Former BBC Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis Passes Away at 80

World mourns the loss of iconic conductor Sir Andrew.

by Nouman Rasool
Former BBC Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis Passes Away at 80
© Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

This is a significant loss, not only in the world of music but to the whole world beyond, with Sir Andrew Davis being a giant name in not only touching music worldwide but also in leading the best orchestras and opera houses.

At 80, Sir Andrew leaves behind a classical music world that is going to be the envy of many—an irreplaceable legacy with his very own unique, distinctive style and compassionate leadership. Sir Andrew held many distinguished appointments during his career, including chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBCSO) and musical director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

His 11 years with the BBCSO he included 12 appearances at the Last Night of the Proms between 1988-2018. High-spirited and quick with a joke, Sir Andrew joked that it once took tongue in cheek to describe the event as "the very model of a modern music festival," in good Gilbert & Sullivan style.

Global Tributes Pour In

Throughout the music world, tributes have been coming in fast as word spreads of his passing. Dame Sarah Connolly, one of Britain's leading mezzo-sopranos, told the news that this had made her heart heavy and went on to say of Sir Andrew: "hearty and hale, self-deprecating and humble, smart, funny, and super-sharp musically." She added: his leadership was very empathetic, and the style encouraged cooperation and respect, not fear.

Julian Lloyd Webber, described Sir Andrew as "a great musician" and particularly strong in his working relationship with soloists. He especially relished a performance of a Delius concerto under Davis's baton in 2012 with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Pianist Stephen Hough similarly focused on Sir Andrew's exceptional collaboration capabilities, describing him as "a musician with the sharpest ear and clearest stick." Born in 1944 in Hertfordshire, Sir Andrew Davis naturally had an affinity for music: he was a student at Watford Grammar School for Boys and later at the Royal College of Music and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was an organ scholar.

He has conducted worldwide, from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Sir Andrew Davis passed away on Saturday in Chicago after a long battle with leukemia over the past year, the Slipped Disc classical music website informed.

The loss in classical music marks the end of an era: the colossal influence he has had, at heart, on several generations.