Tributes pour in for 'one of the greatest musicians of our time' Sir Colin Davis


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The Independent Culture

Tributes have poured in for Sir Colin Davis, the longest-serving principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), who has died at the age of 85.

The world renowned conductor, described as "one of the greatest musicians of our time", who was particularly known for his interpretations of Mozart, Sibelius and Berlioz died on Sunday night after a short illness.

Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House said: “His passing represents an end of an era, where grit, toil, vision and energy were the defining elements of a leading international opera house.”

He continued: “The warmth and excitement of his music-making will be terribly missed. He was a giant. A very sad moment for British music.”

Sir Colin first conducted the LSO in 1959, and became its principal conductor in 1995. The organisation described him as “the head of the LSO family for many years”.

In a statement, the organisation said: “Sir Colin’s role in British musical life was immense.”

Tony Piper, a choral singer who worked with Sir Colin for a performance of the Berlioz Requiem at St Paul’s Cathedral last year, said: “His intensity made him special. He wasn’t given to the grand gesture, but you knew what he wanted.” He added: “He was also terribly nice. A charming gentleman.”

Beyond the LSO, he worked with the Royal Opera House - Pappano said there had been “future plans with him in place”- as well as the English Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Sir Colin, who was studied clarinet at the Royal College of Music, and began his career as a conductor in 1957 as an assistant with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, head of the Barbican, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, said:"Sir Colin was one of the great musicians of our time, and for over half a century and more he played a central part in our musical lives.

"He will be sadly missed here at the Barbican for his wonderful relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra, for his total professionalism at the service of great music, and for his encouragement of young people's music-making. Our thoughts are with his family."

Harriet Harman said: “Colin Davis made a historic contribution to music - in this country & worldwide. Condolences to his family.”