Sir Simon Rattle to quit Berlin Philharmonic in 2018
Sir Simon Rattle has announced that he will leave as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra after his contract expires in 2018.
The British conductor, who joined the orchestra in 2002, admitted it had not been an "easy decision".
"In 2018 I will be nearly 64 years old," he said.
"As a Liverpool boy, it is impossible not to think of the Beatles' question, 'Will you still need me.., when I'm 64?'"
The 57-year-old conductor went on: "I am sure that then it will be time for somebody else to take on the magnificent challenge that is the Berliner Philharmoniker.
"This was not an easy decision. I love this orchestra and therefore wanted to tell them my decision as early as possible.
"I deeply hope that this will give them enough time to start new plans. I look forward with great pleasure to our next five years together and hopefully many years afterwards."
Martin Hoffmann, the orchestra's general manager said it was "very sad news" for the orchestra and the city of Berlin. But he said he had "great respect" for Sir Simon's decision.
"With his outstanding musicality and creativity he has filled new listeners with enthusiasm for the orchestra every day and has shaped the national and international perception of the Berliner Philharmoniker as a vital cultural ambassador for Berlin," he said.
Sir Simon was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He made his Proms debut in 1976 and his opera debut in 1977 at the Glyndebourne Festival.
Between 1980 and 1998, he led the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He was knighted in 1994.
Sir Simon appeared at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony when he and the London Symphony Orchestra were upstaged by Mr Bean while playing Chariots of Fire.