CARL DAVIS (b 1936 )
Born in New York, Carl Davis continues to draw on his early years of work, which provided him with his broad musical background. In 1959, with his fellow student Stephen Vinaver, he wrote the revue Diversions, which won him an Obie (Off-Broadway). When it was presented at the 1961 Edinburgh Festival and then in London, Ned Sherrin commissioned him to compose for That Was The Week That Was, paving the way for many radio and television commissions, from the BBC’s acclaimed Pride and Prejudice to The Naked Civil Servant and Good Night Mr Tom. His feature film scores include The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Champions, Scandal, Ken Russell’s The Rainbow, Widow’s Peak, Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvy and The Book of Eve. Carl Davis has composed a unique series of scores for restored prints of silent films, originally commissioned by Channel 4 in 1980. The series featured Abel Gance’s epic film Napoleon, and in 1983 the French Minister of Culture presented him with the order of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres after a screening of the film in Paris.
Live cinema performances of other classic films continue to take place around the world, and his association with the London Philharmonic Orchestra has led to regular presentations of these classic films from the silent era. For eight years Carl Davis held the post of Artistic Director and Conductor for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Summer Pops Season. As part of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s 150th anniversary celebrations, he and Paul McCartney wrote Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio, given its première under Davis at the Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool, in June 1991 and subsequently around the world.
He has shown particular skill in composing music for dance, with a number of ballet scores to his credit. In 1999 he made his début at the BBC Proms with a concert of film music with the BBC Concert Orchestra. The association continues with Proms in the Park. In 1992 he received an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University, and in 1994 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Bard College in New York. More recently, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by Liverpool University. In 2003 he received a BAFTA Special Lifetime Achievements Award for his contribution to the worlds of film and television. In the same year he received an award for Best Score with An Angel for May at the Ale Kino Film Festival in Poland. In July 2005 he was awarded the CBE (Hon) for the significant contribution he has made to the world of music as both composer and conductor over the years.