He came to worldwide attention as the chief conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where he was employed for a full 18 years, then came 16 glorious years with the Berlin Philharmonic (2002–2018; artistic director and chief conductor) and six years with the London Symphony Orchestra. He opened the 2023/2024 season as chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
His long-term cooperation with the Czech Philharmonic led to his appointment together with his wife, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, as Artist-in-Residence for the 2022/2023 season. At several concerts with the Czech Philharmonic, he has performed a number of symphonic works and, notably, compositions for voices and orchestra from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the repertoire for which Rattle has been the most acclaimed.
He has signed a five-year contract with the orchestra, and the words “Rafael Kubelík Chair” have been added to his title at his request and with the consent of the Kubelík family.