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  • Born

    19 January 1955 (age 63)

  • Born In

    Liverpool, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom

Sir Simon Denis Rattle, (born January 19, 1955) is an English conductor. He rose to prominence as conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and is currently principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic (BPO).

Rattle was born in Liverpool, the son of Pauline Lila Violet (Greening) and Denis Guttridge Rattle, a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves. He studied at Liverpool College. He learned the piano and violin, but his early work with orchestras was as a percussionist. He entered the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1971. There, his teachers included John Carewe. In 1974, his graduation year, Rattle won the John Player Conductor Competition. After organising and conducting a performance of Mahler's Second Symphony whilst still at the Academy, he was talent-spotted by the music agent Martin Campell-White, of Harold Holt Ltd. (now Askonas Holt Ltd.), who has since managed Rattle's career. He spent the academic year 1980/81 at St Anne's College, Oxford studying English Language and Literature. He had been attracted to the college by the reputation of Dorothy Bednarowska, Fellow and Tutor in English. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of St Anne's in 1991. He was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Music honoris causa of the University of Oxford in 1999.

Rattle has conducted a wide variety of music, including some with period instruments (musical instruments contemporary with the music being played), but he is best known for his interpretations of early 20th century composers such as Mahler, with a recording of Mahler's Second Symphony winning several awards on its release and being regarded by some as Rattle's finest recording to date. He has also championed much contemporary music, including the tv series Leaving Home, where he presents a 7-part survey of musical styles and conductors with excerpts recorded by the Birmingham Symphony. His meticulous realization of some of the great Romantic works has forged a somewhat intense style. This is exemplified in his new cycle of the Beethoven Symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic – although the orchestral playing is recognisably Viennese, there is a noticeable "period-instrument" quality to the sound. His newest recordings with the Berlin orchestra (as of 2006) have, on the whole, been favourably received, notably his recordings of the Dvorak tone poems and Debussy's La Mer. The Gramophone Magazine praised the latter as a "magnificent disc" and drew favourable comparisons with interpretations of the piece by Rattle's immediate predecessors, Claudio Abbado and Herbert von Karajan. He has also worked with the world famous Toronto Children's Chorus. Recently Rattle and the BPO recorded Holst's Planets (EMI), which was the BBC Music Magazine Orchestra Choice. In addition, Rattle's complete 1989 recording of George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess was used as the soundtrack for the 1993 television production of the work. It was the first made-for-television production of Porgy and Bess ever presented. Rattle's 2007 recording of Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem received praise from BBC Music Magazine, as "Disc of the Month" for April 2007, "as probably the best new version of the Requiem I've heard in quite some years." Rattle and the BPO recently released Bruckner's Fourth Symphony, Romantic, and Haydn's Symphonies Nos. 88-92 and sinfonia concertante. Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker released the recordings of Mahler's Ninth Symphony on December 11, 2007. EMI is to release part of the live performance of the Silvesterkonzert 2007, whose repertoire includes Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Borodin's Second Symphony and Polovtsian Dances. This disc is to be released on January 14, 2008.

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