NEW: Composers Daniel Schorno and John Dante Prevedini discuss creativity, innovation and re-invention with Maria Nockin, Mary Mogil, Giuseppe Pennisi and Roderic Dunnett in our hour-long April 2021 video.
The much-honoured English conductor Colin Davis was born in Weybridge on 25 September 1927 into a musical family. He studied at Christ's Hospital and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, studying clarinet with Frederick Thurston, and then, for his military service, playing clarinet in the band of the Household Cavalry, stationed at Windsor.
Davis then worked as a freelance conductor from 1949 until 1957 with the Kalmar Orchestra, Chelsea Opera Group and the Original Ballet Russe. In 1957 he became assistant conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra, and in 1959 depped for an ailing Otto Klemperer, conducting Don Giovanni at the Royal Festival Hall.
The following year, when Thomas Beecham was taken ill, Davis took over a performance of The Magic Flute at Glyndebourne (on which he had already been collaborating with Beecham). Davis made his debut at the Henry Wood Proms the same year, conducting Britten, Schumann, Mozart and Berlioz, and also became chief conductor at Sadler's Wells Opera.
From Sadler's Wells he moved to the BBC Symphony Orchestra, struggling for acceptance at the Proms following Malcolm Sargent.
In 1970 Davis succeeded Georg Solti as principal conductor at Covent Garden, turning down the musical directorship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and remaining with the Royal Opera for fifteen years. Whilst at Covent Garden he guest conducted with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian State Opera, New York Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and at Bayreuth.
From 1995 until 2006, Davis was principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, after which he became the orchestra's president (following Arthur Bliss, William Walton, Karl Böhm and Leonard Bernstein).
Colin Davis died on 14 April 2013, aged eighty-five.
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