Simon Rattle to receive Germany’s highest honour

Simon Rattle to receive Germany’s highest honour


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2022

The conductor will be presented next Tuesday with the Grand Cross of Merit with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, to add to his British knighthood which is just a Sir.

The award will be presented by  German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.


  • John Borstlap says:

    How nice!

    And yet, I found him often rather mediocre in his performances, especially of music of the German classical tradition.

    • MacroV says:

      I will admit that he doesn’t do Bruckner like Bloomstedt, Mahler like Haitink, or anything like Klieber. But none of those gentlemen (may the latter two rest in peace) were available to become MD of the BPO in 2002. As a leader of an institution seeking to maintain relevance and prosper in a new century, he is without peer.

  • Gustavo says:

    Well deserved.

    Sir Simon is a true European!

  • A.L. says:

    Interesting that he is receiving the honorific precisely as he has become more irrelevant and his conducting grown worse.

    • John Borstlap says:

      In certain Kreuzberg circles the suspicion has arisen that it is precisely for these developments that he has been rewarded.

  • Orchestral Player says:

    It’s hilarious all those nobodies who are so negative about several great artists who would not have achieved what they did without mega talent and hard work ….
    Sad non entities all of you

    • John Borstlap says:

      You don’t understand the site. Comments are by such a great diversity that it is impossible to just generalize – the easy way.

    • Maria says:

      Plenty of armchair experts and critics on this site! Some of us have got up and actually done the job! We may not be stars, but we’ve done the job, and know how hard it is to do it either in a village hall or the Royal Albert Hall in London. It’s all the same. So many bashing up Simon Rattle unnecessarily. Yes, he’s crowed on unnecessarily about yet another London concert hall, but still his legacy in years to come will go down in history as opening doors for people, and particularly what he did in the inner-city of Birmingham [in England not America] for the disadvantaged, the under achieving kids, and those who thought all classical music was just ‘middle-class crap!’ and not for them.

    • Terence Van Vliet says:

      Finally a point of view on Slipped Disc with which I can agree. Bless you Orchestral Player!

    • Gustavo says:

      This website is a forum for the non-talented music-loving misanthrope.

    • Jim (Wally) Adams says:

      I think reviewers are being very German. My misunderstanding is that German criticism is made to improve performance. I regret to say I have never remembered Bruckner. Whatever other criticism, I say Rattle is better than any Karajan, who I did think made boring precise, regular music, which should have been uplifting, but wasn’t for me. But it was very Germanic!
      Never mind, different cultures have different norms!
      What I have heard (I will use his first name) of Simon Rattle’s performances uplifts me!

  • Stephen Maddock says:

    To be fair he also has the Order of Merit, awarded by the Queen and limited to just 24 members at any time.

    • Diana Lowley says:

      Thankyou for adding that important piece of information, Stephen. The author of the article rather belittles his title’-he is not ‘just’ a Sir, that is an honour not given to many in Britain. I am certain he was honoured, not only for his masterful conducting, but also his charitable work with the youth of Birmingham. A great man must also show compassion as well as talent. I am happy the Germans recognised his talents.

  • Harry Collier says:

    I have only heard Rattle in the concert hall once. But I have over 1000 CDs of recordings of classical music — including a few with Rattle conducting. But, sorry, I can’t think of any GREAT Rattle performance in my collection. Maybe I have missed something. Anyway, he is a superb publicist, and my congratulations to his PR manager.

    • IC225 says:

      You’ve got over 1000 CDs but have only heard one live concert from him. I think the reason why you’ve never heard a great Rattle performance might possibly be lurking somewhere between those two facts.

      Remember: recordings are not living music. They’re the equivalent of making love to a photograph. Rattle has always had higher priorities than gratifying armchair audiophiles.

      • HugoPreuß says:

        Or could it be that the poster lives far away from the places where Rattle usually conducts? I have way over 12.000 CDs, and I have heard Rattle live oncem just like the poster. I’d gladly add to that number if I can hear him anywhere reasonably close to where I live. Or somewhere I have to travel to anyway. If that is not gonna happen, I’ll do with orchestras and conductors within my reach. To call that behavior “armchair audiophile” is an uncalled for insult.

    • MacroV says:

      Four of my fondest live-music experiences were with Sir Simon:

      – Two concerts in Vienna with the CBSO – one night with Gubaidulina’s Offertorium and Birtwistle’s “Earth Dances,'” followed the next evening with Nicholas Maw’s Odyssey. As the NY Times said about an earlier CBSO/Rattle performance: We hear a lot of great orchestras making average music; nice in this case to hear an average orchestra making great music.

      – The BPO in Washington DC in 2003; it spoiled me for listening to the NSO for weeks afterward.

      – Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre in the Philharmonie.

      • John Borstlap says:

        ‘Making great music’? In Gubaidulina’s Offertorium there is a ‘solo’ for the conductor, who has to wave his arms in silence for a while. Birtwistle is sonic SM and Le Grand Macabre says it all in its title, with its beginning of an ‘Ouverture’ by car hooting.

        • MacroV says:

          I actually like the little I’ve heard of your music so I’ll refrain from any ad hominem comments.

          Let’s just say it was a nice departure from normal concerts, and appreciated the commitment of the performances. Glad you didn’t disrespect Nicholas Maw, though; those would be fighting words.

  • Drew Barnard says:

    Good for him. I mean, why not? Yes, Rattle wasn’t always the best in the Austro-German classics, but he is reasonably interesting in a wide range of music and capable of truly great performances, especially in modern rep. Yes, I think the Berlin Phil got an upgrade with Petrenko. But Rattle is demanded worldwide for a reason–he was hired by the LSO and now Bavarian Radio after leaving Berlin–and the idea that he’s some unmusical dolt is silly. Where is a bit of nuance here?

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is true. R is simply better in a particular repertoire, as any performer has his/her personal preferences and talents.

      On the other hand, one of the worst concerts I ever attended was with R and the BPO, embarking upon an atonal monstruosity by a German pretentious quasi-intellectual, after which the players could no longer get into the mood of Mahler IV. Intellectually, R is quite superficial and simply follows conformist ideas about music, which is regrettable. I admire his advocacy of Szymanowki however, at a time when in the West hardly anybody had any interest in that extraordinary music.

  • 5566hh says:

    He’s not ‘just’ a Sir (knight bachelor) in the UK. He has been appointed CBE and, more importantly, is a member of the prestigious Order of Merit (limited to a maximum of 24 members).

    • John Borstlap says:

      That order assumes that in the UK only a number of 24 people are capable of reaching a level of national merit, which shows how the reigning elite thinks about its population.

  • CRMH says:

    He is also one of the 24 members of the Order of Merit in the UK, the first ever conductor to be so honoured. Beecham, Boult, Davis, had to be content with the order of the Companions of Honour.

  • Paul Johnson says:

    And richly deserved too. The Tories uncultured Culture Secretary () was poorly advised when she publicly denigrated him. He’s moving orchestras from London to Germany because of Brexit, of which he was rightly outspoken.

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    This is brilliant news and good to read. I agree with those who complain about the contributions made by the saddos on here who are happy to criticise constantly. This is an open forum it is true, but the fact that Germany has recognised Rattle for what he has done for the culture of that country is entirely justified and is yet another sad reflection on just how crap things are in the UK where artistic talent is abused rather than truly encouraged and appreciated. He was one of very few artists who actually spoke out about the serious plight facing this country’s musicians at the start of the Pandemic. We are now living through quite evil times where so much negativity, lies from the powers that be, and aggression within social media seems to be the new normal. This is a piece of news celebrating one of the UK’s greatest musicians which we have lost and a country that truly recognises talent has gained. Are you reading, Nadine Dorries? Bravo, Sir Simon!

  • Jim (Wally) Adams says:

    Well done Simon!
    You are an exlempar extraordinaire of the British diaspora of which I must be a humble part.

  • Jim (Wally) Adams says:

    Google is misspelling me again!
    Please change a spelling to exemplar.

  • Jim (Wally) Adams says:

    The Queen is a dumbo who cannot hear anything apart from through an ear trumpet. She also voted in public for Brexit.

  • Jim (Wally) Adams says:

    Under the Queen, who ‘prefers’ this and that – this IS a death sentence to military men who disobey – is the Privy Council which enacts all laws. All members, e.g. Nicola Sturgeon, are members of Mi5. Hapless politicians obey this Entity.
    The very hap Boris The Johnson, like Hagar The Horrible, will be thrown in the river Thames.
    Simon Rattle must reach an accord with me toThrow The Conservative Party into Lake WINDEMERE!

  • Jim (Wally) Adams says:

    I have a good purpose also for Simon Rattle: to conduct The Gaza Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Schoenberg’s Kohl Nidre in Jerusalem!

  • Jim (Wally) Adams says:

    Another comment!
    What about performances of Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon and Pendericki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima by a Chinese Symphony Orchestra outside the White House and the Washington War Memorial?

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    Well, Mr. Wally has certainly gone for the record number of comments on one posting. As for Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon, I love it and whistle along every time I listen to it. As for throwing the Tory Party into Lake Windermere, that’s a brilliant idea.

  • Thomas says:

    Look at how cowards are honoured…. 😉