Sir. Simon Rattle Names Principal Guest Conductor of Czech Philharmonic

By Francisco Salazar

Sir Simon Rattle has been appointed the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. He will hold the title “Rafael Kubelik Chair” from the 2024-25 season.

Rattle signed an initial five-year contract with the orchestra, and the words “Rafael Kubelík Chair” have been added to his title at his request and with the consent of the Kubelík family.

In a statement, Rattle said, “My relationship with the Czech Philharmonic began already when I was eight or nine years old. My parents gave me pocket money so I could buy recordings, and I dug into the Supraphon catalogue. That was really interesting, and the recordings in it were sometimes cheaper that those made by Western companies. That was when I discovered how unique the orchestra sounds, and especially the character of the woodwinds and the special quality of the strings. I felt like I had grown up with the Czech Philharmonic. Particularly crucial for me were the recordings of Karel Ančerl, which became a part of my artistic growth. But it was many years before I conducted that orchestra for the first time. And when that finally happened in 2019, it seemed terribly natural to me, as if I had had been standing before it since time immemorial. I fell in love with their cordiality and with their typically Czech dark humour. I instantly felt connected to the players, and I told myself: this is truly worthwhile. Already at the first rehearsal of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, it was clear to me that I would want to remain in some way. Mahler must have had that sound in his ears when he wrote his symphonies. I realised right away that I want to be on the podium with these musicians, and the subsequent years when I returned to the orchestra have just confirmed that.”

Rattle has been the Chief Conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestra. He has also held the position at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Throughout his career, Rattle has collaborated with the Czech Philharmonic on numerous occasions performing 19th and early 20th century works.