Tributes paid to Highbury resident and London Symphony Orchestra’s president, Sir Colin Davis

PUBLISHED: 14:08 16 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:09 16 April 2013

Sir Colin Davis, described as

Sir Colin Davis, described as "a national treasure" by friends and colleagues, lost his long-running battle with a heart illness


Islington was this week in mourning for a giant of the music world as friends and colleagues paid tribute to “a national treasure”, revered across the globe for his performances.

Sir Colin Davis, the London Symphony Orchestra’s (LSO) president and longest-serving principal conductor, died on Sunday at the age of 85 after losing his long-running battle with a heart illness.

In sign of the unrivalled passion he had for his craft, friends revealed how Sir Colin had been determined to fight off the illness and conduct the LSO on Tuesday night, despite falling seriously ill six months ago.

Lennox Mackenzie, LSO chairman and violin sub leader, said of the Highbury resident: “It is a deeply sad day for the LSO.

“We have lost a beloved member and one of the world’s greatest conductors. He was also our close friend. Music came first for Sir Colin. He wasn’t interested in promoting himself.

“His dedication and passion was infectious not just to the orchestra but to the audiences around the world. He was respected hugely in America, all round Europe and in Japan.

“He had a huge generosity of spirit. He was a national treasure. He was a lovely man and always had a twinkle in his eye.”

Mr Mackenzie revealed how Sir Colin last year made it his ambition to conduct the LSO for its Tuesday night performance of Benjamin Britten’s opera The Turn of The Screw.

The 85-year-old, of Highbury Terrace, had begun to show signs of recovery at the turn of the New Year, but deteriorated about a month ago. Tuesday night’s concert was dedicated to his memory as a result.

The musician, who had worked with orchestras internationally after beginning his conducting career with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and training as a clarinettist at the Royal College of Music, was the holder of two Grammys and the Queen’s Medal for Music.

Kathryn McDowell, managing director of the LSO, said: “He was an extraordinary musician but he was also a man of great humility.

“He was a man of huge integrity and cared about people, both his musicians and especially young ones who he always encouraged.

“Many of the great artists across the world just adored playing for him.”

Announcing Sir Colin’s death on Sunday night, an LSO spokesman said: “Music lovers across the world have been inspired by his performances and recording. He will be remembered with hug affection and admiration.”

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