Davis, Sir Colin (Rex)

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Davis, Sir Colin (Rex)

Davis, Sir Colin (Rex) , eminent English conductor; b. Weybridge, Sept. 25, 1927. He studied clarinet at the Royal Coll. of Music in London, and played in the band of the Household Cavalry while serving in the army. He began his conducting career with the Kalmar Chamber Orch. and the Chelsea Opera Group; in 1958 he conducted a performance of Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail in London; from 1961 to 1965 he served as music director of Sadler’s Wells. He made his U.S. debut as a guest conductor with the Minneapolis Sym. Orch. on Dec. 30, 1960; subsequently had engagements with the N.Y. Phil., the Philadelphia Orch., and the Los Angeles Phil. From 1972 to 1983 he served as principal guest conductor of the Boston Sym. Orch. On Jan. 20,1967, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. conducting Peter Grimes. From 1967 to 1971 he was chief conductor of the BBC Sym. Orch. in London. In 1965 he conducted at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden; he succeeded Solti as its music director in 1971. Among his notable achievements was a production at Covent Garden of the Ring cycle between 1974 and 1976; in 1977 he became the first British conductor to appear at the Bayreuth Festival, conducting Tannhauser. He conducted the Royal Opera during its tours in South Korea and Japan in 1979, and in the U.S. in 1984. In 1983 he was appointed chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Sym.

Orch. in Munich, which he led on a tour of North America in 1986. In 1986 he stepped down as music director at Covent Garden to devote himself fully to his duties in Munich and to pursue far-flung engagements as a guest conductor with major orchs. and opera houses of the world. In 1988 he was named to an international chair at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1993 he stepped down from his Munich position. In 1995 he became principal conductor of the London Sym. Orch. Davis is an authoritative interpreter of such masters as Mozart, Berlioz, Sibelius, and Stravinsky. He has also championed the cause of his British contemporaries, most notably Sir Michael Tippett. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1965, and was knighted in 1980. From 1949 to 1964 he was married toApril Cantelo.


A. Blyth, C. D. (London, 1972).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Davis, Sir Colin (Rex)

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