Berlin Philharmonic votes Kirill Petrenko as chief conductor

Russian to replace Simon Rattle in 2018 as Briton moves to London Symphony Orchestra

The Berlin Philharmonic has picked Kirill Petrenko, a 43-year-old Russian who is music director at the Bavarian State Opera, to become its chief conductor and artistic director when Simon Rattle leaves the storied post in 2018.

Mr Petrenko, who emigrated to Austria with his family when he was a teenager, joins an elite group of conductors who have led the Philharmonic, one of the world’s most renowned orchestras.

Speculation about who would succeed Mr Rattle has been a hot topic in the world of classical music since the Briton, who has held the post since 2002, announced earlier this year that he would be moving to the London Symphony Orchestra.

Euphoria and joy

An attempt last month by the Philharmonic’s 124 members to elect a new director failed after 11 hours of voting.


“One can’t put into words what I am feeling, from euphoria and joy to awe and doubt, there is everything,” Mr Petrenko said, confirming he had accepted the post.

Mr Rattle said: “I have admired Kirill Petrenko for years and am very happy that he is to succeed me at this wonderful orchestra.”

Founded in 1882, the Berlin Philharmonic has attracted some of the world’s most legendary conductors.

Wilhelm Furtwaengler led it from 1922 until 1934 and from 1952 until his death in 1954. He was succeeded by Herbert von Karajan, who was in charge until 1989. Since then it has had only three chief conductors. Mr Rattle is due to take over the London Symphony Orchestra from 2017 but as his contract in Berlin runs until August 2018, there may be a period when he combines the two roles.

Mr Petrenko has led the Bavarian State Opera since 2013. From 2002 to 2007 he worked in Berlin, running the Komische Oper. – (Reuters)