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Media & TelecomBritish maestro Rattle seeking German citizenship after Brexit

Thomas Escritt
2 minutes read

Conductor Simon Rattle takes part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Star conductor Simon Rattle, who this week announced he was cutting short his tenure at Britain's leading orchestra to return to Germany, said on Friday he had applied for German citizenship after Brexit.

The Liverpool-born musician, 65, 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 when asked if he had followed many EU-based Britons in applying for the citizenship that will let them continue to work freely around the bloc. "Like for many, this was an absolute necessity."

Britain's 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 for 16 years he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic, was taken so that 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, in apparent reference to promises made by Brexit campaigners during the 2016 EU membership referendum. "We will have to fight it."

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

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