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Colin Davis (1927 - 2013)

Colin Davis studied the clarinet with Frederick Thurston at the Royal Academy of Music and subsequently served as a military bandsman in the Household Cavalry. Among his earliest experiences as a conductor was the direction of the Kalmar Orchestra, formed by fellow students from the Royal Academy. The orchestra became better known when it changed itself into the Chelsea Opera Group, dedicated to exploring the operatic repertoire, and was conducted extensively by Davis in concert performances at Oxford and Cambridge during the early 1950s. Davis’s inability to play the piano had resulted in him being unable to study conducting formally at the Royal Academy, and also disbarred him from the traditional conducting apprenticeship of working in an opera house as a répétiteur. Consequently during his earlier career he was reliant upon a mixture of different jobs, such as conducting amateur groups, in order to gain experience. In 1957 he was appointed assistant conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, as was later to be the case with Sir Andrew Davis and Sir Simon Rattle, and his career began to develop more rapidly.



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