Simon Rattle: Ich bin ein Berliner

Simon Rattle: Ich bin ein Berliner


norman lebrecht

May 30, 2014

The outgoing Philharmonic conductor has told Richard Morrison in a Times paywalled video that, come what may, when his time is up with the orchestra he will remain in Berlin. ‘Our plan is that we would remain living in Berlin,’ he says. ‘I’ve been doing an opera every year in the Staatsoper in Berlin. I’ve just done the Ring for the first time with the Deutsche Oper. There are many possibilities at home…’

He emphasises ‘at home’. Home is Berlin.

If he were to join the LSO (as Morrison has reported), it would be as a fly-in on Air Berlin.

simon rattle1


  • Ziggy says:

    The marvellous LSO deserve better…..

  • Halldor says:

    He has a young family; why dislocate them for an orchestra that has already shown that it’s perfectly happy to have a principal conductor who jets in only as-and-when? Not that Rattle would ever stint on his artistic commitment – he’s constitutionally incapable of doing so. But to be fair, why would anyone who didn’t have to live in London choose to do so?

    • Alexander says:

      “… why would anyone who didn’t have to live in London choose to do so?” Probably because London is just about the most exciting place to live. We have two opera houses, a dozen concert halls, five symphony orchestras (not including the resident opera house orchestras), another dozen early music/chamber orchestras, half a dozen or so annual music festivals that I can think of, two classical ballet companies, by my reckoning at least eight contemporary dance companies, more than one hundred theatres, about 125 cinemas, and more than 240 museums. The Proms is the largest music festival in the world, and both Daniel Barenboim and Andrew Davis are on record as saying that it is the greatest. The Royal Ballet is by consensus considered to be one of the world’s finest, often compared with the Bolshoi, Mariinsky, New York City, and Paris Opera. London’s West End Theatreland can be compared only with Broadway in New York. Three of the five most visited art museums in the world (and eight of the top 45) are in London. Six of the 20 most visited museums of any kind in the world are also in London. If you are able to sneer at London with such contempt I can only imagine that it is because you are fortunate enough to live in New York.

  • M R says:

    I think you will find that none of the principal conductors of London’s 5 Orchestras lives in London or even the UK. Jurowski in BERLIN, Salonen in Los Angeles, Dutoit in Switzerland, Oramo in Scandinavia and Gergiev in Russia. Mark Elder lives in London and is MD at Halle and all other British Orchestras have MDs who do not live in the city they work in. So there we go. Simon would, if he were to take up leadership, I am sure, rehearse programmes thoroughly. What is your point in this article?

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    I would not recommend flying Air Berlin at the present time. A private jet to London City is far better;-)

  • sylvain vasseur says:

    Well said M R !

  • I could see him radiate sheer delight conducting The Ring last autumn at Deutsche Oper, so this is no surprise.

  • Joseph Eckhard says:

    It is by no means certain Simon Rattle is goiing to take the job with the LSO. It would seem that his list of demands cannot be met. He is not exactly thrilled with the Barbican and he clearly wouldn’t be happy touring endlessly.
    Maybe Richard Morrison will have to issue another apology.

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    This feels a little bit uncomfortable, but does Sir Simon REALLY means that he considers himself being that famous Prussian pastery ‘Berliner Pfannkuchen’ or, like inhabitants of Germany’s capital prefer to name it in a short cut, ‘ein Berliner’?
    In this matter he shares the same striking position as former USpresident John F. Kennedy once did in (west-)Berlin, while introducing himself by that infamous frase ‘Ich bin EIN Berliner’ (I am local pastery) in stead of ‘Ich bin Berliner’ (I am inhabitant of the city)

  • anonymus says:

    The pastry is not called a Berliner in Berlin, only in southern Germany. So nobody laughed, to the locals his wording was absolutely fine.
    Also it is grammatically correct the way he said it. He wanted to emphasize, that he is one of them. “Einer” von ihnen, “ein” Berliner. “Ich bin Berliner” would not have the same meaning.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      The Pfannkuchen is actually called “Berliner” in Berlin, too. Don’t believe everything in Wikipedia.

      But, it is correct that “ich bin ein Berliner” does NOT mean that one is a Pfannkuchen. “Berliner” is anything or anybody from Berlin (“Berliner Philharmoniker”, Berliner Luft”, Berliner Schnauze”, “Berliner Jungs” etc).

      As an actual Berliner (a person from Berlin, not a Pfannkuchen), I never even thought of understanding Kennedy’s quote that way. “Berliner” is so generic that it completely depends on the context. Only when I came to the US did people tell me that they thought that was how it was understood. But it wasn’t, and still isn’t if you say something like that.