‘In 2018 I will have been with the orchestra for 16 years,’ said Rattle. ‘Before this I was chief conductor in Birmingham for 18 years. In 2018 I will be nearly 64 years old. As a Liverpool boy, it is impossible not to think of the Beatles’ question, “Will you still need me...when I’m 64?” and I am sure that then it will be time for somebody else to take on the magnificent challenge that is the Berliner Philharmoniker.
‘This was not an easy decision. I love this orchestra and therefore wanted to tell them my decision as early as possible. I deeply hope that this will give them enough time to start new plans. I look forward with great pleasure to our next five years together and hopefully many years afterwards. I am thankful for the time that we have spent together so far.’
The orchestra's general manager Martin Hoffmann commented: ‘This is very sad news for the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation and the city of Berlin. I have great respect for Sir Simon Rattle’s decision. With his outstanding musicality and creativity he has filled new listeners with enthusiasm for the orchestra every day and has shaped the national and international perception of the Berliner Philharmoniker as a vital cultural ambassador for Berlin. I look forward to our future collaboration on behalf of the orchestra and the Foundation.’