Obituary: Sir Colin Davis (1927–2013)


Carolynn Hall

Rest in Peace Sir Colin. I loved your performances at the Barbican with the LSO! You always was a fantastic musician!


Paul Polivnick, Conductor Laureate

New Hampshire Music Festival

I would just like to say how much I admired this great man. In 1971 I was a Bernstein Conducting Fellow at the Tangelwood Music Festival and Sir Colin came to conduct the Missa Solemnis of Beethoven with the Boston Symphony. He kindly gave up some of his valuable time to meet with the handful of conducting fellows and I was immediately struck by his integrity and sincerity. There was nothing false or commercial about this man and I felt an immediate affinity for him. As time went on and I became increasingly involved with my own career I had countless opportunities to learn from him through his wonderful recordings. I had a special love for his handing of the Hadyn London Symphonies, which remain models of that style for me. Thank you Colin for your life,very well lived!


With deep affection and appreciation.



The Choeur de Radio France, very sad by the death of Sir Colin Davis with whom we divided of so beautiful and so cordial moments of great musical emotion, in particular at the time of many concerts of Berlioz, and that we let us delight to find for two concerts at the end of May with the Festival of Saint-Denis, present at its family her more sincere condolences.


Hugh Waldock

I was only very briefly at GSMD from 1997-98 but he was the one that everyone wanted to work for there. I feel very sorry for his family. he was a great man and my teacher at HfM Cologne sang with him and the Boston Symphony. I like and remember his recent performance of Handel's Messiah a couple of years back.


Mario Ricca

You gave me some of the best hours listening to music. Your Sibelius, your Berlioz, your Missa Solemnis... In Covent Garden, Royal Albert Hall or the Barbican, you'll be there, and the music you played with LSO will remain singing through walls and corridors.

Thank you, dear Colin, Mr. Davis.


Daniel Bowen

Sir Davis was a titan of classical music in the mid-late 20th and early 21st centuries. His beautiful interpretations of works from Handel to Beethoven resonated throughout my house, my car, and my iPod. May he rest eternally in peace.


Kirk Companion

With deep sympathy to his family and friends!


His guest conducting of the Boston Symphony Orchestra(BSO) Jan. 2003 of RVW's 5th and Elgar's Cello Concerto was divine. I became a Sibelius fan via his recordings with the BSO.


Coleen Deon

The recordings of Sir Colin Davis were some of the first ones I fell in love with as a student of harp at SUNY Purchase in New York. We have lost a great talent, but he leaves behind a phenomenal legacy. Thank you, Sir Davis!


Roberto Guersoni Giarola

He had been in South America on 1995, on tour with staatskapelle Dresden. That's the first time I saw him besides many records years before. He is in a better place now for sure.


Marina Chan

Deep condolences to late Sir Collin Davis and his family. Remembering him last year conducting the LSO w/ soloist Michiko Uchida at the Barbican.


David Jackson

There is some music which is almost impossible to imagine without him at the helm. Farewell Sir Colin Davis - a True, Gentle Man of Music.


George Peretz

Sir Colin's concert performances of The Trojans were the most gripping and overwhelming musical experiences I have ever had. I shall always remember them - and many other evenings of great music - with immense gratitude.


Leslie Mustoe

Your concerts were always memorable occasions. Fortunately, your recordings will enable us to re-live the experiences.

Rest in peace.


Thomas Vidal

Dear Colin,

It will always be an immense privilege to have known you and played with you. Doing BYO by your side has made me the person I am today. It made me realise how much there was to life that could be found through music, and I can never be thankful enough for all that you have brought me.

I will never forget

Rest in peace, Sir Colin


Nan Yang

Tears are full of my eyes. Sir Collin's wonderful interpretation of Mozart's music brought many happy moments to my life. Maestro, rest in peace.


Otis Enokido-Lineham

One of the most inspirational conductors I ever had the privilige to see in concert, his Sibelius cycle is one of the most refreshing and most thought provoking to date and no doubt he will be missed more than words can say.


Cllr Henry Lamprecht

Sir Colin was a Herculean figure in music. He led on the period informed performance field but his main contribution was his unforgettable work on contemporary music and specifically his championing of the music of Sir Michael Tippett.


His death will leave a large empty space in the British musical scene.


Sandra Scott

I am very sad to hear that Sir Colin Davis has died. I saw him conduct many times particularly at Covent Garden, he was a great Mozartian and seemed to have an innate understanding of the at once simplicity and yet the deep complexity of the score particularly in relation to the singers and their need for a underpinning of support and their sustaining of the vocal line above his clean and crisp reading of the score. A truly musical man RIP.


Mark Baker

In recent years, Sir Colin gave some exceptional performances with the LSO - his Otello and Freischutz were exceptional, but his legacy will surely be his passion for Berlioz - no-one has done more to rescue a truly great composer from potential obscurity. As we mourn his loss, we can all celebrate his life and work.


Etienne Cutajar

Dear Sir Colin, thank you for being truly inspirational.

May you rest in piece.


Alicia Torra de Larrocha

From Barcelona, I want to express my condolences to his family and to the London Symphony Orchestra. My mother, the pianist Alicia de Larrocha, used to play many times with him and she felt a great admiration, respect and affection for him. R.I.P


Brian and Hilary

Great sadness but also gratitude for the wonderful music he brought us over many years.



Such an unexpected tragedy, no doubt he inspired generations with his Mozart and Berlioz recordings.



Thank you for your music, dear Colin. It was a privilege to learn to know you, to see you work and to be inspired by such a generous person. In heaven will the music sound forever. Rest in Peace.


Johann Teibenbacher, Composer

You gave joy through music for many decades and with your great legacy of recordings your conducting will be remembered for all times!


R.I.P. Maestro!


Kelly Hong

Sir Colin Davis was my favourite conductor in the world. The last concert I heard him conduct was the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, a fitting tribute. Sincere condolences to his family and to his LSO family.


Enrique Felices

Colin Davis rests among the greatests.


Scott Cooper

Unfortunately I just missed out seeing him conduct, as I am only young he was starting to slow down and pass on the baton by the time I got a real interest in classical music.


However I have many of his recordings which stand proud on my shelves and are first choice selections. On interviews he had an excellent knowledge of the repertoire and a lovely personality.


Although not lucky enough to see him, there will be a certain gap without him being here, but he has certainly left his mark on British music history and a magnificent recorded legacy behind. He will never be forgotten,


Rest in peace Sir Colin.


Gert van Veen

Thank you for the beautiful music. It has been important to me.


E Chin

Such sad news of Sir Colin's passing. My last experience of his conducting was with the LSO (and Mitsuko Uchida) in 2011 - Beethoven and Nielsens. I wont ever forget his musical genius, and am incredibly grateful that I was able to attend so many of his performances. My thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP Sir Colin.


Bill Proctor

From his very first recording (of overtures, for World Record Club) Colin Davis' outstanding credentials as a recording (as well as performing) conductor were self evident. Without his quite remarkable espousal of Berlioz, until then almost universally neglected (especially by his countrymen), we would probably still only be listening to the Symphonie Fantastique: in effect he opened up a whole new musical experience for his own and subsequent generations. And we can at least still treasure his baritone accompaniments from the rostrum to the music he loved and made us all love too.


Alexander Keuk

Goodbye Sir Colin - a true musician, faithful to himself, humble to the music. Thank you.


Roger Sayer

A great inspiration to so many and yet humble and kind. It was an honour to be involved with him on last years momentous performance of Berlioz Requiem -his last concert with the LSC. RIP


Jonathan Kubiak

A true inspiration and an honour to perform under your batton. You will be forever missing and your memory occupy a special place in my heart.


Dan Morgan

Deeply saddened to hear of Sir Colin's death. A central figure in my musical journey over the past 40 years; so many memorable concerts, so many cherished recordings. I shall never forget watching him conducting the Berlioz Requiem at the Proms some years ago; he was so animated during the Tuba mirum he nearly parted company with his spectacles. A great loss to music-lovers everywhere. RIP, Sir Colin.


Valerie Cannata

The world has lost a great man and a great musician. So many wonderful memories -- I remember his lovely smile most of all and his gentleness. On my 40th birthday, I asked to be introduced to him. He walked up to me with his hand outstretched and said, "I understand I am your birthday gift." My condolences to his family and the LSO.


Jack Lindsay (14)

I have just discovered that Sir Colin Davis is dead. The news was shattering, like a dagger of ice being plunged deep into my very soul. I will always remember this extraordinary man. Although I did not know him, I was a big fan of his conducting style and also his incredible interpretations of various composers. Sir Colin Davis will always live in all our hearts as being a man of extraordinary musical talent, inspiring passion and will remain forever as one of the Greatest Conductors that ever lived. My most heartfelt condolences.


Robert Summers

Sir Colin Davis was one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century. It was with great sadness I learned of his passing. I live in Boston, and have seen him perform many times in Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood. His recorded performances of the complete Sibelius symphonies with the BSO is a monument to his gift. He introduced Boston audiences to Jesse Norman at Tanglewood, championed the music of his countryman Sir Michael Tippett, and of course his mastery of the Music of Hector Berlioz was unsurpassed. RIP Sir Colin.


Rui Baptista

Fairwell, Sir Colin. Thank you for the many good times at the Barbican.


Jeremy Williams

Sir Colin was a wonderful musician and conductor and the best Berlioz. I ever played was with him and the LSO.


Giovanni Guzzo

No words to express such sad feelings right now. But so thankful to have met one of my biggest musical influences. Thank you for the wonderful memories together. You will always be deeply loved and remembered by all of us.


Konstantina Pappa

I met him in the late 90's, when he was conducting the Eropean Union Youth Orchestra. He was a revelation, not only for his unique musicality and the ability to make us, the young musicians, perform our best; he was so kind, he would talk to each one of us as if we were colleagues. Despite the fact that he was the elderly one, he was living every moment with a bursting intensity. I have been very inspired by him, both as a person and as a musician. I will always carry his memory.

I would also like to express my condolescence to his wife, who certainly does not have a memory of it, but it would not be exaggerated to say that she changed my way of being by introducing me to alexander technique after an extraordinary session in Wiesbaden, Germany.


Imogen Cooper

A wonderful musician, whose humanity and ever fresh love of and wonder at music made collaboration with him unique. What a contribution he has made to the musical world. I write this with a heavy heart and many thoughts to both his family and his musical family.


Eric Nagamine

RIP Sir Colin. My condolences to the Davis family. While I unfortunately never got to see him in concert, I enjoyed many of his recordings over the years. His service to Berlioz, Mozart, & English music will long be appreciated.


Maria Koripas Aghababaie

It is such a terrible loss - we owe so much to Sir Colin for inspiring our son whilst in the Barbican Young Orchestra.


He was a warm and generous artist who never compromised his expectations of the young musicians he was guiding. As a parent I was lucky enough to witness in rehearsals and final performances the extraordinary achievements he drew out of our son Nikian and indeed the entire young orchestra.


We owe Sir Colin so much and we will always hold dear his

kindness and tremendous inspiration.


You will always have a special place in our hearts.


Thank you Sir Colin!!!


Joanna Gueritz

As a member of the London Symphony Chorus, it has been my privilege and my joy to sing for Sir Colin many times. He drew wonderful performances from us with his impish humour and obvious deep love of the music. He charmed us into the performances he wanted. He is much loved and will be very badly missed. My deepest sympathy go to his family and to all at the LSO.


Julian Griffiths

A very sad day as the world has lost a truly great man and musician.I had the privilidge of attending his last concerts last year.Sir Colin will be greatly missed by me and countless others.I have many of his recordings all with the LSO and will really treasure them especially the forthcoming release of Weber Der Freischutz which is all the more poignent now as his last ever release.

My sincere condolences to his family.Sir Colin Davis A truly Great and exceptionally gifted man.


Jordi V

Humanity has lost a great man today. Condolences to his family.


Nathan B Davis

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sir Colin Davis, and send my sincere condolences to his many friends and colleagues at the LSO. I first became aware of his stature with the box set of Berlioz' "Les Troyens" which I still treasure. He will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest conductors of this, or any time.


Dr Anthony Kaye

My deepest sympathies to Sir Colin's immediate family. I am sure his loss is felt across the musical world where we will all grieve at the losss of one of England's finest conductors.


Erin Robinson

The world really has lost one of it's best conductors. I was lucky enough to work with Sir Colin 5 years ago when I was 12 in Barbican Young Orchestra, playing Dvorak's 8th and then 2 years later playing Sibelius' 5th. Both have since then been my favourite symphonies, and I was inspired


Brendan Corkery

I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sir Colin. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to hear him conduct live, but I have been blessed to hear many of his recordings, and watch him on television many times. His profound musicianship and deep humanity were always in evidence. He is the reason I now consider Berlioz one of the very greatest of composers, but the list of music he excelled in so much longer: Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Sibelius, Nielsen, Elgar, Britten, Handel... My sincerest wishes to his family and friends at this sad time.


Christopher Stager

I had just finished listening to your recording together of the Elgar First Symphony, then logged on to discover Sir Colin's passing. A long life, yes. An irreplaceable loss, more so. Requiem aeternam, Sir Colin. Thank you for every note. Each cherished then, now and forever.


Nathan Wilson

I am immensely saddened to learn of the death of Sir Colin Davis.

His recordings of Sibelius have enriched my appreciation of one of history's greatest composers and will continue to do so.

It was my privilege to hear him conduct the LSO live on several occasions. During those performances I experienced that sense of immediacy and concentrated, collective emotion which only live music of the highest calibre can engender.

Sir Colin helped a group of people, many of them strangers, to see what is "ultimately and forever right". No life can be better lived.


Robert Costin

Like many I will remember Sir Colin though his vivid, passionate music making - Berlioz of course, Haydn, my first tape of Elgar one from the RAH, Beethoven Piano Concertos with a young Stephen Kovacevich - on and on. I remember him sitting chatting with students in the foyer of the RAM, a wonderfully approachable maestro. Humane, honest, with a twinkle in his eye. We will miss you.


Charlie Burrows

I cannot remember a time when I've never heard of the great Master. A "Pipe Smoker of the year," who gave us the definitive "Falstaff."


May Joseph Wolfe aspire to such greatness as a 'Chip off the old baton."


R.I.P Sir. Your recordings play on forever in honour of of your work.


Gustavo Monastra tenor

My heartfelt sorrow for the loss of this wonderful musician, great teacher, and an excellent person and great "virtual" friend. May he rest in peace and his family overcome this great pain. The whole world of music mourns his departure.