Simon Rattle is uneasy about ‘jingoistic’ Proms

Simon Rattle is uneasy about ‘jingoistic’ Proms


norman lebrecht

July 27, 2021

The conductor, who lives in Berlin and has quit the LSO for a Munich orchestra, has been sharing deep thoughts with Radio Times on the Last Night of the Proms.

‘I never conducted the Last Night, always avoided it a bit. I’ve been uneasy about some of the jingoistic elements, ever since the Falklands in 1982,’ he said. He then added that Last Night was ‘a kind of extraordinary thing where people got together and celebrated the end of what is a unique series of concerts’.



  • M McAlpine says:

    Oh please spare us this nonsense! There are vastly more serious problems in the world to be concerned with, without bickering about an evening of music.

    • Emil says:

      You are…on a classical music blog. What do you expect to discuss?

    • poyu says:

      That‘s the whole point of this website. There are many reports here talking about stories even less significant for “the world”, so what? You have plenty news channels already.

  • poyu says:

    It was indeed funny to see some right wing media treated last night Proms as a national icon, when it was really just the ending of a overwhelmingly European music festival. They probably should ask their vile MPs to make a law that there has to be more than 50% British composers‘ work in Proms.

  • Matias says:

    Ah, now it’s the Falklands – full of people who had the audacity to enjoy self determination.

    Conductors, Hollywood celebrities, ice cream manufacturers etc should stop being so nauseatingly sanctimonious and shut up. Your opinions on issues outside your own specialisms (and sometimes within them) are of no consequence.

    • Brian Robert Brotherston says:

      Fully agree with you – SR is just a moaner about everything – Maybe he should become an undertaker and leave us all alone .. .. ..

    • Maria says:

      The Falklands is on our Boris British green list as a place you can go on holiday without quarantining, unlike European countries! Between that and Rattle and his bloody Falklands analogy to downgrade the Last Night of the Proms music, it’s just laughable.

  • RobK says:

    What depth. Safe, PC as always.

  • marcus says:

    Speaking as a fully paid up lefty, it’s hard to see what else Thatcher could have done when a foreign power invades your sovereign territory, and self evidently wont leave when asked nicely. Rattle would have been on stronger ground if he had chucked in the last genuine national disgrace-i.e. Suez.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      A territory they had no right to be in, a remnant of colonialism. You are not “lefty” at all.

      • C Bayley says:

        ‘A territory they had no right to be in’

        So who should have been in it, Spain? It had no indigenous population before settlement, and the Falklanders harm nobody.

      • marcus says:

        True, the idea that sovereign ground includes stuff 4000 miles away we appropriated 200 years ago is ridiculous, but what would you have done?

    • V.Lind says:

      Indeed. Sit back and say to the British population, “Oh, well, you have a good run while it lasted. Adios!”

      There are reasons to question the CONDUCT of the war, which is a reflection on Mrs. Thatcher.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      “A fully paid up lefty”? I nearly choked on my breakfast cereal reading that!! It’s always somebody else doing the paying!!

    • The View from America says:

      And Trans-Jordan as well.

    • Maria says:

      Sent Maggie in to take part in the Last Night!

  • Alan says:

    The Falklands was a spectacle that probably helped thatcher stay in powers the time. The Maldives are probably originally Argentinian before being stolen by the British empire. The press at the time were jingoistic as hell and it was embarrassing. The outcome was costly and could have ended in utter disaster. The Belgrano incident was highly controversial. The BS hangover of colonialism sticks in the throat after the atrocities of the British empire.

    • Karl says:

      That war also helped end the dictatorship in Argentina. Britons should be proud of what they accomplished.

    • Jon says:

      The Falkland Islands were uninhabited until the French and British established settlements there in the 1760s. The French settlement was subsequently handed over to the Spanish.

      At that time what we now know as Argentina was one of a number of Spanish Colonies. Argentina wasn’t established as a separate entity until 1816, when it declared independence (some 50 years after the British first settled in the Falklands).

      Argentina’s claim on the Falklands is based on its claim to have inherited all of the areas originally colonised by Spain.

      Britain’s and Argentina’s claims on the islands remain disputed, but the idea that a group of uninhabited islands were part of a Country that did not exist until many years later is nonsense.

      Incidentally, all the current inhabitants are (and want to remain) British.

    • Norbert says:

      Have you actually read a history book, you ignorant arse?

      Argentina has been a democracy, (and more recently a constituent member of the G20) ever since the Falklands War, and the removal of a brutal dictator, whose idea of fun and giggles on a Saturday night was going to see people being tortured.

      Those people should thank Thatcher. She did for them, what they clearly lacked the energy and capacity to do for themselves.

    • Elizabeth Owen says:

      Malvinas not Maldives!

    • V.Lind says:

      The MALDIVES Argentinian? I doubt an Argentinian could honestly admit to having heard of them.

      I assume you mean the Malvinas.

    • Allen says:

      “The Maldives are probably originally Argentinian”

      More likely Spanish, but I suppose that would have been OK?

      The essential point is that the Falklands is populated by people of British descent, not Spanish or Argentinian, and they had no wish to come under Argentinian rule.

      Your simplistic reference to atrocities probably goes down well here, where mindless virtue signalling is generally appreciated. However, voluntary members of the Commonwealth probably hold more balanced views.

    • Paul Carlile says:

      The “Maldives” -probably Argentinian…..your geography is as threadbare as your history.
      Sorry, no marks. Failed!

    • Player says:

      The what??? The MALDIVES? The Argentinians would be surprised to learn that they have a claim to the Maldives… but thrilled!

    • Maria says:

      So all this point scoring should be used to ban the usual Last Night of the Proms musuc because it reminds Rattle of Maggie and the Falkands, and sinking of the Belgrano! Don’t think Henry Wood had that in mind!

      • Saxon says:

        Er…he just said he didn’t particularly want to conduct the Last Night of the Proms because he found it “a bit jingoistic”, and has done since the Falklands war.

        I am baffled that some think the Last Night of the Proms is not “a bit jingoistic”.

  • MWnyc says:

    “a Munich orchestra”?

  • Patrick says:

    Rattle voicing his opinion on jingoistic Proms? And he now a German citizen with Deutschland Uber Alles with Wagner associated with those horrendous events in history! Couldn’t make it up! When shall he hand back his knighthood, as so obviously loathes Little Britain.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Germany has engaged in far greater soul-searching and reparations for its historic crimes than Britain ever has (or will) not to mention the U.S.

    • Allen says:

      Strange, isn’t it? References to events in Europe almost within my living memory are often frowned upon, but Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade is always fair game.

      At least Britain chose to stop the slave trade (although it continues in less overt ways). Pity the same cannot be said about the Holocaust.

      The constant posturing by arts people is a pain in the backside, frankly. I wonder how many people are turned off by it at a time when the arts can ill afford to lose support.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      He’s the only one in the village!!!

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    I suppose that Rattle is entitled to his opinion and needn’t conduct something he is uncomfortable with. Just as many of us needn’t, and don’t, watch it. But, only since the Falklands? The jingoism, if that is what it is, has been there for much longer than the past 40 years and why he now needs to say anything at all is beyond me. I suppose in a way ‘their’ jingoism is a bit like ‘our’ remoanerism although we would never quite see it in those terms.

  • Brian says:

    Strange how this concert still seems to get people in Britain so riled up. If a conductor in New York said they weren’t going to conduct, say, a patriotic July 4th concert by the New York Phil, the tabloids here wouldn’t pay it the least bit of attention.

    Of course, the US has its own issues with nationalistic demagoguery but I doubt classical music would enter into the equation.

    • Sisko24 says:

      Quite correct. I for one wish: 1) The NY Phil would bring back their Independence Day concert and 2) that our Independence Day fireworks broadcasts – particularly fireworks displays – had MORE classical music and not some of the second-rate pop, rap, country & western and other music they usually play. Copland, Price, Bernstein, etc., would fit the bill quite nicely.

      • Patricia says:

        Quite. The concert on the 4th is full of dreck. The only good thing about it is the NSO playing American music while the fireworks dazzle.

    • Dave says:

      It gets a few of the noisiest people worked up and then our idiotic press decides to amplify them.

      The LNOP only still exists as part of the Proms season because the BBC can flog the programme worldwide. Just wait until one of the brexitory party’s placemen at the organisation – the first B might as well stand for Blukip now – decides to sell off the rights to one of their mates. That’ll be for much less than the real value, of course.

  • - says:

    The nationalism already seemed a bit excessive. And now Brexit lends it a toxic tone.

  • Michael Turner says:

    Some years ago I did a concert at the Schleswig Holstein Festival. It was a sort of Last Night clone, and included all the usual favourites: Pomp and Circumstance no 1, Rule Britannia etc. The Germans loved it! They were dancing in the aisles. And I understand they love “the Germans” episode in Fawlty Towers. They can take a joke, the Germans. Good on them! We need to take a leaf out of their book.

  • Barry says:

    I’m almost embarrassed that I have gone to see him conduct so many times.

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    I don’t bother with what Dame Edna referred to as The Last Night of the Poms, but I have no probs with any maestri, musicians or audiences who wish to participate.
    Ironic that Pomp and Circumstance No. 1 is much appreciated in the US, as was Elgar’s music generally, it seems.
    If I could time travel just once, it would be to hear Gustav conducting the NYPO in Elgar’s variations (or anything at all, in fact).

  • christopher storey says:

    Why doesn’t this rather pathetic little man shut up for once? I am so pleased that he has left the UK, and I trust it will be for ever

    • Jacqueline Ridgway says:

      So true. Watching Rattle conduct is horrendous. Also his “interpretations” of works ruins what the composer wanted. Also, much too full of himself.

    • Maria says:

      Just whinges now ever since he left Birmingham.

  • Patrick Gillot says:

    It reminds me of the concerts he gave in Hong Kong with the LSO in 2019. We were then at the beginning of this communist coup which brought additional miseries since. We were very grateful that the LSO still came to town despite the political situation but at the end of the concert Rattle had to vent his opinion about Brexit. We were numerous in the audience to think that Brexit was a rather small issue brought by the will of the British people compared to what the Hong Kong people had to endure from the Chinese communists.

    • Player says:

      Correct. He is a rather moth-eaten old chump. And he punches down, not up. Wouldn’t dare be rude to the CCP!

    • Anon says:

      Yes several members of the LSO were cross as politics should never be uttered. Impartiality at all times, from arts organisations.

    • The View from America says:

      Addressing the Hong Kong issue would have actually required a bit of bravery on SR’s part.

      But that’s not in his playbook, evidently — rather, cheap virtue signaling.

  • C Bayley says:

    I’m sure the Falklanders are now reconsidering their position, and their freedom in particular, following this profound intervention by Mr Rattle.

    I’m sure that Mr Rattle is familiar with the islands. Perhaps he will expand on these comments during his next visit.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    What a crashing bore Rattle has become!!!!

  • Patricia says:

    Then he needn’t worry about conducting the last night, need he?

  • Gary Freer says:

    it’s not jingoistic. Or nationalist.

    it’s patriotic. And harmless fun.

    isn’t Rattle now a German citizen, or applying to be one? presumably he’s a bit uncomfortable conducting Act 3 of Meistersinger.

    • Maria says:

      He might have a German passport but he will never be a German. Far more to that than having a foreign passport as an Englishman.

  • Giles says:

    I’m reminded of US critic Dave Hurwitz’s YouTube videos on Simon Rattle…The UK seems almost unique in producing an artistic elite which hates its own country, its history and anyone who disagrees with their own views. It’s a shame, as that hatred generally isn’t reciprocated. As a Thatcher-supporting Leave-voter, I wish Sir Simon all the best and hope he secures the happy life in the EU that he clearly didn’t feel he could find in the UK. Any orchestra is lucky to have him.

  • The View from America says:

    Evidently it doesn’t take much to rattle Simon’s cage …

  • minacciosa says:

    Well, if the Brits don’t celebrate Britain, who will?

  • Karl says:


  • Wise Guy says:

    Rattle is a rootless global cosmopolitan elitist. He fancies himself a citizen of the world.

  • Miko says:

    Since 2016, the introduction of hundreds of EU flags to the Last Night of the Proms has markedly improved the evening.
    Same again this year! Enjoy.

  • Maria says:

    Here we go again. Wish he’d stop crowing.