25 September, 1927 — 14 April 2013
The traditional road to success for a conductor used to be an apprenticeship in an opera house as a coach, playing the piano for singers in rehearsal. Colin Davis chose another route, partly by necessity. Unable to play the piano, he was not allowed into the conducting course at the Royal College of Music in London. So, he achieved an important international career by taking the initiative to form ensembles and conduct for friends at first. Early successes included the founding of the Chelsea Opera Group, a company which to this day gives performances of little known operas in concert.
Davis was soon working with professional orchestras including the BBC Scottish Symphony. His first ‘break’ was at Sadler’s Wells in 1958 when his conducting of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio began a lifelong connection with that composer. The Edinburgh Festival followed along with Glyndebourne. His concert career blossomed in the mid 1960′s alongside his opera work and his other passion for Berlioz began to bring him to the attention of record lovers. He has recorded all the major works of Berlioz, including the first complete (and still regarded as the landmark) recording of Les Troyens.
Davis has enjoyed a career-long affiliation with Philips Classics, recording along with Berlioz, Mozart, the complete symphonies of Sibelius (while he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Symphony in the 1970s) and much more.