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Colin Davis (Sir)

Colin Davis (Sir)

(Born 1927- 15th April 2013)


Sir Colin Davis was an English conductor with a very broad repertoire.

Originally a clarinetist he made the transition to conductor during the period 1949- 1957 and since then he worked with such orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Sadler's Wells Opera, the Royal Opera House orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Dresden Staatskapelle, among many others.

He particularly favoured the works of Hector Berlioz.

Davis first came to prominence when he stood in for an ill Otto Klemperer in a performance of Don Giovanni, at the Royal Festival Hall in 1959.
A year later, he stood in for Sir Thomas Beecham conducting The Magic Flute at Glyndebourne.

Davis was known for being volatile with a short fuse in rehearsals, and his departure from Sadler's Wells in 1965 was not without a certain ammount of well publicised acrimony.

He went on as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, until Sir David Webster, director of the Royal Opera companies at Covent Garden, invited him to succeed Georg Solti as principal conductor.

Initially it was a controversial appointment with booing being heard during performances. After a "disastrous" Nabucco in 1971, and his Wagner's Ring not being well received, he achieved some notable successes. Among them, Berlioz's, "Les Troyens" Verdi's "Falstaff", and all the major Mozart operas,

His eventual acceptance as a leading Britten and Stravinsky interpreter" with productions of Peter Grimes and The Rake's Progress followed.

Davis conducted more than 30 operas during his fifteen-year tenure, conductiong many major operas, including Ariadne Auf Naxos and Elektra. He also conducted a number of modern productions including the atonal modern works such as Lulu and Wozzeck.

During his Covent Garden tenure, Colin Davis was also principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra until 1975 and in 1977 he became the first English conductor to conduct at Bayreuth, with a performance of Tannhäuser which was highly successful.

He debuted at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1967, the Vienna State Opera in 1986 and the Bavarian State Opera in 1994.

In recent years he has served as the president of the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) and their project to release budget priced live recordings.

Their releases include Fidelio, a wide range of the works of Berlioz (including a second recording of Les Troyens) La Damnation de Faust, Roméo et Juliette, Béatrice et Bénédict, Harold en Italie, Peter Grimes, Falstaff, Otello and a wide range of symphonic works.

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