Simon Rattle studied at the Royal Academy of Music.
From 1980 to 1998, Sir Simon was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was appointed Music Director in 1990. In 2002 he took up the position of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker where he remained until the end of the 2017-18 season. Sir Simon was appointed Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in September 2017, a position he remained in until the 2023-24 season when he became the orchestra’s Conductor Emeritus. In 2023-24, Sir Simon took up the position of Chief Conductor with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in Munich. He is a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Founding Patron of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
He has made over 70 recordings for EMI record label (now Warner Classics) and has received numerous prestigious international awards for his recordings on various labels. Releases on EMI include Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (which received a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance) Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortileges, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Rachmaninov’s The Bells and Symphonic Dances, all recorded with the Berliner Philharmoniker. His most recent recordings include Berlioz’ Le damnation de Faust, Helen Grime’s Woven Space, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande , Turnage’s Remembering, and Beethoven’s Christ on the Mountain of Olives, which were all released by the London Symphony Orchestra’s own record label, LSO Live.
He regularly tours within Europe, the United States and Asia, and has longstanding relationships with the world’s leading orchestras. He regularly conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin, Berliner Philharmoniker, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and the Czech Philharmonic. He has conducted opera productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and at the Festival d’Aix en Provence.
Music education is of supreme importance to Sir Simon, and his partnership with the Berliner Philiharmoniker broke new ground with the education programme Zukunft@Bphil, earning him the Comenius Prize, the Schiller Special Prize from the city of Mannheim, the Golden Camera and the Urania Medal. He and the Berliner Philharmoniker were also appointed International UNICEF Ambassadors in 2004 - the first time this honour has been conferred on an artistic ensemble. In 2019, he announced the creation of the LSO East London Academy, developed by the London Symphony Orchestra in partnership with 10 East London boroughs. This free program aims to identify and develop the potential of young East Londoners between the ages of 11 and 18 who show exceptional musical talent, irrespective of their background or financial circumstance.
He was awarded a knighthood by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 and received the Order of Merit in 2014. He received the Order of Merit in Berlin in 2018. In 2019, he was given the Freedom of the City of London.