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The Revered English Conductor Sir Colin Davis Has Died At 85 .

   The world of classical music has just lost  one of its greatest conductors . The eminent British maestro  Sir Colin Davis, 85 , has passed away after a brief illness  not long after leading  his final concerts in London .  Sir Colin never fit the stereotype of the glamorous  ,flamboyant  playboy of the podium  which so many people have  in their minds when they think of world famous  conductors .  He always put the music first and not his own ego . 

    In hsi long and distinguished career , he  conducted a  remarkably wide range of orchestral and operatic repertoire  with  most of the world's  foremost orchestras and opera companies , and  held  posts as the head of the London symphony orchestra ,  the Royal Opera in London , the B.B.C. symphony orchestra of London , and  the Bavarian Radio symphony of Munich .  His association with the London symphony orchestra lasted  no fewer than five decades , several as principal conductor in the 1990s up to about 2007 ,  and  his music directorship of  London's Royal opera company  was remarkably fruitful . 

    In America ,  Sir Colin was a regular guest conductor with  the Boston symphony, New York Philharmonic and Cleveland orchestras , and led several  acclaimed new productions at the Metropolitan opera .  In Europe, he  regularly conducted such  leading orchestras as the  Dresden State orchestra , The Royal Concertgebouw orchestra of Amsterdam , and the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics .

     Davis  made a wide variety of recordings , many for the now defunct  Philips label with  these orchestras and opera companies  of works ranging from George Frideric Handel  to  music by leading 20thcentury composer ssuch as Benjamin Britten  ,Sir Michael Tippett  and others .  He also made recordings  for  R.C.A. records, Sony Classical ,  and other labels , many of which have  have been widely acclaimed by both critics and  listeners everywhere .

    Sr Colin was particlarly noted for his championship of the quirky and highly original music of Hector Berlioz , and  recorded virtually  his entire  orchestral ,choral and operatic output , re-recording some of them several times .  Sme 40 years ago , he made the first complete  recording of  "Les Troyens"  in London with the Royal opera i ,  revealing this elusive ,difficult and monumental  opera for as  towering masterpiece it is , as well as the first recording of  the  scintillating  comic opera "Benvenuto Cellinoi" ,based on the life of the rogue Italian goldsmith  and sculptor . 

     There are also acclained recordings of the Berlioz "Symphonie Fantastique," his most famous work, which  Sir Colin recorded no fewer than four times , plus  the monumental Requiem ,  etc . 

    Mozart was another composer for which sir Colin was renowned , and he made acclained  recordings of all seven of  Mozart's  mature operas for Philips, The Marriage of Figaro,  Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute , The Abduction from the Seraglio,  Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito , with some of the world's foremost opera singers .  Plus Mozart's greatest symphonies concertos and choral works .

     Davis was the foremost champion of the great but quirky English composer Sir Michael Tippett , (1905 - 1998 ) , and was a close friend , recording  Tippett's  operas  "The Midsummer marriage", The Knot Garden",  and a variety of symphonies ,concertos and other works of this composer .

    There are also recordings of operas by  Benjamin Britten, such as "Peter Grimes", " A Midsummer Night's Dream ,  Wagner's Lohengrin ,Beethoven's Fidelio , Weber's "Der Freischutz", Verdi's  "Falstaff ",  and other operas , as well as  the complete symphonies of Beethoven,  no fewer than three recordings of th eseven Sibelius symphonies, )another composer for which he was famous ),  a variety of Haydn symphonies ,  and ones by  Brahms, Dvorak, Elgar, Bruckner,Mahler , Schubert ,etc  .

    Although he was never a flashy interpreter , his performances were anything but dull and staid .  He always thought deeply about the music , its meaning and significance  , and sought to  delve as deeply as possible into  both the spirit and letter of  the wroks . 

    As a young man,  Sir Colin's path toward becoming a conductor was far from easy ; he studied clarinet  at the  Royal college of music in London  , but his ambitions to study conducting there were  were  stymied by his lack of  skill  playing the piano , which is  an important instrument for conductors to  be able to play .  But he managed to work his way up  the  ladder of podium success starting  as  an assistant conductor  with various musicla organizations such as the Sadlers/Wells opera of london, now the English National opera , and his big break came in the late 1950s when he was a last minute substitute for a  concert performance to be conducted by  legendary German conductor Otto Klemperer ( 1885-1973 ) when the elder conductor  was indisposed ,  and as they say, the rest is history .  The musicians of the world's leading orchestras , who  are often highly critical of  the ocductors who lead them and are not easily impressed , had nothing but  the greatest respect and  admiration for him .

    There is no question that Sir Colin  Davis will go down in music history as one of  the greatest  conductors of  the 20th century .  R.I.P.



Posted: Apr 15 2013, 11:08 PM by the horn | with no comments
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