Christoph (Heinrich) Förster

German Born 30 Nov 1693 Died 06 Dec 1745

Simon Rattle is one of the most successful conductors in the world. He was the first British conductor to take up the post of music director of the Berliner Philharmoniker when he was just 44 years old.

Rattle was born in Liverpool in January, 1955. His parents were keen music enthusiasts, but not professional musicians. He was exposed to a great deal of music as a child, and says that he first decided he wanted to conduct at the age of eleven, after hearing a performance of Mahler's Second Symphony conducted by George Hurst. 

As a child, Rattle was an accomplished pianist, but being a rather less accomplished violinist, he joined the Merseyside Youth Orchestra as a percussionist. He was later to return to the orchestra as its conductor, and it was with them that he conducted his first Rite of Spring.

Rattle studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, and quickly became known for his enthusiastic and impassioned conducting style. In 1974, he won the John Player Conducting Competition, competing against a field of more experienced conductors. 

He had already begun to establish himself as a professional conductor in London, working with groups including the Nash Ensemble, the London Sinfonietta and the Philharmonia, but winning the competition bought him a post with the Bournemouth orchestras, before moving on to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

Rattle's big break came when he was appointed as the conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The young conductor built up a strong bond with the orchestra, and together the developed into artists of international standing. He stayed with the orchestra until 1998, performing an astonishing 934 concerts after 10,000 hours of rehearsal. Describing Rattle's work with the orchestra in the Sunday Times, Hugh Canning wrote, "What this young conductor has achieved in Birmingham should - but probably won't — serve as a model for running a symphony orchestra and galvanising a musical public in favour of a wide-ranging and progressive repertory."

During the years that followed, Rattle developed working relationships with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic. 

He joined the Berlin Philharmonic as their full time director in 2002, signing a contract for ten years.

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