Saturday 5 August 2023


Carl Davis leaves a substantial legacy of music including over 100 television soundtracks, and internationally performed ballets.

American-born conductor and composer Carl Davis CBE has died at 86, died from a brain haemorrhage, his family confirmed in a statement, as they expressed how ‘heartbroken’ they were by their loss.

‘We are heartbroken to announce that Carl Davis (CBE) passed away this morning, following a brain haemorrhage,’ the message read.
‘We are so proud that Carl’s legacy will be his astonishing impact on music. A consummate all-round musician, he was the driving force behind the reinvention of the silent movie for this generation and he wrote scores for some of the most-loved and remembered British television dramas.’

Davis, who has resided in the UK since 1961, was a driving force behind the resurgence of silent films. He scored more than 50 of them, and wrote the soundtracks for some of Britain’s most beloved television dramas.
One of Davis’ most notable achievements is his collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney. In 1991 the compositional duo wrote Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio, a live album recorded to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Classic FM’s Orchestra in the North-West of England, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The eight-movement work was conducted by Davis and marked McCartney’s first foray into the classical music world.

Paul McCartney wrote:

I was very sad to hear that my friend Carl Davis had passed away. Carl and I wrote the 'Liverpool Oratorio' together. It was my first full-length classical venture and I really enjoyed working with him to make it happen. I would show up at his house and we would start writing. I would suggest an idea and he would write it down on the manuscript paper which made it easy for him to play the idea back to me and we progressed like that. He was a very skilful and fun man to be with. His enthusiasm was extremely infectious and we had a great time during the period that we worked together.

When we came to perform the piece at Liverpool Cathedral it was very exciting for me who had once failed an audition for the choir at the cathedral to be back there with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and tremendous soloists Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sir Willard White, Sally Burgess, Jerry Hadley, and a large choir for a very special evening.

I enjoyed my time with Carl very much and send my love and sympathies to his lovely wife, Jean, and their daughters Hannah and Jessie.

Love, Paul

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