Sir Andrew Davis, much-loved British conductor, has died aged 80

21 April 2024, 17:04

Sir Andrew Davis, much-loved British conductor, has died aged 80
Sir Andrew Davis, much-loved British conductor, has died aged 80. Picture: Alamy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Farewell to Sir Andrew Davis, a giant of classical music who led several of the world’s great orchestras and opera companies.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

English conductor Sir Andrew Davis has died aged 80, after being diagnosed with leukaemia last year. He died yesterday in Chicago, where he lived with his wife.

Born in 1944 in Hertfordshire, the eldest of four children, Davis learned to play the organ as a teenager. He studied at the Royal College of Music and King’s College, Cambridge where he was an organ scholar.

Among his many achievements, Davis was conductor laureate of the Toronto and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, music director of the Chicago Lyric Opera from 2000 to 2021, and music director of Glyndebourne opera festival from 1988 to 2000.

In 2015, Sir Andrew was appointed Conductor Emeritus at Classic FM’s partner orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

“I have always considered the beginning of my career to be my participation in the Seminar for Young British Conductors with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969,” said Sir Andrew at the time.

“I am deeply touched and honoured by this gift and relish the prospect of making music regularly in and for this wonderfully vibrant city, of which the Orchestra is the finest jewel.”

English conductor Andrew Davis during a concert, 21 July 1978
English conductor Andrew Davis during a concert, 21 July 1978. Picture: Getty Images

Classical musicians and arts institutions have been paying tribute to the great conductor.

The Royal Opera House shared a statement saying: “We are saddened to hear of the death of conductor Sir Andrew Davis.

“In a career spanning over five decades, he was the artistic leader of several of the world’s most distinguished opera and symphonic institutions.”

Julian Lloyd Webber, conductor, musician and broadcaster, wrote: “Sad to learn of the death of Sir Andrew Davis. A great musician who was wonderful with his soloists.

“I treasure the memory of a lovely Delius Concerto in 2012 with Philharmonia Orchestra. RIP.”

Conductor Michael Seal said: “RIP Sir Andrew Davis – I never had the fortune to meet him in person but did spend a lovely couple of hours interviewing him for my podcast.

“A lovelier person you couldn’t wish to meet, humble & warm. He’ll be sorely missed – a great conductor & musician as well as a lovely human.”

Angela Hewitt, pianist and festival director, said: “Oh, Sir Andrew Davis has died. How sad. A wonderful musician, long-time music director… did so much for music in Canada & everywhere.

“We last played together in February ‘23 in Manchester. He was not well, but when he conducted it was full of life & precision.

“I said we must perform together again soon. His reply: ‘Sooner rather than later’.

Davis moved to Chicago in the year 2000 with his wife Gianna Rolandi. Their son, Edward Davis, is a composer.