As the chief conductor and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle holds one of the most prestigious and coveted jobs in the world of conducting. The English maestro, who joined the venerated orchestra in 2002, has announced that he will step down from the post in summer 2018.
Rattle, 57, hails from Liverpool and made a reference to the Beatles in a statement published Thursday on the orchestra's website: "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."
A statement from orchestra leaders said that they "regret Simon Rattle's decision not to continue as artistic director.... At the same time, we respect his personal decision." No successor has been announced yet.
Rattle previously led the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in England. He continues to make guest-conducting appearances around the world. In May, he appeared at Walt Disney Concert Hall to lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program that included Bruckner's Symphony No. 9.
Rattle traveled with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2009 to L.A. to perform at Disney Hall. That same year, the German orchestra announced that Rattle had signed a contract to continue in his role as artistic director through 2018.
Previous conductors of the Berlin Philharmonic include Claudio Abbado, Herbert von Karajan and Wilhelm Furtwängler.
Rattle has conducted frequently in Southern California. He served as the principal guest conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic from 1981 to 1994.