Radio France, which funds and operates the ONF, announced the appointment on July 18.
A 45-year-old native of Milan, Gatti is currently principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, a post from which he steps down in September 2009. Last month he completed a ten-year term as music director of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, one of Italy's top opera houses.
Gatti has also served as music director of Rome's Accademia nazionale di Santa Cecilia (1992-97) and principal guest conductor at the Royal Opera House in London (1994-97). He has performed with many other prestigious orchestras and opera companies, among them the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, the Vienna State Opera and La Scala.
In Paris, Gatti succeeds Kurt Masur, who took the post in 2002 and will become ONF conductor laureate. Masur — who was music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1991 to 2002 and earned his high reputation as chief conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1970 to 1996 — steps down from his other major post, as principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, this coming September after seven seasons. (Vladimir Jurowski will take over that position.)
Last week Masur spent his 80th birthday on the podium, conducting the ONF and the London Philharmonic together in a BBC Prom Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.