1983 – 1992: Sir Colin Davis
He received a lot of famous awards and he was pronounced Knight of the British Empire – Sir Colin Davis really was a “Gentleman Conductor”. In the nine years as the third Chief Conductor of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks the Bavarian audience got to know their Maestro very well.
With Davis at the top, the orchestra had a Chief Conductor of caliber again: he was a man with great reputation, a passionate musician and a pleasant person, not vain at all, but very distinguished and kind. With Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis” he celebrated a brilliant debut in 1983. The choir and orchestra had been longing for a new Chief Conductor, as the post had been orphaned since the end of the Kubelík-era in 1979. In 1981 the designated Chief Conductor Kyrill Kondraschin had died before he could start the job.
Colin Davis did not only fight for the Viennese Classic but also for the music of English composers such as Edward Elgar, Michael Tippett and Ralph Vaughan Williams. He also brought the works of Berlioz and Sibelius to the Munich audiences who where not familiar with their pieces.
In the nine years of his conductorship Davis strengthened the position of the Symphonieorchester a world famous orchestra. In addition to 35 public performances each year they went on extensive tours through the United Stated and Japan and participated in broadcasting- and recording-sessions. Davis got involved with other regions of Bavaria, too. He looked at Hof, Würzburg, Passau and Augsburg and proved to the people that the Symphonieorchester should not just be there for the audiences in the main city of Munich. Davis supported the foundations of the music festivals “Regensburger Frühling” and “Sommerkonzerte zwischen Donau und Altmühl”.
Working with young people was also very important for Davis. For the newly founded “BR-Orchesterakademie Ingolstadt” he rehearsed a symphonic repertoire with students and pupils.
In May 1992 Davis said goodbye to his musicians – in the same way he had started nine years earlier: with a performance of Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis”. One year later the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks awarded Sir Colin Davis with the Karl Amadeus Hartmann-Medal and therewith showed him their deep solidarity and appreciation.
On April 14, 2013 Sir Colin Davis died after a long illness at the age of 85.