Andrew Davis (conductor)

Sir Andrew Frank Davis[1] CBE (born 2 February 1944) is an English conductor. He is currently music director and principal conductor of Lyric Opera of Chicago, chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of both the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Sir Andrew Davis

Sir Andrew Davis conducting the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in August 2012
Background information
Birth nameAndrew Frank Davis
Born (1944-02-02) February 2, 1944
Ashridge, Hertfordshire, UK

Born in Ashridge, Hertfordshire to Robert J. Davis and his wife Florence Joyce (née Badminton), Davis grew up in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, and in Watford.[2] Davis attended Watford Boys' Grammar School, where he studied classics in his sixth form years. His adolescent musical work included playing the organ at the Palace Theatre, Watford.[2] Davis studied at the Royal Academy of Music and King's College, Cambridge where he was an organ scholar, graduating in 1967. He later studied conducting in Rome with Franco Ferrara.


Davis' first major post was as associate conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 1970. In 1975, he became music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). He held the post until 1988, and then took the title of Conductor Laureate with the TSO.[3]

In 1988, Davis became music director at Glyndebourne, where he met the American soprano Gianna Rolandi, who became his third wife.[4] Davis concluded his Glyndebourne tenure in 2000. In 1989, Sir John Drummond appointed Davis as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC SO).[5] During his BBC SO tenure, Davis restored the tradition established by Malcolm Sargent of the chief conductor of the BBC SO conducting the Last Night of The Proms. He was noted for his humorous Last Night speeches, including giving two speeches after the Major-General's patter song from The Pirates of Penzance,[2][6] but he also more seriously addressed the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, Mother Teresa, and Sir Georg Solti in his 1997 Last Night speech.[7] Davis stepped down as the BBC SO's chief conductor in 2000 and now holds the title of conductor laureate of the BBC SO.

In May 1992, Davis was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and in the 1999 New Year Honours List he was appointed a Knight Bachelor. In 2002, he conducted the Prom at the Palace concert, held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace as part of the celebrations for the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Davis became the music director and principal conductor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2000. His work in Chicago has included his first conducting of Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle of Richard Wagner in 2005[8] and the first Chicago production of Michael Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage.[9] His current contract with Lyric Opera of Chicago is through the 2020–2021 season.[10]

In 2005, Davis became Music Advisor to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, for a designated three-year period. In September 2006, he announced that he would relinquish this position with Pittsburgh after the 2007–2008 season.[11] In October 2007, Davis and the orchestra mutually agreed to terminate his contract early and for him not to conduct his scheduled Pittsburgh Symphony concerts in the 2007–2008 season, because of increased demands on his schedule.[12] Outside of the USA, in June 2012, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra named Davis its chief conductor, effective in January 2013, with an initial contract of 4 years.[13] In July 2015, the MSO extended Davis' contract through 2019.[14] In April 2018, the MSO announced that Davis is to conclude his MSO chief conductorship at the end of December 2019.[15]

Davis has performed a wide range of repertoire, with a particular focus on contemporary British music. He is particularly associated with Michael Tippett,[16] including the British premiere of his work The Mask of Time. Davis has recorded for a number of labels, including NMC Recordings, Teldec and Deutsche Grammophon.[17] He has also made a critically acclaimed recording of Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus.

Davis and his wife reside in Chicago. Their son Edward, born in 1989, is a 2012 graduate of Knox College.[18]



  1. International Who's Who in Classical Music, Europa Publications Limited (2003; ISBN 1-85743-174-X), p. 176.
  2. John Walsh (13 September 1997). "Conductor of hope and glory". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  3. Littler, William (8 May 2015). "The TSO's Englishman in Toronto". Toronto Star. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  4. "Does he have what it takes?". Telegraph. 28 June 1997. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  5. Humphrey Burton (8 September 2006). "Obituary: Sir John Drummond". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  6. Cannadine, David (May 2008). "The 'Last Night of the Proms' in historical perspective". Historical Research. 81 (212): 315–349. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2008.00466.x. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  7. Robert Cowan/Edward Seckerson (15 September 1997). "Last Saturday saw the Last Night of the Proms and the first night of the Royal Opera's exile at the Barbican. Robert Cowan and Edward Seckerson were at the respective venues..." The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  8. Martin Kettle (7 April 2005). "Der Ring des Nibelungen (Lyric Opera, Chicago)". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  9. Matthew Westwood (21 August 2009). "Davis's baton change". The Australian. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  10. "Sir Andrew Davis adds chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to his responsibilities" (Press release). Lyric Opera of Chicago. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  11. Andrew Druckenbrod (29 September 2006). "Future succession to keep PSO busy". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 28 April 2007.
  12. Andrew Druckenbrod (27 October 2007). "Davis backs out of PSO concerts". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 27 October 2007.
  13. "Sir Andrew Davis announced as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor" (Press release). Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  14. "Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis to lead the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra until 2019" (Press release). Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. 27 July 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  15. Angus McPherson (10 April 2018). "Sir Andrew Davis to step down from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra". Limelight Magazine. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  16. Cairns, David (March 1998). "Images of beauty: Michael Tippett 1905–1998". The Musical Times. 139 (1861): 4–5. Archived from the original on 8 May 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  17. Tim Ashley (23 February 2007). "Chopin: Piano Concerto No 1; Liszt: Piano Concerto No 1, Li/ Philharmonia/ Davis". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  18. Barbara Wright-Pryor (16 June 2012). "Sir Andrew Davis receives honorary degree from Knox College". Chicago Crusader. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Bernard Haitink
Music Director, Glyndebourne Opera Festival
Succeeded by
Vladimir Jurowski
Preceded by
Gennady Rozhdestvensky
Principal Conductor, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
1995–1998 (with Paavo Järvi)
Succeeded by
Alan Gilbert
Preceded by
Bruno Bartoletti
Music Director, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Succeeded by
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