Carl Davis

American composer and conductor Carl Davis was born in New York City to Jewish parents on 28 October 1936. He studied composition with Hugo Kauder and Paul Nordoff then later with Per Nørgard in Denmark.

Davis was co-author of the successful reivew Diversions (1959) which later appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in the UK in 1961, and as a result he began to receive commisions for radio and TV music in the UK. He moved to London in 1960. He wrote music for over a hundred TV programmes, but also composed film, ballet and concert music. In 1991 he collaborated with Paul McCartney to produce the Liverpool Oratorio, and he was later commissioned by the Halle Orchestra to write Last Train to Tomorrow, based on the pre-World War II Kindertransport rescue story, which was performed in Manchester, Prague and London.


Carl Davis (1936-2023)
Carl Davis (1936-2023)


From the 1970s onwards he began to write music for silent films, and this grew into a passion over the following decades. He often conducted his own music for these films, and gave a series of live performances in cinemas and concert halls whilst the films were screened. In 2009 he created his own record label, The Carl Davis Collection.

Carl Davis died on 3 August 2023, aged eighty-six.


A selection of articles about Carl Davis

Classical music news - August 2023 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month