Colin Davis

Sir Colin Rex Davis CH CBE (25 September 1927 – 14 April 2013) was an English conductor, known for his association with the London Symphony Orchestra, having first conducted it in 1959. His repertoire was broad, but among the composers with whom he was particularly associated were Mozart, Berlioz, Elgar, Sibelius, Stravinsky and Tippett.

He studied as a clarinettist, but was intent on becoming a conductor. After struggles as a freelance conductor from 1949 to 1957, he gained a series of appointments with orchestras including the BBC Scottish Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He also held the musical directorships of Sadler's Wells Opera and the Royal Opera House, where he was principal conductor for over fifteen years. His guest conductorships included the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Dresden Staatskapelle, among many others.

As a teacher, Davis held posts at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Landesgymnasium für Musik "Carl Maria von Weber" (preparatory school for music) in Dresden. He made his first gramophone recordings in 1958, and his discography over the next five decades was extensive, with a large number of studio recordings for Philips Records and a substantial catalogue of live recordings for the London Symphony Orchestra's own label.

Colin Davis (1967)
Davis in 1967

Early years

Davis was born in Weybridge, Surrey, the youngest of three sons among seven siblings, to Reginald George and Lillian Davis.[1][2] The family was musical, and he was exposed to music from an early age. He recalled:

"I can still see Sargent conducting the first concert I ever attended. I can still hear Melchior in the final scene of Siegfried – an old 78 playing on my father's gramophone. … I can also remember the moment I decided to make music my life. I was 13 or 14 at the time and the performance was of Beethoven's Eighth. Doors were suddenly opened. I became totally involved, even obsessed by music, although I was frightfully enclosed by my likes and dislikes. Today I'm game for anything."[3]

Royal College of Music - April 2007
The Royal College of Music, where Davis studied

With financial assistance from his great-uncle, Davis was educated at Christ's Hospital in Sussex[4] and then won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied the clarinet with Frederick Thurston.[5] His fellow-students included Gervase de Peyer, but Davis developed a greater interest in conducting. He was, however, not eligible for the conducting class at the college, because he could not play the piano.[6]

Following compulsory military service and completing his studies at college, Davis served as a clarinettist in the band of the Life Guards. Stationed at Windsor, he had continual opportunities to attend concerts in London under conductors including Sir Thomas Beecham and Bruno Walter. In 1949, he began his career as a freelance musician (the "freelance wilderness", in his own phrase) where he remained until 1957.[2] His first conducting work was with the Kalmar Orchestra, which he co-founded with other former students of the Royal College. He was subsequently invited to conduct the recently founded Chelsea Opera Group in Don Giovanni. In the early years of his career, he also took some engagements as an orchestral clarinettist.[7] What seemed at first to be a full-time conducting appointment, for the Original Ballet Russe in 1952, ended abruptly after three months, when the company collapsed. In between sparse conducting engagements, Davis worked as a coach and lecturer, including spells at the Cambridge University Musical Society and the Bryanston Summer School, where a performance of L'enfance du Christ awakened his love of Berlioz's music.[8]

BBC and Sadler's Wells

His first breakthrough came in 1957 when, at his third attempt, he secured the post of assistant conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra (now the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra).[9] The chief conductor of the orchestra generally chose to conduct the standard repertoire pieces himself, and left Davis with modern works and non-standard repertoire works, including those of Berlioz.[10] By 1959, Davis had developed to the extent that, after a concert of Stravinsky and Mozart with the London Mozart Players, the chief music critic of The Observer, Peter Heyworth, wrote, "Mr Davis conducted two works in a manner that showed that he is not only outstanding among our younger conductors, but probably the best we have produced since Sir Thomas Beecham, his senior by forty-eight years."[11]

Glyndebourne 2
Glyndebourne, scene of one of Davis's early breakthroughs

Davis first found wide acclaim 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, Beecham invited him to collaborate with him in preparing The Magic Flute at Glyndebourne. Beecham was taken ill, and Davis conducted the opera. After the Don Giovanni, The Times wrote, "A superb conductor of Mozart declared himself last night at the Festival Hall…. Mr Davis emerged as a conductor ripe for greatness."[12] Neville Cardus in The Guardian was less enthusiastic but nevertheless considered that he "had his triumphs" in the performance.[13] After The Magic Flute, The Times called Davis "master of Mozart's idiom, style and significance",[14] although Heyworth in The Observer was disappointed by his tempi, judging them to be too slow.[15]

In 1960, Davis made his début at the Proms in a programme of Britten, Schumann, Mozart and Berlioz.[16] In the same year, he was appointed chief conductor of Sadler's Wells Opera, and in 1961 he was made musical director of the company, with whom he built up a large repertoire of operas, conducting in London and on tour.[17] Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians wrote of this period, "He excelled in Idomeneo, The Rake's Progress and Oedipus rex, and Fidelio; his Wagner, Verdi and Puccini were less successful. He introduced Weill's Mahagonny, and Pizzetti's Assassinio nella cattedrale to the British public and conducted the première of Bennett's The Mines of Sulphur (1965)."[18] Together with the stage director Glen Byam Shaw, he worked to present operas in a way that gave due weight to the drama as well as the music.[19] In his early years, Davis was known as something of a firebrand with a short fuse in rehearsals,[20] and his departure from Sadler's Wells in 1965 was not without acrimony.[21]

After he left Sadler's Wells, and being passed over as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra,[22] Davis was named chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, effective September 1967.[23] At first, in the general view of the public, his tenure was overshadowed, at least during the Proms, by the memory of Sir Malcolm Sargent. Compared to the "suave father figure" image of Sargent[24] to the promenaders, it took some time for the much younger Davis to be accepted.[23] The BBC's official historian of the Proms later wrote, "Davis never really identified himself with the Proms in the way that Sargent had done.[24] Davis was uncomfortable with the traditional hullabaloo of the Last Night of the Proms and attempted, unsuccessfully, to modernise it.[25] The BBC's Controller of Music, William Glock, was a long-standing admirer of Davis, and encouraged him to put on adventurous programmes, with a new emphasis on modern music, both at the Proms and throughout the rest of the orchestra's annual schedule.[26]

Covent Garden

In 1970, Sir David Webster, who ran the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet companies at Covent Garden, invited Davis to succeed Sir Georg Solti as principal conductor of the opera.[27] At about the same time, the Boston Symphony Orchestra invited him to become its musical director, but Davis felt that if Covent Garden needed him, it was his duty to take on the post.[19] Webster's vision was that Davis and the stage director Sir Peter Hall, formerly of the Royal Shakespeare Company, would work in equal partnership as musical director and director of productions. After early successes together, including the première of Michael Tippett's The Knot Garden in December 1970, Hall left to succeed Laurence Olivier as director of the National Theatre. Webster had retired by that time, leaving Davis, together with Webster's successor as General Administrator, Sir John Tooley, to run the Royal Opera.[27]

Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where Davis was musical director between 1970 and 1986

Davis' early months in charge at Covent Garden were marked by dissatisfaction among some of the audience, and booing was heard at a "disastrous" Nabucco in 1972. His conducting of Wagner's Ring cycle was at first compared unfavourably with that of his predecessor.[28] Among his successes were Berlioz's massive Les Troyens (with Jon Vickers and Anja Silja) and Benvenuto Cellini, Verdi's Falstaff, the major Mozart operas, and, as one critic put it, he "confirmed his preeminence as a Britten and Stravinsky interpreter" with productions of Peter Grimes and The Rake's Progress.[28] Davis conducted more than 30 operas during his fifteen-year tenure,[18] but "since people like Maazel, Abbado and Muti would only come for new productions", Davis yielded the baton to these foreign conductors, giving up the chance to conduct several major operas, including Der Rosenkavalier, Rigoletto and Aida.[28]

In addition to the standard operatic repertoire, Davis conducted a number of modern and unfamiliar operas, including Tippett's The Knot Garden and The Ice Break (of which he is the dedicatee),[18] and Alexander Zemlinsky's The Dwarf and Eine florentinische Tragödie.[29] With later stage directors at Covent Garden, Davis preferred to work with those who respected the libretto: "I have a hankering for producers who don't feel jealous of composers for being better than they are, and want to impose their, often admittedly clever, ideas on the work in hand."[30] Davis hoped that Götz Friedrich, with whom he worked on Wagner's Ring cycle, would take on the role of principal producer vacated by Hall, "but it seemed that nobody wanted to commit themselves."[28]

During his Covent Garden tenure, Davis returned to the BBC Symphony Orchestra as principal guest conductor from 1971 to 1975, and held the same post with the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1972 to 1984.[2] In 1977, he became the first English conductor to appear at Bayreuth, where he conducted the opening opera of the festival, Tannhäuser. Despite the Bayreuth habitués' suspicion of newcomers,[31] his Tannhäuser was "highly successful".[32] He debuted at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, in 1967 with Peter Grimes, the Vienna State Opera in 1986 and the Bavarian State Opera in 1994.[2]

Bavarian Radio Symphony and London Symphony Orchestras

From 1983 to 1993, Davis was chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, with whom he developed his concert hall repertoire, including symphonies by Bruckner and Mahler.[21] He was offered but declined the music directorships of the Cleveland Orchestra in succession to Maazel and the New York Philharmonic in succession to Zubin Mehta.[33] As a principal guest conductor he was associated with the Dresden Staatskapelle, which appointed him honorary conductor (Ehrendirigent) in 1990, the first in the orchestra's 460-year-history,[34] and whose musicians referred to Davis with the nickname "Der Sir".[35] From 1998 to 2003, he was principal guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic.[2]

In 1995, Davis was appointed principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, the culmination of a long association with the orchestra. He had first conducted the LSO in 1959, and in 1964 he headed the orchestra's first world tour. He became principal guest conductor in 1975 and was at the helm in the LSO's first major series at its new home, the Barbican Centre, in a Berlioz/Tippett festival in 1983.[34] In 1997 he conducted the LSO's first residency at Lincoln Center in New York City.[34] Davis was the longest-serving principal conductor in the history of the LSO, holding the post from 1995 until 2006, after which the orchestra appointed him its President, an honour previously held only by Arthur Bliss, William Walton, Karl Böhm and Leonard Bernstein.[36] On 21 June 2009, 50 years to the day after his first LSO performance, a special concert was given at the Barbican, at which present-day players were joined by many past members of the orchestra.[34] His programme for the concert was Mozart's Symphony No 40 in G minor, and Brahms's Piano Concerto No 2, with Nelson Freire as soloist.[37]

During his time with the LSO, both as principal conductor and later as president, Davis conducted series and cycles of the music of Sibelius, Berlioz, Bruckner, Mozart, Elgar, Beethoven, and Brahms,[34] and in 2009 began presenting a cycle of the symphonies of Carl Nielsen.[38] Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians wrote, "He conducted a Sibelius cycle in 1992 and a concert performance of Les Troyens the following year, both of which have become the stuff of legend. More recently he has added grand performances of Bruckner, Richard Strauss and Elgar, the première of Tippett's last major work, The Rose Lake (1995), and a Berlioz cycle begun with Benvenuto Cellini in 1999 and crowned by an incandescent Les Troyens in December 2000, all confirming his partnership with the LSO as one of the most important of its time."[18]


Davis was president of the Landesgymnasium für Musik "Carl Maria von Weber" in Dresden,[39] and held the International Chair of Orchestral Studies at the Royal Academy of Music, London.[40] Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, principal of the academy, wrote of Davis, "As the Academy's International Chair of Conducting over 25 years, Sir Colin helmed six opera productions and over sixty concerts, classes and chamber music projects. Such extraordinary generosity from a major international conductor is surely unique. He inspired a whole generation here, as did Henry Wood and John Barbirolli before him."[34]


Davis's discography is extensive, numbering over 300 recordings. He made his first record in 1958 conducting the Sinfonia of London in performances of Mozart's Symphonies 29 and 39 for World Record Club (TZ 130). [41] This was followed on 8 May 1959 by a recording made in Kingsway Hall, London, for Decca with the New Symphony Orchestra of London and pianist Peter Katin performing Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op. 18. He made several records for the small independent label L'Oiseau Lyre, including a 1960 L'enfance du Christ and a 1962 Béatrice et Bénédict which, at April 2013, were both still available on CD. For EMI he made both operatic and orchestral recordings, the former with Sadler's Wells forces, including excerpts from Carmen and a complete Oedipus rex, and the latter including Harold in Italy with Yehudi Menuhin, and what remains one of his best-known recordings, a 1961 Beethoven Seventh Symphony.[42][43]

Philips and RCA

In the 1960s, Davis signed as an exclusive artist for Philips Records, with whom he made an extensive range of recordings in the symphonic repertoire and a large number of operatic recordings, including the major Mozart operas; operas by Tippett, Britten, Verdi and Puccini; and a comprehensive survey of the operas of Berlioz, culminating in an award-winning first recording of the complete Les Troyens issued in May 1970.[21][44]

Davis's 1966 Philips recording of Handel's Messiah was regarded as revelatory at the time of its issue for its departure from the large-scale Victorian-style performances that had previously been customary.[45] Other Philips recordings included a 1982 set of Haydn's twelve London symphonies with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra "distinguished by performances of tremendous style and authority, and a sense of rhythmic impetus that is most exhilarating";[46] and a 1995 Beethoven symphony cycle with the Dresden Staatskapelle, of which Gramophone wrote, "There has not been a Beethoven cycle like this since Klemperer's heyday."[47]

Davis made a number of records with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Philips, including the first of his three Sibelius cycles, which remains in the CD catalogues. They also recorded works by Debussy, Grieg, Schubert, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky.

For RCA Victor Red Seal, Davis recorded complete symphony cycles of Sibelius (with the LSO), Brahms (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1989–98), and Schubert (Dresden Staatskapelle, 1996).

LSO Live

Sir Colin Davis
Davis in 2007

Davis's terms as chief conductor, and latterly president, of the LSO coincided with the orchestra's decision to launch its own record label, issuing live recordings (patched where necessary with takes from rehearsals) at budget prices. Davis's recordings on the LSO Live label include Beethoven's opera Fidelio (2006), a wide range of Berlioz works, including a second recording of Les Troyens (2000), La damnation de Faust (2000), Roméo et Juliette (2000), Béatrice et Bénédict (2000), Harold en Italie (2003), and the Symphonie fantastique (2000); Britten's Peter Grimes (2004); Dvořák's Symphonies Nos. 6–9 (1999–2004); five Elgar sets: the Enigma Variations (2007) and the Introduction and Allegro for Strings (2005), the three symphonies (2001), and The Dream of Gerontius (2005); Handel's Messiah (2006); Haydn's Die Schöpfung (2007); Holst's The Planets (2002); James MacMillan's St John Passion, (2008) The World's Ransoming and The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (2007); Mozart's Requiem (2007); Nielsen's Symphonies Nos. 4–5 (2011); a third Sibelius symphony cycle (2002–2008); Smetana's Má vlast (2005); Tippett's A Child of Our Time (2007), Verdi's Falstaff (2004), Requiem (2009), and Otello (2010); and Walton's First Symphony (2005).


Davis was appointed CBE in 1965,[48] knighted in 1980[49] and appointed Companion of Honour in 2001.[50] He was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society's gold medal in 1995,[2] the Queen's Medal for Music, 2009,[51] and has numerous international awards, including Commendatore of the Republic of Italy, 1976; Commander's Cross, Order of Merit (Germany), 1987; Commandeur, l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), 1990; Commander, Order of the Lion (Finland), 1992; Order of Merit (Bavaria), 1993; Officier, Légion d'honneur (France), 1999 (Chevalier, 1982); Order of Maximilian (Bavaria), 2000.[2]

Other awards include Pipe Smoker of the Year in 1996,[52] Male Artist of the Year in the Classic Brit Awards 2008,[52] and the Grammy Award in 2006 for Best Opera for his LSO Live recording of Verdi's Falstaff.[34]

Personal life

In 1949, Davis married the soprano April Cantelo. They had two children, Suzanne and Christopher. Their marriage ended in 1964, and in that same year, Davis married Ashraf Naini, known as Shamsi.[4] To satisfy both the Iranian and British authorities, the couple were married three times, once in Iran and twice in the UK, in the Iranian Embassy in London as well as in a UK civil ceremony; they had five children.[53] One of their children is the conductor Joseph Wolfe, who chose a different surname, because he wanted to "create some space to grow and develop my own identity as a musician."[54]

Lady Davis died in June 2010 at the time Davis was conducting Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at the Royal Opera House. Davis continued the run of performances just days later and when asked, the following year, how he had the strength to perform, he replied, "It comes from the music. There is so much negative nonsense talked about Mozart, but he is – well, he's life itself."[55]

Illness and death

After his wife's death, Davis's health declined rapidly. He fell from the podium at Covent Garden in February 2011, and cancelled many engagements in the subsequent months. His last concert with the LSO was a performance of Berlioz's Requiem in June 2012.[4] His last known performance was with an amateur London orchestra and soloist Thomas Gould, a month before his death.[56] On 14 April 2013, Davis died in London at the age of 85 after a short illness.[57][58]

Antonio Pappano, music director at the Royal Opera House, said Davis's death came as a "huge blow".[59] Labour MP Harriet Harman tweeted that Davis had "made a historic contribution to music – in this country & worldwide", while Borjan Canev, former assistant conductor to Davis, said "thank you for being my inspiration".[60]



  1. ^ Blyth, p. 4
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Davis, Sir Colin (Rex)", Who's Who, 2010, A & C Black, 2010; online edition, Oxford University Press, December 2009, accessed 9 January 2010
  3. ^ Gramophone, December 1967, p. 39
  4. ^ a b c Nice, David (14 April 2013). "Sir Colin Davis obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  5. ^ Blyth, pp. 6–8
  6. ^ Blyth, p. 8
  7. ^ Blyth, pp. 9–10
  8. ^ Blyth, p. 10
  9. ^ Ivan Hewett (2013-04-15). "Sir Colin Davis: from angry young firebrand to wise elder statesman". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  10. ^ Blyth, p. 11
  11. ^ Heyworth, Peter, "Best Since Beecham", The Observer, 6 September 1959, p. 23
  12. ^ "Outstanding Don Giovanni under Mr. Colin Davis", The Times, 19 October 1959, p. 6
  13. ^ "Schwarzkopf dominant in concert version of Don Giovanni", The Guardian, 20 October 1959, p. 7
  14. ^ "Mozart Genius at its Peak", The Times, 29 July 1960, p. 13
  15. ^ Heyworth, Peter. "Disenchanted Flute", The Observer, 31 July 1960, p. 18
  16. ^ The Times, 3 August 1960, p. 5
  17. ^ Blyth, p. 13
  18. ^ a b c d "Colin Davis", Grove's Dictionary, Oxford Music Online, accessed 9 January 2009
  19. ^ a b Blyth, p. 21
  20. ^ Rupert Christiansen (2013-04-15). "Sir Colin Davis and his stormy career in opera". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  21. ^ a b c "Davis, Colin",, accessed 10 January 2010
  22. ^ "Sir Colin Davis". Telegraph. 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  23. ^ a b Orga, p. 158
  24. ^ a b Cox, p. 192
  25. ^ Orga, p. 166
  26. ^ Blyth, p. 16
  27. ^ a b Haltrecht, p. 101
  28. ^ a b c d Canning, Hugh. "Forget the booing, remember the triumph", The Guardian, 19 July 1986, p. 11
  29. ^ Royal Opera House programme booklets for 30 September 1983, 3 April 1970, 2 December 1970, 6 December 1972, 11 July 1977 and 7 October 1985
  30. ^ Gramophone, July 1981, p. 23
  31. ^ 26 July 1977, p. 9
  32. ^ The Times, 25 July 1977, p. 9; and 26 July 1977, p. 9
  33. ^ Morrison, p. 217.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g Mackenzie, Lennox, "50 years with Sir Colin Davis",, accessed 10 January 2010 Archived 30 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "The Staatskapelle Dresden mourns the death of its Conductor Laureate, Sir Colin Davis" (Press release). Staatskapelle Dresden. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  36. ^ LSO concert programme booklet, 9 January 2007
  37. ^ LSO concert programme booklet, 21 June 2009
  38. ^ LSO concert programme note, 1 October 2009
  39. ^ "Schirmherr: Sir Colin Davis". Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. accessed 30 October 2011
  40. ^ "Colin Davis Fellowship", Royal Academy of Music, accessed 10 January 2017
  41. ^ TZ 130 cover notes
  42. ^ "Discography", Blyth, pp. 60–61
  43. ^ Gramophone, February 1996, p. 8
  44. ^ Gramophone, May 1970, p. 84
  45. ^ Gramophone, November 1966, p. 77. It was produced by Mercury Records' Harold Lawrence and recorded by Philips engineer Hans Lauterslager using the Mercury 3-spaced-omni mic technique, called "M3" by Philips. See Lauterslager, Hans: presentation at Audio Engineering Society Amsterdam 2008 Historical Event. Presentation included listing of Philips M3 recording sessions. The recording was reissued on CD by Philips in the 1990s as a 2-CD set in the "Duo" series.
  46. ^ Gramophone, June 1982, p. 33
  47. ^ Gramophone, December 1995, p. 75
  48. ^ "No. 43529". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1964. p. 10.
  49. ^ "No. 48059". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 January 1980. p. 288. accessed 15 September 2009
  50. ^ "No. 56237". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2001. p. 5.
  51. ^ The Official Website of the British Monarchy, accessed 11 January 2010
  52. ^ a b Norris, Geoffrey, "Sir Colin Davis: Knit one, purl one, conduct one", The Daily Telegraph, 15 May 2008
  53. ^ O'Mahony, John. "Calm after the storm", The Guardian, 21 September 2002
  54. ^ "Joseph Wolfe"' Classical Source, accessed 29 January 2012
  55. ^ Service, Tom. "Sir Colin Davis: 'You are of no account whatsoever'", The Guardian, 12 May 2011
  56. ^ Greg Cahill (2013-04-15). "Sir Colin Davis, 1927-2013". Strings. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  57. ^ Sir Colin Davis 1927–2013,, accessed 14 April 2013
  58. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (14 April 2013). "Sir Colin Davis, British Conductor, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  59. ^ "Conductor Sir Colin Davis dies". BBC News. 14 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  60. ^ "London Symphony Orchestra president Sir Colin Davis dies, aged 85". London Evening Standard. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.


  • Blyth, Alan (1972). Colin Davis. London: Ian Allan. OCLC 675416.
  • Cox, David (1980). The Henry Wood Proms. London: BBC. ISBN 0-563-17697-0.
  • Haltrecht, Montague (1975). The Quiet Showman: Sir David Webster and the Royal Opera House. London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-211163-2.
  • Morrison, Richard (2004). Orchestra – The LSO: A Century of Triumph and Turbulence. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0571215843.
  • Orga, Ateş (1974). The Proms. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. OCLC 1121308.

External links

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Alexander Gibson
Music Director, Sadler's Wells
Succeeded by
Bryan Balkwill and Mario Bernardi
Preceded by
Georg Solti
Music Director, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Succeeded by
Bernard Haitink
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (German: Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks) is based in Munich, Germany, one of two full-size symphony orchestras operated under the auspices of Bayerischer Rundfunk, or Bavarian Broadcasting (BR). Its primary concert venues are the Philharmonie am Gasteig and the Herkulessaal in the Residenz.

The orchestra was founded in 1949, with members of an earlier radio orchestra in Munich as the core personnel. Eugen Jochum was the orchestra's first chief conductor, from 1949 until 1960. Subsequent chief conductors have included Rafael Kubelík, Sir Colin Davis and Lorin Maazel. Since 2003, the orchestra's chief conductor has been Mariss Jansons, whose current contract extends through 2024. Jansons has regularly campaigned for a new concert hall for the orchestra since the start of his BRSO tenure.The orchestra participates in the "Musica Viva" concerts, founded by the composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann, to this day.The orchestra has recorded for a number of commercial labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, RCA, and EMI. The orchestra received the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance for its recording of Shostakovich's 13th Symphony. The orchestra has recently begun to produce recordings under its own BR-Klassik label.

Brit Award for Classical Recording

The Brit Award for Classical Recording was an award given by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), an organisation which represents record companies and artists in the United Kingdom. The accolade used to be presented at the Brit Awards, an annual celebration of British and international music. The winners and nominees are determined by the Brit Awards voting academy with over one-thousand members, which comprise record labels, publishers, managers, agents, media, and previous winners and nominees.The award was first presented in 1982 as awards as "Classical Recording" which were won by Simon Rattle.

The accolade has been defunct as of 1993.

Chelsea Opera Group

For the organisation in USA with a similar name see Chelsea OperaChelsea Opera Group is an organisation based in London which arranges concert productions of operas and other works. It was founded in 1950 when David Cairns and Stephen Gray invited Colin Davis, who was at the time a 22-year-old clarinetist, to conduct a concert performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford.The Group has continued this practice since, mainly with the purpose of reviving neglected operas and lesser known versions of more familiar operas. Colin Davis was the president until his death in April 2013. The Group continues to perform operas and other works in London and in Salisbury.

Colin Davis (racing driver)

Colin Charles Houghton Davis (29 July 1933 – 19 December 2012) was a British racing driver from England, who won the 1964 Targa Florio.

Colin Peek

Colin Davis Peek (born June 4, 1986) is a former American football tight end. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology before transferring to the University of Alabama. Peek signed a free agent contract after going undrafted, due to an injury at the NFL Combine, in the 2010 NFL draft. He was part of the Crimson Tide in the 2010 BCS National Championship.

Der Schauspieldirektor

Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario), K. 486, is a comic singspiel by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, set to a German libretto by Gottlieb Stephanie, an Austrian Schauspieldirektor. Originally, it was written because of "the imperial command" of the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II who had invited 80 guests to a private luncheon.

It is regarded as "a parody on the vanity of singers", who argue over status and pay.

Mozart, who describes it as "comedy with music" wrote it as his entry in a musical competition which was given a private performance hosted on 7 February 1786 by Joseph II at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. This competition pitted a German singspiel, presented at one end of the room, against a competing Italian opera, the Italian entry being Antonio Salieri's opera buffa, Prima la musica e poi le parole (First the Music, then the Words), which was then given at the other end of the room. The premiere was followed by the first of three public performances given four days later at the Kärntnertor Theater, Vienna, on 11 February.

Discography of Sibelius symphony cycles

This article aims to include information on the conductors and orchestras that have recorded the seven symphonies of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957).

A complete cycle includes the following compositions:

Op. 39: Symphony No. 1 in E minor (1899, r. 1900)

Op. 43: Symphony No. 2 in D major (1902)

Op. 52: Symphony No. 3 in C major (1907)

Op. 63: Symphony No. 4 in A minor (1911)

Op. 82: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major (1915, r. 1916 and 1919)

Op. 104: Symphony No. 6 in D minor (1923)

Op. 105: Symphony No. 7 in C major (1924)To date, the Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund and the English conductor Sir Colin Davis have recorded the Sibelius cycles three times. A number of other conductors have recorded the complete Sibelius symphonies twice: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Pietari Inkinen, Neemi Järvi, Lorin Maazel, Sir Simon Rattle, Leif Segerstam, Osmo Vänskä, and Akeo Watanabe. Bernstein's second cycle, listed below, is incomplete as are those of Herbert von Karajan (one for EMI, one for Deutsche Grammophon) and Eugene Ormandy (Sony) which are not listed.The complete cycle was recorded a number of times in honor of 150th anniversary of Sibelius's birth.

Elgar Symphony No. 1 discography

The first recording of Edward Elgar's Symphony No 1 was made by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1930, conducted by the composer for His Master's Voice (a label absorbed into the EMI recording group the following year). The recording was reissued on long-playing record (LP) in 1970, and on compact disc in 1992 as part of EMI's "Elgar Edition" of all the composer's electrical recordings of his works.After 1931, the work had no further gramophone recordings until Sir Adrian Boult's 1950 recording (see below). During the 1950s there was only one other new recording of the symphony, and in the 1960s there were only two. In the 1970s there were four new recordings. In the 1980s there were six, and the 1990s saw twelve. Ten new recordings were released in the first decade of the 21st century.

Elgar Violin Concerto discography

Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto was first recorded complete in 1929. Truncated versions had been recorded in 1916 using the acoustic recording process, the technical limitations of which necessitated drastic rearrangement of the score. Electrical recording, introduced in the 1920s, gave a greatly improved dynamic range and realism, and the two leading English record companies, Columbia and His Master's Voice (HMV) both made recordings of the concerto that remain in the catalogue. The first was made for Columbia by Albert Sammons with the New Queen's Hall Orchestra conducted by Sir Henry Wood. Elgar's own recording with the young Yehudi Menuhin followed three years later. Since then there have been more than twenty-five further recordings, featuring British and international performers.

English Chamber Orchestra

The English Chamber Orchestra (ECO) is a British chamber orchestra based in London. The full orchestra regularly plays concerts at Cadogan Hall, and their ensemble performs at Wigmore Hall. The orchestra regularly tours in the UK and internationally, and holds the distinction of not only having the most extensive discography of any chamber orchestra, but also of being the most well-travelled orchestra in the world; no other orchestra has played concerts in as many countries as the English Chamber Orchestra.The English Chamber Orchestra has its roots in the Goldsbrough Orchestra, founded in 1948 by Lawrence Leonard and Arnold Goldsbrough. The group took its current name in 1960, when it expanded its repertoire beyond the Baroque period for the first time. Its repertoire remained limited by the group's size, which has stayed fairly consistently at around the size of an orchestra of Mozart's time.

Shortly afterwards, it became closely associated with the Aldeburgh Festival, playing in the premieres of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1960), Owen Wingrave (1970), Curlew River and several other of his works. The occasions on which Britten conducted the orchestra included the opening concerts of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Snape Maltings in 1967. He also made a number of records with the group.

The orchestra did not at this time have a principal conductor, but worked closely with a succession of guest conductors including Raymond Leppard, Colin Davis and Daniel Barenboim. In 1985 Jeffrey Tate was appointed the ensemble's first principal conductor. In 2000, Ralf Gothóni was appointed second principal conductor.

In June 2009, the English Chamber Orchestra named Paul Watkins its new music director, effective with the 2009-2010 season, for an initial contract of three years.

Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording

The Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording has been awarded since 1961. The award was originally titled Best Classical Opera Production. The current title has been used since 1962.

Prior to 1961 the awards for operatic and choral performances were combined in a single award for Best Classical Performance, Operatic or Choral.

The award goes to the conductor, the album producer(s) and the principal soloists.

Years reflect the year in which the Grammy Awards were presented, for works released in the previous year.

Note: Performers who did not receive a nomination and/or an award (such as orchestras, choruses, etc.) are listed between brackets.

Ingvar Wixell

Karl Gustaf Ingvar Wixell, (May 7, 1931 – October 8, 2011) was a Swedish baritone who had an active international career in operas and concerts from 1955 to 2003. He mostly sang roles from the Italian repertory, and, according to The New York Times, "was best known for his steady-toned, riveting portrayals of the major baritone roles of Giuseppe Verdi — among them Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, Amonasro in Aida, and Germont in La traviata".

Jessye Norman

Jessye Mae Norman (born September 15, 1945) is an American opera singer and recitalist. A dramatic soprano, Norman is associated in particular with the Wagnerian repertoire, and with the roles of Sieglinde, Ariadne, Alceste, and Leonore. Norman has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and is a Spingarn Medalist. Apart from receiving several honorary doctorates and other awards, she has also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts, and is a member of the British Royal Academy of Music.

London Symphony Chorus

The London Symphony Chorus (abbreviated to LSC) is a large symphonic concert choir based in London, UK, consisting of over 150 amateur singers, and is one of the major symphony choruses of the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1966 as the LSO Chorus to complement the work of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The LSC is today an independent self-run organisation governed by a council of nine elected representatives. It continues to maintain a close association with the LSO but also takes part in projects with other orchestras and organisations both in the UK and abroad. The LSC performs mainly with the LSO at the Barbican Centre in London as well as appearing at other concert venues around the UK and Europe and regularly at the Avery Fisher Hall, New York.

Orfeo (record label)

Orfeo International Music GmbH of Munich is a German classical record label founded in 1979 by Axel Mehrle and launched in 1980. It has released many classical own productions with artists as Carlos Kleiber, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Rafael Kubelik, Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Eichhorn, Christian Thielemann, Andris Nelsons, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (both as singer and conductor), Jessye Norman, Julia Varady, Margaret Price, Lucia Popp, Diana Damrau, Edita Gruberova, Grace Bumbry, Brigitte Fassbaender, Agnes Baltsa, Carlo Bergonzi, Peter Schreier, Piotr Beczala, Renato Bruson, Bernd Weikl, Kurt Moll, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Josef Bulva, Oleg Maisenberg, Mischa Maisky, Julius Berger, Karl Leister, Aurele Nicolet etc. In addition, it has a well-known sub-label "ORFEO D'OR", publishing legendary live performances from the archives of the Salzburg Festival, the Bayreuth Festival, the Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra etc. Further, it has produced two records with the late Heinz Ruehmann. Many of the publications have been critically acclaimed and have received important awards.

Philips Classics Records

Philips Classics Records was started in the 1980s as the new classics record label for Philips Records. It was successful with artists including Alfred Brendel, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Mitsuko Uchida, Julian Lloyd Webber, Sir Colin Davis and André Rieu.

A notable product released by the label was the 180-CD The Complete Mozart Edition, which featured all works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, known at the set's publication in 1990–91 for the bicentenary of the composer's death. It was re-released as the Complete Compact Mozart Edition.

Parent Universal Music, which was formed in 1999 from the merger of the PolyGram and MCA families of labels merged the label into Decca Records because the new parent did not have the rights to the Philips name, while PolyGram was a subsidiary of the Philips company. The name Philips Classics still exists but appears on no new recordings, and the Philips Classics Internet presence is within Decca's Web site.

The Knot Garden

The Knot Garden is the third opera by composer Michael Tippett for which he wrote the original English libretto. The work had its first performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 2 December 1970 conducted by Sir Colin Davis and produced by Sir Peter Hall. There is a recording with the original cast.

The Royal Opera

The Royal Opera is a company based in central London, resident at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Along with the English National Opera, it is one of the two principal opera companies in London. Founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Opera Company, it was known by that title until 1968. It brought a long annual season and consistent management to a house that had previously hosted short seasons under a series of impresarios. Since its inception, it has shared the Royal Opera House with the dance company now known as The Royal Ballet.

When the company was formed, its policy was to perform all works in English, but since the late 1950s most operas have been performed in their original language. From the outset, performers have comprised a mixture of British and Commonwealth singers and international guest stars, but fostering the careers of singers from within the company was a consistent policy of the early years. Among the many guest performers have been Maria Callas, Plácido Domingo, Kirsten Flagstad, Hans Hotter, Birgit Nilsson, Luciano Pavarotti and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Among those who have risen to international prominence from the ranks of the company are Geraint Evans, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa and Jon Vickers.

The company's growth under the management of David Webster from modest beginnings to parity with the world's greatest opera houses was recognised by the grant of the title "The Royal Opera" in 1968. Under Webster's successor, John Tooley, appointed in 1970, The Royal Opera prospered, but after his retirement in 1988, there followed a period of instability and the closure of the Royal Opera House for rebuilding and restoration between 1997 and 1999. The 21st century has seen a stable managerial regime once more in place. The company has had six music directors since its inception: Karl Rankl, Rafael Kubelík, Georg Solti, Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink and Antonio Pappano.

Ōrākei Local Board

The Ōrākei Local Board is one of the 21 local boards of Auckland Council. It is coterminous with the Ōrākei ward. It was chaired in its first two terms by local politician Desley Simpson following the 2010 and 2013 elections. In the 2016 elections, Simpson stood for and won the Orakei ward councillor seat on Auckland Council. Colin Davis took her place as Chair.

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