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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Rattle confirmed as Berlin conductor
Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon takes over the orchestra in September 2002
British orchestral conductor Sir Simon Rattle has been confirmed as the artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, ending months of wrangles over the prestigious appointment.

Berlin's culture minister Adrienne Goehler described Rattle as a "great successor" to Italy's Claudio Abbado, who took over from the legendary Herbert von Karajan in 1989.

"Rattle at the head of the orchestra will not only promise great artistic success, but also courageous musical concepts that will give a new pulse to the city of Berlin," said the minister.

Sir Simon will take up the orchestra's baton in September 2002.

Berlin's town hall
Berlin's town hall assured the orchestra's funding

The confirmation of the appointment came after a stand-off between the conductor and the Berlin city government over the funding of the orchestra and the salaries of musicians.

Sir Simon would not sign his contract until he received assurances of better pay for the orchestra's musicians - who are paid less than most of their German counterparts.

The conductor also supported those who were trying turn the orchestra into an independently run foundation, with more say over its own finances.

In July the Berlin Parliament passed the necessary laws to turn the orchestra into a foundation - and promised it more money.

Diverse

Sir Simon has been highly successful as the conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where he has worked since 1980.

He is seen as likely to break down the boundaries between traditional classical pieces and more diverse repertoires - which may mean less Brahms and Bruckner and more original performances from the Berlin Philharmonic.

Sir Simon was born in Liverpool in 1955, made a CBE in 1987 and knighted in 1994.

See also:

13 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Government rattles Sir Simon
07 Jun 01 | Europe
Berlin city coalition collapses
30 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Birmingham bids farewell to Rattle
15 Jun 01 | Music
Sir Colin Davis' musical honour
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