The School is proud to introduce the Sir Colin Davis music scholarship in memory of this most remarkable musician.
Colin Davis was the president and longest serving principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. He was born in 1927 and educated at Christ’s Hospital, from 1939 – 1945. From a large family, he was one of seven children and as a consequence of his father’s deteriorating health, they were a poor family. It was Davis’s great-uncle who suggested Christ’s Hospital and following his education at the School, he gained a full scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London.
Davis’s most recent involvement with Christ’s Hospital was just over ten years’ ago, when to celebrate the School’s 450th anniversary, he joined pupil musicians to conduct a musical extravaganza to mark this special occasion at the Barbican. Davis delighted in working both individually and in small groups with the pupils.
An extract of an interview published in 2006 by the Times Educational Supplement ‘My best teacher’ by Rachel Pugh – Davis said of his old school:-
“Neither of my parents were musicians, but there was lots of music at home as my two elder brothers and four sisters all loved it. It was at Christ’s Hospital, where I went as a boarder at 12 during the war, that the world of music opened up for me.
Christ’s Hospital was a marvelous school. I remember the red brick buildings and the houses going up the avenue and the chapel. It was plonked in the middle of the countryside. I used to go walking and bird watching from there. That need to escape to the countryside remains important to me to this day. What seemed so wonderful to me, even at that early stage, was that every teacher, whatever they taught, seemed to play an instrument.
At first I was going to be a clarinetist but then at 14 I decided that I wanted to be part of the whole musical experience, not just one aspect of it, and I would be a conductor. The School accepted this and I was given money to buy scores. The very interesting music master Dr Johnson tried to teach me the piano (without success), and encouraged me to turn pages for him in concerts, to develop the basics of score reading. I was rejected for the conducting course at the Royal College of Music, because I could not play the piano, so I went as a clarinetist.”
Andrew Cleary, Director of Music at Christ’s Hospital said: “Sir Colin Davis was a much respected and world-class musician. We are immensely proud that somebody who gave so much to music was a pupil here at Christ’s Hospital. Like so many Old Blues who have experienced a life-changing opportunity at the School, Colin Davis went on to inspire so many. We are honoured to be able to offer such a prestigious scholarship to inspire a young musician at the School and keep Sir Colin’s association with our School alive amongst our pupils.”