Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
For some years Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, in 1980 he became Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, stepping up to Music Director from September 1990 until August 1998. He is also Founding Patron of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and since the early 1990s, has been a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. As guest conductor, he appeared regularly in the United States, London and Europe, with close links to a number of orchestras most notably with the Vienna Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestras.
In September 2002 he became Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker and Music Director of the Osterfestspiele Salzburg, where staged productions have included ‘Cosi’, ‘Peter Grimes’ and ‘Pelléas et Mélisande’ and 'Der Ring des Nibelungen'. He leads regular Berliner Philharmoniker tours in Europe, North America and the Far East and has recently conducted the complete Ring Cycle for the Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Easter Festivals. Forthcoming opera also includes Staatsoper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.