Renowned proms conductor Sir Andrew Davis dies aged 80

Renowned British conductor Sir Andrew Davis has died at the age of 80, his agent confirmed.

Sir Andrew, who was one of the longest-serving chief conductors of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, had been suffering from leukaemia, his agent Jonathan Brill said.

He had been managing the disease for between one and a half to two years, but it became acute shortly after his 80th birthday on 2 February.

Sir Andrew led Last Night of the Proms on multiple occasions throughout the 1990s and conducted the proms two weeks after Princess Diana’s death in 1997.

Tributes have already started flowing in for the late musician, who was living in Chicago when he died.

Justin Lloyd Webber, the cellist and conductor – and brother of Andrew, the composer and impresario – said he was “sad” to learn of Sir David’s passing.

“A great musician who was wonderful with his soloists,” he added. “I treasure the memory of a lovely Delius Concerto in 2012 with Philharmonia Orchestra. RIP.”

London’s Royal Opera House also paid tribute.

In a post on X, the historic venue wrote: “We are saddened to hear of the death of conductor Sir Andrew Davis.

Composer Anthony Payne (right) and his conductor Sir Andrew Davis enjoy the audience’s applause after the first public performance of Elgar’s unfinished Third Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall in London, February 1998 (PA)

“In a career spanning over 5 decades, he was the artistic leader of several of the world’s most distinguished opera and symphonic institutions including BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and Glyndebourne.

“He made his Royal Opera debut in 1983 conducting Der Rosenkavalier and last conducted Capriccio (in concert) in 2013. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

Fellow 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.”

Sakari Oramo, the current chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, said: “Remembering with greatest respect and admiration everything Sir Andrew Davis did for music, and particularly for dear BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus over many decades.”

Sir Andrew was born in Hertfordshire in 1944.

He studied at the Royal College of Music and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was an organ scholar.

The celebrated conductor later took up conducting and performed a wide range of repertoire, ranging from contemporary to Baroque.

Sir Andrew also held conducting positions around the world, including leading the Toronto and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras.

In 1992 he was created a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) and in 1999 he was knighted in the New Year Honours List.

He moved to the US with his wife to take up the post of music director with the Lyric Opera of Chicago after retiring from the BBC in 2000.

Sir Andrew was in the US when he died.


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