Petrenko becomes the new director of Berlin Philharmonic

Kirill Petrenko is elected as new chief conductor and artistic director for Berlin Philharmonic

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Berlin Philharmonic has picked Kirill Petrenko, general music director at the Bavarian State Opera, to become its next artistic director and chief conductor, according to German media reports.

Petrenko, a 43-year-old Russian who emigrated to Austria with his family when he was a teenager, would succeed Briton Simon Rattle in 2018, becoming one of an elite group of directors to lead the Philharmonic, one of the world's leading orchestras.

Speculation about who would succeed Rattle has been a hot topic in Germany and in music circles around the world for months. Six weeks ago, an attempt by the orchestra's 124 members to elect a new director failed after 11 hours of fruitless voting rounds.

The Berlin Philharmonic would not confirm the appointment of Petrenko but a spokeswoman said a news conference is planned for Monday afternoon.

Founded in 1882, the Berlin Philharmonic has attracted some of the world's most famous 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.

Rattle, who has led the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, is due to take over the London Symphony Orchestra from 2017. His contract in Berlin runs until 2018, so there may be a period when he combines the two roles.

Petrenko, at the Bavarian State Opera since 2013, has worked before in Berlin, running the Komische Oper (Comic Opera) from 2002 to 2007.