Obituary: Sir Colin Davis (1927–2013)


Denise, Madeline, Simone

All deepest condolences to Colin's children and family for their very sad loss. So many happy memories, operas, concerts, rehearsals and family occasions.

Thank you Colin for the many years you and Shamsi gave love and support and unforgettable musical experiences.


Steven Sonck

Thanks to who you were! You taught me the music of Hector Berlioz. You will always live in my heart and in your music!


Peta Walmisley

I am so sad to hear of Sir Colin's passing. My friend and I always tried to attend his concerts and were deeply affected that he was not able to attend his birthday concert, but were able to have our tribute included.


My condolences go to his family, as well as all his other ardent supporters.


penny powell

he made whatever music he conducted special. he had a way of teasing the essence of any piece he conducted out and made it special


John Greening

FOR COLIN DAVIS (1927-2013)


Berlioz thanks you, Maestro,

and hopes that what you hear

as you arrive is something like


his Requiem or the Love Scene

from Romeo and Juliet, that what

you feel is that release


at the end of the Fantastique

and you going 'Phew!' No one

performed them as you did.


Mozart has moved the billiard table

so they can honour you – Britten,

Bruckner, Beethoven and late


arrivals like Nielsen. Sibelius

has arranged a fly-past

of migratory geese across


the Rose Lake with Tippett.

There’s Haydn, guiding you

through Chaos to a new season.


Joe Stanley

I shall miss you so much, Sir Colin - many many thanks for all the wonderful concerts over the years, rest in peace.


Robin Self

I first saw Sir Colin conduct at a Prom in 1961 but it was not until he stood in for an ailing Otto Klemperer at the Royal Festival Hall in 1970 when he gave an outstanding performance of Beethoven's "Choral" Symphony that I realised the true genius of the man. I have seen him conduct many times since then and he has never disappointed. One of our greatest conductors and a lovely man, who will be sorely missed.



I have many wonderful memories of seeing Sir Colin conduct at The Barbican.

Thank you and may you rest in peace.


My condolences to your family


patricia pearce

you gave the world wonderful music i so enjoyed your concerts


Martin Entwistle

Many wonderful memories of Sir Colin's performances,particularly the concert at the Barbican in February 1995 celebrating Michael Tippett's 90th birthday. Those of us attending will never forget the astonishing performance of The Rose Lake with the composer walking on stage at the end with Sir Colin.

RIP Sir Colin and thank you for the great pleasure you have given us through your inspirational performances.


Maggie Stockton

Thank you for the wonderful season of Berlioz music and over years seeing the relationship with the LSO become more and more satisfying apparently for you, the LSO and the audiences


Dee Home

I first sang with Sir Colin in 1969(BBC Choral Soc.) and on occasion we would perform under the baton of this dashing, energetic young man.It was such a thrill to sing in majestic St. Paul's or to be heard 'on the radio' but most of all it was an education because he taught us to aim to share with him the attempt to convey what the composer had intended, to the listener. Religious or not we had to 'believe' in what we we were singing.No 'parrot fashion'output allowed.

Subsequently , being fortunate to join the LSC, we were thrilled when Sir Colin became Principal Conductor of the LSO and we had a greater opportunity for working with him.

How we loved it when we strived hard to get exactly what he wanted of us and when a particular phrase went well his eyes would twinkle in satisfaction and he'd exclaim..''That's it!''How we preened!

Your energy and enthusiasm will be sorely missed Sir Colin. You sometimes referred to ''When I'm pushing the daisies up.''Well wherever that is; Thank you for a lifetime of wonderful choral experiences.


With sincerest wishes of sympathy to the family of Sir Colin.


Alastair Mathews

As a member of the London Symphony Chorus I had the pleasure of being conducted by ‘Sir Colin’ on many occasions. My abiding memories of him are as a courteous and quietly spoken ‘gentleman’, who was not afraid to ‘let the music speak for itself’ and thus his tempi could be what others might regard as ponderous, although his direction was always very clear. He opened up for me the world of opera especially Otello and many Berlioz works but I also admired his appreciation of classic works by Mozart and Haydn and of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis which he championed. He is a colossal loss to the music world and represents the passing of an era.


Thank you Sir Colin for all you have given to us and to me. May you rest in peace.


Adrian Clark

Having first watched the then plain Colin Davis on a black and white television screen, it has been my pleasure to have seen him develop from the fire-brand of those days into the serene yet energetic podium figure he became in his final years.


The conversation with Nikolai Znaider, moderated by Gareth Davies, at St Luke's was so memorable as it revealed much about him: his humanity, humility, professionalism and devotion to music and, above, to Life.


Of him it can be truly said, "They don't make them like that any more".


john bath

When I heard Sir Colin conduct Sibelius's 5th Symphony I cried tears of joy. I am now a great admirer of the Finnish composer. Please pass on my condolences to his family. A sad loss indeed.


Nick Jervis

A true legend who bought so much enjoyment to the

Music Family all over the world. R.I.P.


larry gold

My first memory of Sir Colin was when he was Muscial Director at Covent Garden and leaving a programme atthe stage for him to sign which of course he did.

My other abiding memory was of a concert performance he conducted of Othello at the Barbican which was outstanding.

Rest in peace Sir Colin with you wife


Giorgio Nicoli

Sir Colin Davis one of the greatest conductors of our two centuries has gone.

I grew with his legendary recordings of Mozart, Sibelius , Berlioz and much more. It'is a really moving coincidence one of his last recording released just few weeks ago was his second rec. of Berlioz Requiem. We should also gratefully remember in his last years Sir Colin enlarged his huge repertoire by itself when he splendidly conducted and recorded all the symphonies of Carl Nielsen (I'm going to relisten right now all these last achievements as his artistic testament). In addition the only fact Sir Colin completed two cycles of Berlioz orchestral works, sacred works and operas stands as a unique artistic experience no other conductor matched. Wish the Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ (about His Childhood Sir Colin loved the Great Berlioz Oratory he movingly left twice to us), receive and bless the willing Heart of Sir Colin. My condolences to his family as well.


Maud Saint-Sardos

I joined the LSC 3 years ago and the first performance I took part in was conducted by Sir Colin (St John Passion - Macmillan). What a memorable experience, as well as all the other great pieces of music he taught us!

His profound passion for music, his respect for all musicians and subtlety in interpretation have been a significant source of inspiration. I feel very privileged I met Sir Colin.

My sincere thoughts are with his family and friends.

His spirit remains with us...



Dear Sir Coin, you were simply the greatest and best. Thank you with all my heart.


Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Dear London Symphony Orchestra


We offer our deepest condolences on the passing of Sir Colin Davis.


Sir Colin Davis was a great Musician, a Conductor and a Teacher who has directed and influenced many in the music world. We were also honoured to sing under his baton and this musical memory will live on in us.


Our thoughts are with You!


David Smurthwaite

A very sad event for all music lovers. A bright and absorbing light has gone out, but what a privilege it has been to hear and see Sir Colin at work over so many years. I am deeply grateful to Sir Colin and his orchestras for enhancing my life.


Ken Woods

On the evening of the day on which I read of Sir Colin's death I played my DVD recording of the 1989 Regensburg Cathedral performance of his beloved Berlioz Requiem (I bet I wasn't the only one to do that). Although I also cherish the early Philips LSO Westminster Cathedral recording, to have a visual reminder on DVD that evening was immensely moving.


Among other concert visits over the years I attended two of his LSO City of London Festival performances of the Requiem in 1966 and ten years later in 1976, both in the magnificent setting of St Paul's Cathedral. Those glorious occasions have remained constantly in my head. I loved his work, his special way with Berlioz (no one ever piloted the stabbingly anguished Lachrymosa the way he did), and the man himself.


Richard John White

As I type this message I am listening to Sir Colin's most recent recording of the Mozart Requiem. I am not a musician, but it was an electrifying Prom performance of the Rite of Spring in 1969 or thereabouts that made me a lifelong devotee of the best music in all its forms.... and thus enriched my life.

Thank you Sir Colin, and my deepest sympathy to your loving family.


John Willan

How sad to have lost such a great, inspirational, musician. I have vivid memories of singing under his baton in the LSO Chorus, years ago. As a producer, I never worked with him in the studio but, when I was managing the London Philharmonic, I spent time with him at his home talking about London and its orchestras. He was most hospitable, very interesting and utterly charming.


Speaking as a governor of the Royal Academy of Music, I know he will be sorely missed. Many great musicians lend their time, experience and extraordinary gifts to young musicians, none more than Colin whose generosity, spirit and support will be remembered for a very long time.


Emily Hoffnung

The last concert Sir Colin conducted in which the London Symphony Chorus took part was Berlioz, Grande Messe des Morts at St Paul's Cathedral in 2012 with the LSO. Although at this time he was very frail, once on the rostrum Sir Colin seemed imbued with a youthful vigour by this extraordinary music, set of players, sense of place and long day light hours of late June. We all recognised the unique magic his being at the helm brought to this fantastic combination of elements and we sang our hearts out for him in a way that only his musicianship, insight, charm and humility could coax from us. It was an evening I will never forget.


John Moxon

On behalf of the Friends of Music at Wells Cathedral School, we send our condolences to the family and friends of Sir Colin Davis. As a charity giving support to the young musicians of Wells Cathedral School, we were greatly honoured when Sir Colin agreed to be our Patron a few years ago. Throughout his illustrious career, he was always keen to encourage young musicians in any way he could, and the world has lost not only a great conductor but a great man.


James Wong

I had the privilege to see Sir Colin Davis conduct the LSO in the Beethoven Piano Concerto series. It was an event that brought me to Barbican Hall for the first time. I will forever remember the sight of Sir Colin, wielding his wand and orchestrating the LSO; giving me such beautiful memories. May you rest in peace, Sir Colin. God bless you.


Jordi Muns

Les meves condolencies per la familia i per tots els que ens agradaba la seva manera de fer la musica, per sort perduraran els seus enregistraments molts autentiques referencies


Paul Cornwell

My memories of Colin go back over fifty years to when he bounced on the stage to conduct the Chelsea Opera Group in Cambridge in 1959. He had a fluffy head of black hair then. I heard six more of his concerts there , five of them of Berlioz. I was also present when he took over (at 30) from Klemperer at the RFH to conduct Don Giovanni with Sutherland, Schwarzkopf, etc. Wonderful man, wonderful life.


Alexandre Girard

I'm deeply sad after Sir Colin's death.


But I'll still remember the many musical experiences I had thanks to his musical gifts.


When I learnt his death I listened to the first cd by Sir Colin I got : Sibelius' 5th and 6th with the LSO on LSO Live. It was also my first Sibelius cd, and I remember buying it while I was spending my holidays in the UK.


Then I discovered all his Berlioz's recordings, a great gift for us, the French.




Laurent Evrard

My youth was blessed with his fabulous interpretations of Berlioz that became references. Since listening to Berlioz' Requiem with Sir Colin as conductor, I bought nearly all versions available on the market at that time, and that was in 1984-85. I ended up buying any Berlioz work with Sir Colin as conductor, because I was sure any record with Sir Colin as conductor would be a a reference. The world has lost a great conductor. It is a sad day for me and for all classical music lovers.


Douglas Quigg

It is with the deepest sadness I heard of Sir Colin Davis's death this morning.


Sir Colin has made a fantastic contribution to the nations, and indeed the planets, musical life. On many occasions I attended his concerts with the LSO and I savoured every single one. Most memorably, I remember him conducting Beethoven's symphony at a cracking pace. It was brilliant.


Sir Colin will always be linked to the LSO and we will miss him so very much.


Sue Goodman

As a humble amateur second soprano in the London Symphony Chorus I could think of no-one that we worked with more exhilarating than Sir Colin. Music came alive for us with him. A memorable musician.


boutinaud marie agnes

Aurevoir Sir Colin Davis

votre nom et votre talent reste eternel


Brian Cooper

I had the privilege of hearing Sir Colin live only once in my life. It was one of a handful of unforgettable performances I have heard of Bruckner's Sixth, in Cologne, where he conducted the fantastic LSO back in 2008. I am grateful not only for this concert experience, but also for numerous recordings, particularly of Berlioz, a much-underrated composer for whose music this wonderful conductor did so much. The news of his death is saddening, but he lives on in his recordings! As I write, I am listening to the CD of Mozart overtures with the Staatskapelle Dresden. Thank you, Sir Colin, and my sincere condolences to your family.


John & Vicki Steward

A sad day for classical music. We were privileged to see Sir Colin conduct on several occasions and each one was a concert to remember.


RIP Sir Colin and condolences to his family.


Eugenia Sciorilli, editor of the web magazine

I am an Italian journalist, I interviewed Sir Colin Davis in Montreux many years ago, for the monthly magazine "Alta Fedelta ". I was enchanted by his personality and answers. I have always kept those beautiful memories in my mind. I felt extremely sorry while learning about his death.