Obituary: Sir Colin Davis (1927–2013)

Ronald Stein

Deeply sad note that Sir Colin Davis died yesterday. Together with Martin Lovett, of the Amadeus Quartet, a family friend, the 3 of us, all 85’ers, started our different careers at the same time, he being a clarinettist in the New Symphony Orchestra, and who I never sketched till last year!


Louis Solomons

I am an avid fan of classical music, and I also try to get to concerts when my schedule allows. I am a big supporter of Sir Colin Davis, and particularly his admiration for Sibelius and Mozart. When he had something to say through his conducting, he knew how to say it. Always ready to give his all, he gave the world performances which were first class!


Sir Colin, you will be sorely missed!


Sharon Eckman

I was privileged to sing with Sir Colin on many occasions when I was with the London Symphony Chorus. Indelible, inspirational memories of a truly great conductor and a funny, warm, human being. RIP.


Sara James

I sang with the Chorus in the '70s and two of the absolute highlights of that time for me were the ten days we spent performing twice, and recording at Walthamstow Town Hall, the Missa Solemnis (lager for the chorus for the breaks in recording kindly provided by Sir Colin!) and a further ten days in the summer of 1976 when we alternated rehearsals and performances of the Grande Messe des Morts in St Paul's Cathedral for the City of London Festival and the Missa Solemnis for the First Night of the Proms, a performance Sir Colin had taken over at short notice on the death of Kempe on condition, I believe, that as many members of the LSC as could be fitted on the stage of the RAH should be added to the forces already engaged. Inspirational - may he rest in peace.


Susi Woodhouse

Sir Colin's music-making has been a huge part of my musical life: always life-affirming, always enriching, always a privilege and the deepest pleasure. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts go out to his family and the LSO.


Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Everyone at the Guildhall School is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Sir Colin Davis. Sir Colin was an immensely good friend to the School over many years. His work ranged from regular concerts with our Symphony Orchestra to informal drop-ins to coaching string quartets. He gave of his time freely and generously, and was enormously caring and supportive in his mentoring of young players. He also kindly agreed to be President of the Board of Patrons for the fundraising campaign for Milton Court, the School’s new building. To work so intimately with a world-class artist of such renown was a source of constant artistic inspiration and delight to staff and students alike. He will be greatly missed.


Margaret Steinitz & London Bach Society

With everlasting thanks for Sir Colin's memorable performances, especially of Mozart and Berlioz, his support for young musicians and the welfare of our profession. Our condolences to Sir Colin's family, friends and musical associates at this time.


Elinor Fletcher

I have known his name since I was eighteen and lived in the UK and went to several concerts he conducted as a young man. Condolences to his close family. I hope he knew how important his life was for the continuation of classical music. I have lived in South Africa for the last twenty years and often think of the performances I saw when younger. It is not so easy to hear good music as in London so I appreaciate what he did even more.


Angelica Kaufmann

From my grandfather, we always had one of his performances playing at home. We still do. I can hardly think of anything as moving and elegant as his directing of Elgar. Thank You Sir Colin.


Andrew Cornish

A tremendous loss. Sir Colin Davis has been an instrumental part of musical life in Britain for over fifty years. He'll be sadly missed.


Vicki Laws

Whilst studying in my final year at the RAM in 1997, I had the great honour of being part of a production of Cosi fan Tutte, directed by Sir Colin Davis.

I have been lucky enough to experience many musical Mozart moments during my performance career since graduating and moving abroad - but the production with Sir Colin is the one which has always stuck out in my mind.

He taught me how Mozart could and should sound - and I don't think it's ever sounded the same way since for me. He set a musical mould that has been hard to find elsewhere.

Thank you for that Sir Colin. Your musical legacy will continue to live on in all the musicians, like myself, who your life touched, however briefly.



Enrique Garcia Revilla

From Burgos, Spain. If only I could say thank you to the master, in the name of so many berliozians.


David Trainer

Sir Colin's Berlioz, Mozart and Elgar are breathtaking in their sincerity and honest approach. What a treasure that Britain can be very proud. Vale, Sir Colin, you are greatly missed the world over.



I am so sorry to hear about your Conductor Sir Colin Davis 'Passing away'

Thinking of you all today.


Guillermo Troncoso

I have just heard about Sir Colin Davis death. Please accept my sincere condoleances. I will always remember his great conducting and his very human approach to music. May he rest in peace.


Micheal Jacob

From the LPs of Beatrice and Benedict with the Chelsea Opera Group onwards, Colin Davis has been a central figure in my musical life. We are fortunate to have such a rich recorded legacy. He will be very greatly missed, and my thoughts are with his family and the players with whom he worked over so many years.


Michele Pertusi

Il mondo della musica perde un grande direttore e soprattutto un grande uomo a cui sarò sempre grato per le indimenticabili esperienze vissute insieme: Roméo et Juliette, Damnation de Faust (Berlioz) e Falstaff (Verdi). Il mio cordoglio personale unito a quello dei miei cari giunga alla sua famiglia che stringo in un ideale fraterno abbraccio. Addolorato e commosso dico solo Grazie Maestro!


Michael Sayers

I remember he came down to conduct a Saturday evening concert at The Dome in Brighton. He would have been rehearsing earlier in the day and was probably tired after the concert, but instead of rushing off home to London, he came and chatted to us young members of the Brighton Philharmonic Society for over an hour. We know he was a great musician, but he was also a very nice bloke.


Alice Aza

My deepest condolences to his family and friends,

a great musician, a humble man, will be greatly missed.


Charis Dunn

A wonderful farewell to a talented musician and dear soul. Old Blue, great conductor and fine example of a man who led the orchestra with no sense of arrogance.


Jan Oslislo

(radio eM - POLAND)

We are remembering you and honoring the memory of great conductor Sir Colin Davies.


Tom Rodda

Thank you Sir Colin. I saw you conduct on many occasions, and was fortunate enough to have played under you whilst studying at the Royal Academy. Thank you for the inspiration, energy, and memories. My deepest condolences to your family and loved ones. RIP.


Maggie Harvey

He will be sorely missed by all music fans. And such a lovely man.


Renato Bartoli

R.I.P. Maestro!


Tom Torley and Derek Holland (Friends of the LSO)

We would both like to express our condolences to Sir Colin's family and our thoughts are with them at this time.Sir Colin Davis was a great conductor and a great man. His total lack of ego and his selfless devotion to Music and musicians especially the young was an example to all. Our condolences also go to the LSO who enjoyed one of their greatest periods during his long period as their conductor.I was first inspired by him in the early 70s at the Proms and Tom, now aged 15 feels greatly privileged to have heard him in his last year of concert giving, a memory that will live with him forever.Sir Colin is simply irreplaceable. He was simply one of the greatest conductors of all time. We would take comfort however with the thought that we have such a wonderful legacy of recordings to cherish forever some of the very finest being on the LSO live label that he did so much to encourage at a difficult time in the recording industry. These recordings will inspire mus

ic lovers so long as there is Music on the Earth and in this way his legacy will live on forever.



We heard Sir Colin Davis many times at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and at The Royal Festival Hall in London. Some of these concerts were unforgettable. One concert stands out: Elgar's 2nd symphony with The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Sir Colin was a charming gentleman. He will be sorely missed. My heartfelt condolences for his family.


Christoph Graschitz

Very sad news. I heard Sir Colin conducting Haydn's music in Eisenstadt more than 20 years ago and for me this is still an unforgettable musical experience. And I think music lovers cannot thank him enough for what he has done for the appreciation of the works of Berlioz.


Peter Gambie


Southampton Choral Society

The Renaissance Choir

A great loss to both humanity and the world of classical music. A truly inspirational man whose music-making reached and inspired millions.

He also inspired countless numbers of musicians, both players and conductors, with his integrity and insight.


Jose M. Rebes

Sad to know that Sir Colin Davis passed away. My condolences to his family and friends, RIP.


Andrew Barrow

I am greatly saddened by the death of Sir Colin. A fine human being by all accounts and a wonderful musician. Musical life everywhere will be diminshed by his passing. I will be playing one of his recordings of the Sibelius 7 tonight as my own small commemoration.


Jane Morley

Sir Colin was an inspiration and a joy who'll be greatly missed by everyone who had the good fortune to make music with him. The world is a poorer place without him. RIP.


Balraj Takhar

His legacy will remain in the wealth of his wonderful recordings, many of which are in my library. Favourites being his intepretations of Tippett and the Mozart Violin Concertos with Arthur Grumiaux.


And it will shine brightly in the memories of those who turned up to his concert performances with the LSO and at the ROH.


The departure of this musical titan is a huge loss to the classical music community.


Sincerest condolences to the Davis family and his other family the LSO. RIP.


Jane Higgins

Thank you Sir Colin


Simon Marsh

RIP Colin Davis, such a sad loss, i will aways remember some of the great concerts and recordings that i sang in and took part in with the London Symphony Chorus!!


Ian Murray

This is an extremely sad day for music lovers around the world. Living in London, I was fortunate to have attended dozens of concerts conducted by Sir Colin over the last 50 years. I particularly remember the first one - a performance of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex at the Proms. Then, also at the Proms, he conducted a most exciting performance of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. These 2 concerts laid the foundation for my love of classical music and in the following years I approached every Colin Davis concert with the highest expectations and was never disappointed. Because he reached the heart and soul of every piece he conducted, for me Sir Colin was the greatest British conductor of the 20th Century and I will always cherish the memory of his performances - several of which were fortunately captured on record. As I write these words I can envisage the twinkle in his eyes as he shuffled on stage through the violin section. His love and sheer joy of music making

with the LSO will never be forgotten. My condolences to his family and the LSO.


David Brooks

His leadership of the Proms in the late 60's had a lasting effect on many of us; his connection with the young audience enhanced the experience greatly. After one concert in 1969 he handed my then fiancée, now wife and fellow concert-goer, £7 to take to the pub with a group of regular Prommers; he and his wife joined us later, and we learned that conductors were also regular pub-going people.


Jacob Lane

Thank you for your integrity


mike jackson

There aren't many people I would pay tribute to in this way. CD , in my early days of exploring music, led me to boldly go....particularly to Berlioz among others.

I bought most of his recordings simply because his name was on the label. Between him and Adrian Boult I embarked on a magical journey including my first intro to the proms. I hope , in that next world, you enjoy meeting those whose music you brought to life so wonderfully. RIP


Viv Nugent

What a loss to the music world. I feel absolutely bereft and I didn't know him. I grew up listening to his recordings and remember his time at the proms with great affection


Nick Jackman

Ten years ago on my first day in my first job, working in the LSO management, I took a call from a kindly gentleman who I took to be one of the Friends of the Orchestra. After an exchange of idle chitchat, Sir Colin (for it was he) said: 'You don't know who this is, do you? But that doesn't matter. Who are you? I don't think we have spoken before'. What a gentleman. What a musician. What a loss.


Donal O'Flynn

A great man. A great conductor My condolences to his family. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.


Sharon Hancock

Since I first discovered Classical Music as a teenager, I have loved Sir Colin Davis and going to one of his concerts was a thrill. He was an inspiration and as long as recorded music is listened to he will continue to be revered as a quite exceptional musician.


Elisabeth Parsons

I am so sorry to learn of the passing of such a wonderfully inspiring man and musician. It is so sad when the great ones leave us but thankfully we have so many recordings to enjoy.

My best wishes to his family and friends.


Dagny Mueller

Dear Sir Colin,

we will all miss you so much.

Who will take care of Berlioz as you did?

Who will be as passionate a conductor as you were?

Gratitude and deep respect!



Mrs Lynne Love

I had the good fortune to wrk with Sir Colin during my time as a choral singer. He was in inspiration and will be sorely missed.


Allan Vanegas

Rest is peace Sir Colin Davis, I will always treasure your art. My first recording of Mozart's Requiem was conducted by you and even though there are other recordings, I always keep going back to yours.


Domenico Spetrini

Dear all,

I remember the grace and the elegance that Sir Colin and his wife had during a tour of LSO to Italy in 2008.

Sadly I never had the occasion to work with him again after that fantastic experience, but I always remember how nice was to work with him.

Rest in peace


Maria Montes

As a music lover, I would like to express my condolences for the big loss of Sir Colin Davis. I got the chance to see him conducting only once, with the LSO, and it was a memorable concert. Thank you for all the music and legacy, from Barcelona.


Paul Cutts

It was as a 10-year-old boy in a working-class South Wales neighbourhood that I first encountered Mozart - on Sir Colin's famous LP recording of Così fan tutte with Caballe, Baker, Gedda, Allen et al, given to my mother as a present. It's not too much to say that its impact was profound - I knew from then on that music would be central to my life. 25 years later, having spent 15 years as a music journalist, I had the joy of interviewing Sir Colin at his London home. All the intelligent, wit, warmth and depth that had made the recording so special were even more evident in the man. A true great - and one to whom I and countless others owe a lasting debt of gratitude.


Heather Daldry

A master of the most sublime music and a modesty unparallelled.


Ken Davis

It was with great sadness that I heard the news of Sir Colin's death today and I send my condolences to his family and friends particularly those at the LSO. Like everyone else I will miss his presence on the musical scene but will fondly remember him when I listen to his recordings and reflect on a life full of creativity and humanity.


Alan J. Grant

I am sorry to hear of the passing of Sir Colin Davis.

He was terrific conductor who brought inspiration to many musicians. His concerts were excellent and truly uplifting.

He will be sadly missed.


Marco Kowalski

Rest in peace Sir Colin, and thank you for being my inspiration in music. I grew up with his recordings for Philips.


Yonita Carter

The Classical Music world has lost a great Maestro! An inspiration to so many young and old! We shall never forget you Sir Colin Davis!



My deepest sympathies to his family; they, and we, have lost a great man. As a boy of 16 I managed to talk my way backstage at an LSO concert in the Barbican so I could meet him. I still remember his selflessness; not many people would give the time of day to someone pestering them post-concert.


More recently his Sibelius recordings from the 90s with the LSO have given me so much.


Thank you, Sir Colin. May you rest in peace.


Junli You

Rest in peace, Sir Colin Davis.


Christina McDonald

A very sad day. Thank you so much for everything and you will be greatly missed. Your inspiration gave me so much enthusiasm for music and quite simply, words are not enough.....Rest in Peace.


Alan Free

Sir Colin was a hugely inspiring conductor whose integrity shone through. I've heard him many times on radio and TV broadcasts and on one unforgettable occasion at the Proms in 2008 conducting Sibelius's 2nd symphony with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. It was evident that the young players had immense affection and respect for him. RIP.



toutes mes condoléances


Georgia Kardaki

I had the honor of meeting Sir Colin while I worked at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall. An amazing musician and the most wonderful person. I will always remember him with great admiration and affection. My sincere condolences to his family.


Pam Buckley

Such sad news for Sir Colin's family, for the LSO and the world of classical music. It was a great joy and privilege to sing for him in the LSC. He always inspired us in the chorus to give of our best and did so with humour, warmth and charm. He passed his love of Berlioz onto the chorus, inspiring memorable performances from the Grammy awarded Trojans to last year's truly awesome Requiem at St Paul's. Requiescat in pace.