne again with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment. He made his English National Opera debut in 1985 (Katya Kabanova) and his Royal Opera House debut in 1990 with The Cunning Little Vixen, which was subsequently recorded by EMI. Other opera projects included Tristan and Isolde (Netherlands Opera in February 2001) and Parsifal at Covent Garden in December 2001.
An exclusive EMI artist for many years, he has made over sixty recordings, which between them have gained many international awards. Mahler 2 won three Gramophone Awards: Record of the Year, Best Orchestral Recording Award and Best Engineering and Production. Porgy and Bess won the 1989 Gramophone Opera award and the l990 International Record Critics' Award and in April 1990 he received France's most prestigious award, the Grand Prix in Honorem de l'Académie Charles Cros for his recordings of Porgy and Bess, and discs of Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and Debussy. Other recordings of the early 1990’s included Liszt A Faust Symphony (his first recording with the Berlin Philharmonic), and (with CBSO) Szymanowski Symphony No 3, Stabat Mater and Litany for the Virgin Mary (which received Germany's Echo award for best symphonic recording of 1994, and two Gramophone Awards 1995 – Best Choral and Best Engineering) and Shostakovich Symphony No 4/Britten Russian Funeral. The 1995 Gramophone Awards also gave Best Orchestral Recording to his disc of Schoenberg Chamber Symphony No.1 with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group coupled with Schoenberg Variations and Erwartung with CBSO).
Other releases have included Mozart Cosi fan tutte with the OAE and with the CBSO, Grainger In a Nutshell, Bruckner Symphony No.7, Szymanowski Violin Concertos Nos.1 & 2 which won the 1997 Gramophone Award for the Best Concerto Recording, Mahler Das Lied von der Erde and the CBSO recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto with Nigel Kennedy. In November 1998, his recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto Op.15 (with Leif Ove Andsnes) was awarded the Choc de l'Année 1998. By special arrangement with EMI, he recorded the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with Alfred Brendel and the Vienna Philharmonic for Philips Classics which were released in early 1999 - in November 1999 they won the Diapson Recording of the Year Award. His Channel 4 television series Leaving Home, the most ambitious series about 20th-century orchestra music ever commissioned, was shown in Autumn 1996 and received the 1997 BAFTA award for Best Arts Programme or Series. In October 1998 he released Mahler 3 in a recording with the CBSO and Birgit Remmert and Simon Keenlyside in Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Bernstein’s vibrant musical Wonderful Town was then released in July 1999 and received fantastic reviews, followed shortly by Szymanowski’s opera King Roger coupled with his Symphony No.4. This latter disc won countless prestigious awards on the international scene including both the ‘prestige award’ and 'best conductor’ for the Academie du Disque Lyrique, as well as ‘best opera’ in the Schallplattenkritik awards and the Gramophone award 2000 for best Opera. In April 2000 EMI Classics released a live recording of Rattle conducting Deryck Cooke’s version of Mahler 10 with the BPO, just days after the announcement that he would take over as their chief conductor and artistic director. Rave reviews greeted its release, and the Daily Express said: "What a partnership! Cooke’s version of Mahler’s sketches sounds transcendental in a performance that leaves you in awe." The disc was awarded two Gramophone Awards - Record of the Year 2000, as well as Best Orchestral Recording. Mahler 10 also won a highly coveted Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards. With the Mahler 10 at the Classical Brit Awards in May 2001, he won both the award for Orchestral Album as well as the Critics’ Award.
September 2000 saw the release of ‘Classic Ellington’ - a unique disc featuring the music of one of the greatest figures in Jazz history, Duke Ellington, as arranged by Luther Henderson. Rattle showed his considerable versatility with this project conducting the CBSO with a band of leading jazz musicians and, in three Ellington songs, the great jazz vocalist Lena Horne.
During 1997/98, his last season as CBSO's Music Director, he toured with them in North America, Europe and Japan and also conducted a complete Beethoven Symphony cycle at the 1998 Salzburg Festival. His highly imaginative 10-year festival with CBSO Towards The Millennium ended in Spring 2000, having had great success at concerts in Birmingham, London, Frankfurt, Baden Baden and Vienna. On top of his operatic projects in 2001, Rattle conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in performances of Beethoven’s Symphonies across Europe. In May 2002 the complete Beethoven Symphonies will be made into five live CD’s in a monumental recording project taking place in Vienna’s Muiskverein. In August 2001 EMI Classics released Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with Rattle and the VPO coupled with the Brahms’ Violin Concerto played by Kyung-Wha Chung. 2002 will see the release of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder with the BPO.
In March 1993 he received the Montblanc de la Culture award for private vision for his devotion to cultural endeavor. He was awarded this for his work with the CBSO and his involvement in the building of the highly acclaimed Birmingham Symphony Hall. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates of Music by the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool and was chosen Artist of the Year at the prestigious 1993 Gramophone Awards. In the 1987 New Years Honours Simon Rattle was awarded the C.B.E. for his services to Music and in June 1994, he was made a Knight Bachelor in the Birthday Honours List. He was also honoured as Officier des Arts et Lettres by the French Minister of Culture in November 1995 and awarded the Toepfer Foundation of Hamburg's 1996 Shakespeare Prize for his outstanding contribution to the arts within the framework of Europe's cultural heritage. In September 1997 he was awarded the first ever BBC Music Magazine Outstanding Achievement Award and in November 1997 he was awarded the Royal Society of Arts Albert Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to music and his involvement in educational and community activities. In January 1999 he received the Outstanding Achievement award at the 1999 South Bank Show Awards in honour of his 18 years work with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In September 2001 Rattle was presented with the Austrian honour, "The Cross of Honour for Science and the Arts" (first class) in recognition of his part in one of the most momentous events of the century, in May 2000. On the site of Austria's most horrific concentration camp from WW2 at Mauthausen, Rattle led the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in an open-air performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - Ode to Joy.
Rattle has a busy 2002/2003 season ahead of him with concerts in the US with the Philadelphia Orchestra; in Vienna with the VPO; Berlin with the BPO and Birmingham with the CBSO. In October he will be touring Europe with the BPO and in 2003 he will also be taking the BPO on a tour of the US, visiting New York, Philadelphia Washington, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the latter part of the year Rattle will be at Covent Garden and shortly thereafter he will be taking the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on a short European tour.
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