Simon Rattle to Leave Berlin Philharmonic in 2018

Simon Rattle, the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, announced today that he will leave the orchestra when his contract expires in 2018.

“In 2018, I will have worked with the Berlin Philharmonic for 16 years,” Rattle said in an e-mailed statement sent by the orchestra. “I will then be nearly 64. As a Liverpudlian, I cannot celebrate this special birthday without asking the Beatles’ question: ‘Will you still need me when I’m 64?’”

Rattle said the decision wasn’t easy, yet he is sure the time has come for someone else to take on the “big and wonderful challenge” of leading the orchestra.

The self-governed Berlin Philharmonic elects its own chief conductor and in 2009, extended Rattle’s contract through to 2018. Rattle began his stint there in 2002, having previously led the City of Birmingham Orchestra.

Double bassist Peter Riegelbauer and horn player Stefan Dohr, leaders of the orchestra’s executive board, said they regret and respect Rattle’s decision and praised the “sympathetic and respectful artistic and human collaboration” between the conductor and his orchestra.

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To contact the writer on the story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at

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