The Berliner Philharmoniker, founded in 1882 as a self-governing body, has long been
considered one of the world's finest orchestras. Hans von Bülow, Arthur Nikisch, and
Wilhelm Furtwängler were the principal conductors who each left their distinctive mark in
the early decades. In 1955, Herbert von Karajan became artistic director and, in the
ensuing years, worked with the orchestra to develop a unique tonal quality and performing
style that made the Berliner Philharmoniker famous all over the world. Claudio Abbado,
chief conductor from 1990 to 2002, devised a new type of program characterized primarily by
contemporary works, an increased number of chamber recitals, and concert performances of
operas. Sir Simon Rattle took the helm in September 2002.
The orchestra's change of status to a charitable foundation (the Stiftung Berliner
Philharmoniker) has created new opportunities and ensured its economic future. Central to
this support is the orchestra's Education Program, which was set up at the time of Mr.
Rattle's appointment and which is intended to ensure that the orchestra reaches a
broader-and above all, younger-audience. In November 2007, the Berliner Philharmoniker and
Mr. Rattle were appointed international Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF. Thanks to the
support of its long-time partner Deutsche Bank, the Berliner Philharmoniker was enabled to
start an innovative project in January 2009: the Digital Concert Hall, which broadcasts the
orchestra's concerts worldwide live via the internet.
Sir Simon Rattle
Born in Liverpool in 1955, Sir Simon Rattle has been chief conductor of the Berliner
Philharmoniker and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonie since September 2002. He
was 25 when, following his studies at London's Royal Academy of Music, he began his close
association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), initially as principal
conductor and artistic adviser, then-up until the 1998 season-as its musical director. His
tireless work and visionary artistic projects helped to turn the CBSO into one of the
world's top-ranking orchestras.
In the concert hall and opera house, Mr. Rattle's extensive repertoire covers compositions
that range from the Baroque era to contemporary music. Rattle is also principal guest
conductor of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and works with leading orchestras on
both sides of the Atlantic. Even before taking up his post as principal conductor, Mr.
Rattle had already collaborated regularly with the Berliner Philharmoniker for 15 years. Of
the many recordings he has made with the orchestra, several have received prestigious
awards. All of these releases were recorded live at the Philharmonie.
One of Mr. Rattle's special passions is to bring the work and music of the Berliner
Philharmoniker to young people of the most diverse social and cultural backgrounds. To that
end, he has established the Education Program, which enables the orchestra to pursue new
approaches to promulgating its music. Knighted by the Queen of England in 1994, Mr. Rattle
was awarded many prizes for his commitment to outreach work: 2009 brought him the Spanish
Premio Don Juan de Borbón de la Música, the Gloria Artis gold medal from the Polish
Ministry of Culture Warsaw, and the German Federal Cross of Merit. In June 2010, Mr. Rattle
was awarded a knighthood in the French Legion of Honor.