Simon Rattle Berlin Contract Not Signed

Simon Rattle left a lot of yearning in the wake of his last visit to the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was a lovefest among musicians, the British conductor, audiences and, I might add, the critics. Why can't he be music director here? Board members are parroting the usual line: he's got a contract with the Berlin Philharmonic.

While it's certainly true he's music director of that orchestra, and that his future in Berlin was affirmed publicly a year ago, it's interesting to note that the Philharmonic has been expecting a signed contract for some time - and that a signed contract it does not have.

Various representatives of the Philharmonic and Rattle have predicted a succession of dates for having a signed deal. The latest was the end of the calendar year - as in six months ago.

And so last week I once again posed the question to a spokeswoman for the Philharmonic: Does the Berlin Philharmonic have a signed contract with Rattle?

"Not yet," the response came this morning. "But should be done by end of this season (June)."

Does Rattle have some other idea up his sleeve? Is he negotiating something else he wants in Berlin? Or keeping his options open for Philadelphia?

Conductors are mysterious creatures with complex needs. I hope every musician and board member of the Philadelphia Orchestra understands this. And that it's not over until it's over.