The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On (book) by Gareth Davies

On tour with the LSO in 1912 & 2012

The Show Must Go On cover

The Show Must Go On cover

Hardback book
Copies signed by Gareth Davies, exclusively available directly from the LSO.

LSO price: £10 + P&P
RRP: £14.99 + P&P

The LSO has only 500 copies, signed by Gareth Davies, to sell at this price!

A memoir of the London Symphony Orchestra on tour in the US and further afield, focusing on their historic first visit to America in 1912, when the were due to sail on the Titanic, and their most recent travels.

Gareth Davies, Principal Flute at the LSO, tells the remarkable story of a groundbreaking expedition through recently discovered diaries, archive material from London and New York and newspaper reports from the time.

Against this is set a behind-the-scenes account of the LSO's worldwide touring schedule, which finds that a surprising number of the same challenges remain. We join Gareth and his colleagues as they contend with airports, volcanoes, travel strikes, illness and even life and death situations.

As well as vivid descriptions of sitting centre stage, surrounded by music and working with the likes of Haitink, Gergiev and Sir Colin Davis, we get to glimpse into the backstage goings on and see into the mind of a professional musician as never before. Written by someone at the heart of the action, we follow the travels of two musicians, a century apart, in the same orchestra. The show does go on.

If you enjoy Gareth's LSO On Tour Blog, this book is for you!

Price: £10.00

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BBC Music Magazine, August 2013
'an ideal book for those of us who have wondered what it must be like to be an orchestral player...This deftly written, insightful and at time poignant travelogue deserves the widest circulation.'

Owen Toller

How an orchestra really works

Gareth Davies is Principal Flute of the London Symphony Orchestra and also author of a much-followed blog about the LSO on tour. This book collects some of his blog writings from 2012 and intersperses them with chapters describing the LSO’s first foreign tour, to the United States in 1912, based on diaries written by two of the members of the orchestra and also some of Mr Davies’s own research.

The result is something of a gem. For a start, Mr Davies writes marvellously, with an irreverent sense of humour. His description of one famous Russian pianist is characteristic: “dressed all in black, with very short white hair, looking not dissimilar to a pint of Guinness”. At the other end of the scale is his deeply moving reaction to the news of the death of his colleague Kieron Moore, put in the context of the oboe solo in the Brahms Violin Concerto. The frantic life of a musician on tour is well captured – in 1912 the players spent six weeks sleeping mainly in trains to save the promoter money; in 2012 the biggest problems are jet lag and transport delays due to weather.

But the most remarkable thing in the book is Mr Davies’s ability to describe exactly how the greatest conductors get their results. Many journalists and amateurs have tried to do this, and failed. As a top-class performing musician, working with the same team and different conductors from day to day, Mr Davies can readily hear the differences in sound, but he also has the observation and analytical skills to show how those differences arise from what the conductor says or, more often, does. In one magnificent page we see just how Bernard Haitink, opening Bruckner 4 with the LSO, obtains a unique and superlative sound – and this is followed by a hilarious contrast with how Gordan Nikolich, the LSO leader, gets results in a very different way. Valery Gergiev, the LSO’s Principal Conductor, is not universally liked by critics these days; they should read this book to see just why the LSO admire him so much.

It is inevitable that in a blog on the LSO’s website there is going to be very little criticism. Mr Davies is deeply generous to his fellow musicians; no trace of the stereotyped cynical old pro long bereft of any enthusiasm. But that is in fact one of the most remarkable characteristics of today’s LSO who as a whole show a huge respect for their conductors and soloists, as well as for each other.

There are a few examples of careless editorial work – the index seems to have been done in a hurry, several photos are all too obviously done on an i-phone and there is the usual crop of typos. But this book will bring pleasure and interest to anyone interested in orchestral music. More, please!


About the Author
Gareth Davies has been principal flute with the London Symphony Orchestra since 2000. He has travelled the world with most of the great conductors of our time such as Sir Colin Davis, Haitink, Gergiev, Maazel, Rattle, Rostropovitch, Previn and many others. He performs over 100 concerts a year and can be heard on hundreds of recordings with the LSO as well as some of the best loved film soundtracks such as Star Wars and Harry Potter. He has written articles for Classic FM Magazine and BBC Music Magazine and has been featured in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and FT. Novelist and music commentator Norman Lebrecht described his writing as 'the most impressive account of Mahler from the inside that I have ever read'.

Recording Details


Elliott & Thompson Limited


Hardback 256 pages

Postage & Packing prices
UK: £2.50
EU: £4.70
ROW: £6.85

Delivery methods & estimated times
UK: Royal Mail First Class - 1 to 3 days
EU: European Small Packets Airmail - 3 to 10 days
USA: Small Packets Airmail - 3 to 14 days
ROW: Small Packets Airmail - 5 to 20 days

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