The Lativian conductor replaces Sakari Oramo, who joined the CBSO in 1998 as artistic adviser and was appointed music director the following year. Among Nelsons' other predecessors are Adrian Boult, Louis Fr_maux and Simon Rattle.
"He is a hugely impressive musician, with a really wide range of strengths in all kinds of repertoire," orchestra chief executive Stephen Maddock said in statement.
Currently the principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, Nelsons captivated the CBSO last month when he guest conducted a private concert at Birmingham's Town Hall and recorded Tchaikovsky's violin concerto with Baiba Skride for Sony/BMG Classics. "From the first rehearsal, the orchestra was very excited by Andris' artistic integrity, imagination, and charisma," said concertmaster Laurence Jackson.
Nelsons will make his first public performance with the CBSO at Birmingham's Symphony Hall in a free concert on November 11, performing Strauss's Don Juan and Dvoršk's New World Symphony.
Born in Riga in 1978, Nelsons is an accomplished singer and a former trumpeter of the Latvian National Opera Orchestra. He received the Latvian Grand Music Award in 2001, and after conducting studies with Alexander Titov in St. Petersburg, he began been studying privately with Mariss Jansons in 2002. Nelsons was also the principal conductor of the Latvian National Opera House from 2003-2007.