Sir Andrew Davis: famed British conductor dies aged 80 following battle with leukaemia

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Sir Andrew Davis, one of the longest serving chief conductors of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, has died from leukaemia

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

Agent Jonathan Brill confirmed the news that Sir Andrew, who was one of the longest-serving chief conductors of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, had lost his battle with leukaemia. He was said to have been managing the disease for between one and a half to two years, but that his condition worsened shortly after his 80th birthday on February 2.

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The Royal Opera House paid tribute to Sir Andrew and said: “We are saddened to hear of the death of conductor Sir Andrew Davis. In a career spanning over 5 decades, he was the artistic leader of several of the world’s most distinguished opera and symphonic institutions.”

Conductor Julian Lloyd Webber added: “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.”

The talented conductor made his debut at the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1970. In the same year, he was also named the associate conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Fans of the Proms are familiar with his works, with Sir Andrew conducting the Last Night Of The Proms on multiple occasions.

He also held the roles of principal conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1975 to 1988, Glyndebourne Festival Opera music director from 1988 to 2000, and held the honorary title of conductor emeritus from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Sir Andrew was also principal conductor of Lyric Opera Of Chicago from 2000-2021 and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s conductor laureate and chief conductor from 2013-2019. His last public appearance came in December 2023, conducting Handel’s Messiah with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Symphony Centre.

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His moved into conducting after he won the position of organ scholar at King’s Collage, Cambridge, which was inspired by his time playing organ for the parish choir previously in Watford. In 1992, he was awarded a CBE and seven years later in 1999, he was awarded a knighthood.

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