BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 mark the 60th birthday of Sir Simon Rattle, one of Britain’s best-loved and greatest living conductors, with a month of special programming across January and February 2015.
A major new BBC Two documentary Simon Rattle: The Making of a Maestro (Saturday 14 February), the first television biography of the British conductor for 15 years, charts Rattle’s formidable career spanning four decades through new and archive footage and an in-depth interview with the maestro himself. The documentary follows the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker for a year, gaining unrivalled insights and access into the life of a world-beating conductor. Simon Rattle: The Making of a Maestro follows a remarkable journey. It shows Rattle talking candidly about his life and beliefs with contributions from artists and friends who have worked closely with him including violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, composer Thomas Adès, singers Roderick Williams, Mark Padmore, director Peter Sellars and Managing Director of the Barbican, Sir Nicholas Kenyon.
BBC Arts Online (bbc.co.uk/arts) will also feature an extended interview with Rattle drawn from the documentary, and a film archive collection which charts Rattle’s career as documented by the BBC and his significant creative commitment to television as a medium for drawing a new audience to classical music.
BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four broadcast Rattle’s upcoming major London Residency with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Barbican and Southbank Centre in February 2015. BBC Radio 3’s Live in Concert broadcasts Rattle conducting the complete Sibelius symphony cycle in the 150th anniversary year of the composer’s birth (Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11 & Thursday 12 February – Barbican), Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’ and Helmut Lachenmann’s Tableau (Saturday 14 February – Southbank Centre). As part of the BBC Arts initiative to bring significant cultural events from the greatest cultural venues to audiences, presenter Kirsty Wark hosts a BBC Four broadcast of Rattle conducting Sibelius’ Symphonies 5, 6 & 7 (recorded at the Barbican on 12 February) on Sunday 15 February, and Sibelius’s Symphonies 1, 2, 3 & 4 (recorded at the Barbican on 10 & 11 February) will be available on BBC iPlayer.
Previously unheard archive recordings of Rattle conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra twenty years ago are broadcast for the first time on BBC Radio 3 across Rattle’s birthday week (Monday 19 – Friday 23 January). Listeners will be the first to hear the recordings when they are broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s In Concert, presented by Tom Service. Recorded over five days at the Alte Oper Frankfurt in the autumn of 1995, listeners have the opportunity to hear Rattle conducting his first ever Beethoven symphony cycle with the orchestra he led for eighteen years. A unique record of one of the great partnerships between conductor and orchestra in British music, the recordings also include Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio, his Leonore Overtures Nos 1 & 2 and the Funeral March forLeonore Prohaska.
Other highlights include BBC Radio 3’s Essential Classics featuring Rattle as its Artist of the Week (Monday 19 – Friday 23 January) and BBC Radio 3’s Through the Night offers the chance to listen again to Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker presenting Peter Sellars’ staging of Bach’s St Matthew Passion for the first time in the UK at the BBC Proms 2014 (Sunday 18 January).