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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Sir Colin Davis' musical honour
Sir Colin Davis
Sir Colin: Softly-spoken but a great musical leader
Sir Colin Davis, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), has been made a Companion of Honour for his services to music.

Known in person as soft-spoken, witty and gracious to the point of deference, he has fashioned the LSO into one of the world's great orchestras.

Sir Colin was born in 1927 and studied clarinet at the Royal College of Music, going on to play in the band of the Household Cavalry during his military service.

He began his conducting career as assistant conductor with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 1957, and moved to Sadlers Wells in 1959 as principal conductor and later as musical director.

Covent Garden

In 1960 he made his American debut as a guest conductor with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and in 1967 he conducted Britten's Peter Grimes at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

In 1971, after four years as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he became musical director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Sir Colin Davis
Sir Colin has set high standards at the LSO
From 1983 to 1992 he was music director and principal conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and he has been honorary donductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle since 1990.

Sir Colin Davis has been honorary conductor of the LSO since September 1995, having been principal guest conductor since 1975.

Superlatives

He started at the LSO with concert performances of Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Sir Colin's work with the LSO has frequently merited critical superlatives and in May's Royal Philharmonic Society awards the LSO and its conductor were awarded the prize for large ensemble.

"No other British orchestra is currently attaining the high standards of the London Symphony Orchestra," The Times said of a recent performance of Dvorak's Symphonic Variations.

He became Principal Guest Conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1998.

Sir Colin was made a CBE in 1965 and was knighted in 1980.

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