Andrew Davis

'Oh, Sir Andrew Davis has died. How sad. A wonderful musician, longtime Music Director of the Toronto Symphony; did so much for music in Canada and everywhere.  We last played together in February '23 in Manchester. He was not well, but when he conducted it was full of life and precision.' - pianist Angela Hewitt

'Thought of him a lot while orchestrating the Violin Concerto, even more so when he withdrew from the world premiere a month ago with violinist Esther Yoo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. But I wasn't prepared for the news this morning. He was such an extraordinary human. Rest now, Maestro.' - composer Raymond Yiu

'So very saddened to hear of the passing of conductor Sir Andrew Davis. I knew him and worked with him when he conducted the ⁦Toronto Symphony⁩ and later here also with the ⁦Minnesota Orchestra.⁩ He had a great wit and love of music.' - cellist Janet Horvath

'RIP. An absolute giant & important supporter of so much British contemporary music. His period at the BBC Symphony Orchestra was full of good things.' - composer Thomas Hyde

'Totally heartbroken to hear of the death of Andrew Davis. So many memories of performances all over the world, recording sessions and numerous hilarious meals. Irreplaceable musician whom I will miss always. Rest in Peace, Maestro.' - violinist Tasmin Little

'Sad to hear of the passing of Sir Andrew Davis who I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford in 2018. He was so taken with my print that he had one for his apartment in Chicago.' - photographer Michael Whitefoot

Andrew Davis (1944-2024) at his Chicago home in 2022 with his framed print of Michael Whitefoot's photo from the 2018 Hereford Three Choirs Festival
Andrew Davis (1944-2024) at his Chicago home in 2022 with his framed print of Michael Whitefoot's photo from the 2018 Hereford Three Choirs Festival


The well-known and much honoured English conductor Andrew Davis was born in Ashridge, Hertfordshire on 2 February 1944 and grew up in Chesham, Buckinghamshire and in Watford. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London, was an organ scholar at King's College Cambridge, and studied conducting in Rome with Franco Ferrara.

He began his career as associate conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and then was music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1975-1988). From 1988 until 2000 he was music director at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and from 1989 until 2000 he was chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, where he was known for his humorous Last Night of the Proms speeches. (One year he sang part of his speech.)

He moved with his family to the USA, settling in Chicago. From 2000 until 2021 he was music director and principal conductor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was music advisor to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2005-2007). From 2013 until 2019 he was chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

His repertoire was wide-ranging, and he conducted many other orchestras and also recorded widely, including much British music, notably by Michael Tippett, but also Finzi and Vaughan Williams, for labels including Chandos, Deutsche Grammophon, NMC Recordings and Teldec.

Andrew Davis rehearsing at the Hereford Three Choirs Festival. Photo © 2018 Michael Whitefoot
Andrew Davis rehearsing at the Hereford Three Choirs Festival.
Photo © 2018 Michael Whitefoot


Andrew Davis was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2023 and died in Chicago on Saturday 20 April 2024, aged eighty.


A selection of articles about Andrew Davis

Classical music news - April 2024 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month

Spotlight. A Real Find - Geoff Pearce urges you to listen to this recording of Tippett's 'A Child of Our Time'. '... something very special indeed.'

Classical music news - Jess Gillam - The British saxophonist and her ensemble join Intermusica Artists' Management Ltd

Spotlight. Superb Playing - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by Stravinsky. '... consistently transparent and intensely alive.'

CD Spotlight. Some Delicious Playing - Geoff Pearce listens to Stravinsky. 'The BBC Philharmonic's performance is fine indeed ...'

CD Spotlight. Fascinating Listening - Music by Alban Berg, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... the BBC Symphony Orchestra is on top form ...'

Ensemble. Beethoven Summitry - Paul Lewis' high altitude performance dazzles his Chicago audience, reported by Barbara Sealock

Ensemble. A Musical and Social Bonanza - Roderic Dunnett continues his in-depth review of this year's Three Choirs Festival in Hereford

Ensemble. A Natural Assurance - Monteverdi and Elgar from the Three Choirs Festival at Hereford impress Roderic Dunnett

Ensemble. Highly Successful - Roderic Dunnett looks back to Worcester's 2014 Three Choirs Festival, and forward to Hereford's Festival in July 2015

CD Spotlight. Musical Spirit - Berlioz overtures, heard by Howard Smith. '... commendable intuition and skillfulness ...'

Ensemble. Extremely Close - The Grand Finals Concert of New York Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions, reviewed by Gregory Moomjy

Ensemble. Rapturous Beauty - Richard Strauss's 'Capriccio', reviewed by Maria Nockin

Profile. The State of the Art - Maria Nockin talks to soprano Christine Brewer

Ensemble. A Special Performance - Beethoven and Brahms from Pittsburgh, enjoyed by Kelly Ferjutz

Ensemble. Great music making - Cheers for a riveting Canadian dance company at Jacob's Pillow and more music from Tanglewood, reported by Lawrence Budmen

Ensemble. Superb performances - Alsop triumphs at Tanglewood, by Lawrence Budmen