Simon Rattle eyes a Munich agreement

Simon Rattle eyes a Munich agreement


norman lebrecht

July 06, 2020

It has just been announced that Rattle will conduct the closing concerts of the Bavarian Radio  Symphony Orchestra, his second visit there in as many months.

It is no secret that Munich wants him to be its successor to Mariss Jansons, who died last December.

Rattle is music director of the London Symphony Orchestra and will not come free soon unless his agent springs an unknown release clause or can arrange an awkward, short-term job share. Rattle lives in Berlin and can manage the shuttle.

Munich’s second choice is Daniel Harding, who was hyped to the heavens this weekend by the Süddeutsche Zeitung under the banner headline ‘Get Daniel Harding’.  Harding’s other interest is collecting air miles – as an Air France pilot.

One way or other, Munich wants to sort out its next chief before the new season starts.

BR-KLASSIK / Symphonieorchester des BR

Simon Rattle dirigiert den Saisonabschluss des Symphonieorchesters
Konzerte am 19. und 20. Juli im Münchner Gasteig /
Übertragung des Konzerts am 20. Juli um 20.00 Uhr im Video-Livestream und Hörfunk

Am Ende einer ungewöhnlichen Konzertsaison unter widrigen Umständen freut sich das Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, noch einmal ein besonderes Konzert zur Aufführung zu bringen: Sir Simon Rattle dirigiert am Sonntag, 19. und Montag, 20. Juli jeweils um 17.00 und 20.00 Uhr in der Philharmonie im Gasteig ein abwechslungsreiches Programm, u. a. mit Gustav Mahlers Rückert-Liedern, dargeboten von der Mezzosopranistin Magdalena Kozená.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, Ouvertüre
Gustav Mahler: Rückert-Lieder (Magdalena Kozená, Mezzosopran)
Paul Dukas: Fanfare pour précéder La Péri
Maurice Ravel: Ma mère l´oie (Ballettmusik)



  • I believe more in the choice of Harding. I’am not sure that Rattle wants to have two orchestras at the same time. I think he never did that even if some others (Gergiev) can do it. Harding seems to have more time, he left Paris. But it’s possible also that Rattle leaves the LSO because of the Brexit and the financial problems…

    • IC225 says:

      While still an emotive subject amongst a politically-engaged minority, Brexit has largely ceased to be an issue in the UK. The emerging reality is one in which it has had little effect on the UK arts – many UK orchestras were booming, and had scheduled large portfolios of major international tours (far beyond Europe) before Covid-19 hit. That is a genuine crisis, but hopefully temporary, and the LSO, of all UK orchestras, is well placed to ride it out.

      I agree, however, that Rattle is not the kind of conductor who would wish to have two orchestras simultaneously – it’s not his style.

  • Henry williams says:

    Iam sure rattle had problems in berlin. Why would he leave unless like Abbado he had
    Health issues.

    • I ‘am not a big fan of Rattle and the BPO is not my favorite orchestra, but I don’t think that he left Berlin with an atmosphere of confilt. I suppose there were some tensions like in every orchestra when you have the same musical director more than 12 years. It’s true also that Rattle was less popular than Abbado but when Rattle did his last Waldbhune farewell show it was a truimph for him. I have seen several time the concert.

      • K N Suntook says:

        Rattle did not have the bonding and sympathy of the BPO, as several lacklustre performances manifested

      • MacroV says:

        I will agree that Sir Simon is not the best interpreter of any particular repertoire, but he’s always struck me as an inspirational leader of an institution. He changed the DNA of the Berlin Phil and from what I’ve seen so far of Petrenko, he’s not likely to change it back.

        Who didn’t love Abbado? It’s hardly a failure of Sir Simon if he was less popular.

  • Anonymous says:

    Where does that leave the LSO? Munich over Brexit Britain and uncertainty of the Arts?

  • A.L. says:

    Rattle’s new recording of Die Walküre with the BRSO is an abject failure.

    • If Rattle goes to the Rundfund he will suffer in popular comparaison with Mariss after the moment he suffered in popular comparaison with Abbado in Berlin. It was easier for him to go in London after Gergiev who was not very popular there.

    • Wally Francis says:

      I have to fundamentally disagree with this view. Simon Rattle has not identified himself as a Wagner devotee during his illustrious career true. But he brings to this wonderful work a sense of balanced wonderment and sure footed steady tempos which allow the music to breath and unfold gloriously in all three Acts. Forget the usual character assassination stuff [a byword on this blog] and just listen to the music. The recording and balance is excellent as well.

  • RW2013 says:

    Depends if they want all the Kozená that they would get.

  • erich says:

    It’s no coincidence that the three ‘likely lads’ Harding, Rattle and Welser-Möst are all conducting in the last week before the holidays. The BR needs to decide which of them would be most able to (a) kick start the orchestra’s lucrative international Renommee and touring earning capacity as and when Covid makes this possible and (b) revive the clearly flagging campaign to build the new concert hall in Munich.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    If Rattle left the LSO what would happen to his vanity project the proposed concert hall at Smithfield?

    • Rugbyfiddler says:

      I would suggest the over-riding question just now is will there be an orchestra to play in the ‘vanity project’ as you so describe what is an essential requirement for London just now. There is nothing in the capital to compare acoustically with either Symphony Hall in Birmingham, The Royal Hall in Nottingham or even the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow.

    • With the Covid-19, the economic crises, the British system against the Public funds like in France Italy and Germany this project will finish in the vault of a basement for the next 30 years.

    • Gustavo says:

      Music itself leaves home in countless ways …

  • Pedro says:

    Harding with Welser-Möst, Ticciati and Viotti are overvalued conductors. Worst than the orchestras they are now invited to lead. I know because I went to their concerts for a try. Never again! Salonen, Gatti and Mälkki are my first choices for the SOBR, now that my other favourite conductors (Barenboim, Thielemann, Yannick and Shani) are busy elsewhere.

  • MacroV says:

    The LSO and the BRSO seems pretty manageable combination. The commute’s not that long, and how much of his time would either of those jobs take? A lot more manageable than JvanZ conducting in both New York and Hong Kong.

    As for Berlin, I have no idea. But he was there for 16 years and even if they love each other to death, it’s time for both to have a new partner.

  • Stephen Birkin says:

    In an interview before he took over at the LSO, Rattle stated that since Andre Previn the orchestra had not been led by anyone who actually cared about the players. Abbado had no idea what they did when he was elsewhere and Gergiev was fly-in-fly-out. Even Colin Davis, on his appointment as President, apparently made it clear that he didn’t want to be involved in the running of the orchestra, although that perhaps had something to do with his age and health. So I naturally, if naively, assumed Rattle intended to follow in the Previn mould. If juggling Munich & London isn’t feasible he needs to opt for London. We’ll see.

  • Rachelle Goldberg says:

    At the moment one can see that the German, Austrian and Dutch Orchestras are up and running so to speak with the concert season resuming well over a month ago with either social distancing musicians or as per usual with social distanced audience NOTHING is happening here in the U.K. There is no indication when orchestras will be performing. It is obvious therefore that if work comes in to conduct top Orchestras then he would take it.

  • JHiggins says:

    In the current climate, Rattle would be a fool not to jump ship: better money, shorter commute to and from his family, and dare I say better orchestra?

  • Tamino says:

    I wouldn’t read too much into it.
    Just a gig that’s offered to him when such gigs are rare.
    Can he really leave London, jump ship, at this point in time?
    He could never set foot into London again me thinks.
    On the other hand, Corona virus and Brexit both are not his fault…

  • Evan Tucker says:

    This would be an absolutely disastrous move for Rattle. Britain needs his leadership so badly, even if the city and country does not give him what he wants, his public and his orchestra always will. But in Munich, the expectations will be infinitely high and can only be a disappointment when he inevitably doesn’t produce the desired results in the first two minutes. He will only be measured against Jansons and not be around long enough to build something truly new.

    Harding is the right man for Munich. Rattle really is a great conductor, but he’s gotten the most out of a finite amount of talent. Harding is a Kleiber/Barenboim level talent whom, like Maazel, is in serious danger of not living up to anything like his infinite potential. The expectations will be nowhere near as high, and Harding will have the chance to finally grow into a great conductor the way Barenboim did with the Staatsoper and Haitink did with the Concertgebouw. In a generation of truly great conductors, Harding has lagged behind, but he now would have a chance to prove himself.

  • Seriously says:

    Being a jet pilot isn’t an “interest”. It’s a life accomplishment. He holds the lives of hundreds in his hands when he flies, show some respect. You sound like a sniping dilettante. Or maybe you’re jealous that Daniel Harding is doubly useful as a human while you’re… you.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    If he’s performing Dukas’ Fanfare, then why not also perform La Peri, itself??

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Rattle is a weak interpreter and a bog-standard conductor technically.
    My advice to the BRSO: go with Harding.