Simon Rattle decries Brexit as he applies for German citizenship

By Reuters in Berlin

The conductor Simon Rattle, who announced this week that he was cutting short his tenure at Britain’s leading orchestra to return to Germany, has applied for German citizenship after Brexit.

The Liverpool-born musician lamented the barriers thrown up by Britain’s departure from the European Union to the careers of young musicians who had grown used to performing freely to the continent’s music-hungry public.

“My passport is on the way,” Rattle told a news conference on Friday, when asked if he had followed many EU-based Britons in applying for citizenship that will let them continue to work freely around the bloc. “Like for many, this was an absolute necessity.”

Britain’s classical music scene was taken by surprise when Rattle announced he would end his tenure at the London Symphony Orchestra in 2023 to become music director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich.

Rattle said his decision to return to Germany, where he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic for 16 years, was taken so he could be close to his family in the German capital, but he made his frustration with Britain’s political direction clear.

“The fact that musicians and artists in general suddenly have to get visas for Europe is absolutely not the Brexit bonus we were talking about,” he said. “We will have to fight it.”

Rattle, who lives with his wife, the Czech soprano Magdalena Kožená, in Berlin, said spending more time there and cooking for their children during the past year of coronavirus lockdown had helped to crystallise his desire to work nearer to home.