Sir Colin Davis 1927 – 2013

The Conductor and FCMG President Sir Colin Davis has died at the age of 85.

Sir Colin Davis, CH, CBE was an English conductor and was President of FCMG since 1997. His repertoire was broad, but among the composers with whom he is particularly associated are Mozart, Berlioz, Elgar, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Tippett and of course Britten. FCMG performed under him several times, most recently in 2004 at the BBC Proms where he conducted Britten’s War Requiem.

Born in Weybridge on 25 September 1927, Sir Colin studied clarinet at the Royal College of Music, going on to play in the band of the Household Cavalry during his military service.

He began his conducting career as assistant conductor with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 1957, before moving to Sadlers Wells in 1959 as principal conductor and later as musical director.

He became chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1967 and music director of the Royal Opera House in 1971. Sir Colin conducted the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra between 1983 and 1992.

He was the LSO’s principal conductor between 1995 to 2006 and became its president in 2007.

He has also been principal guest conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic and in 1990 became honorary conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle.

As a teacher, Davis held posts at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Carl Maria von Weber High School of Music in Dresden. He made his first gramophone recordings in 1958, and his discography built up in the succeeding five decades is extensive, with a large number of studio recordings for Philips Records and an extensive catalogue of live recordings for the London Symphony Orchestra’s own label.

Knighted in 1980, Sir Colin was awarded international honours by Denmark, Italy, France, Germany and Finland. He became a Companion of Honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2001 and received The Queen’s Medal for Music in December 2009.

Past FCMG Presidents include Malcolm Williamson, Oliver Knussen, Sir Peter Pears, Benjamin Britten and Dr Eric Thinman.

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