Arthur Davison | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Arthur Davison

Arthur (Clifford Percival) Davison. Conductor, violinist, b Montreal 25 Sep 1918, d Sutton, near London, 23 Aug 1992; LRSM 1947, ARCM 1950, FRAM 1966, honorary M MUS (Wales) 1974.

Davison, Arthur

Arthur (Clifford Percival) Davison. Conductor, violinist, b Montreal 25 Sep 1918, d Sutton, near London, 23 Aug 1992; LRSM 1947, ARCM 1950, FRAM 1966, honorary M MUS (Wales) 1974. He studied violin privately with Camille Couture and in 1943 enrolled at the CMM, where his teachers were Couture and Maurice Onderet. He also attended the McGill Cons. He was concertmaster of the Montreal Youth Symphony Orchestra 1945-8 and during those years gave solo recitals in public and on CBC radio. In 1948 he won an AB scholarship which enabled him to study at the RAM in London. He soon began to play in London orchestras and chamber ensembles, and was principal second violin of the London Philharmonia Orchestra in 1954 when it toured Europe under Herbert von Karajan. He later joined the London Philharmonic, becoming assistant concertmaster in 1964, then concertmaster later, and serving on the board of that self-governing orchestra.

Davison's interest in conducting had begun in his student days when he received advice from Wilfrid Pelletier at the CMM. In the mid-1950s he conducted the London Youth SO and made periodic trips to the continent to study with Franco Ferrara. He visited Canada in 1955 to conduct the orchestra for an appearance of the New York City Ballet on CBC TV's 'L'Heure du concert' and to give violin recitals on CBC radio, also recording, with Ross Pratt, duos by Marais, Brahms, and Berkeley (RCI 138). The following year, with John Newmark on CBC radio, he gave the premiere of Kenins'Sonata for violin and piano.

During the 1960s Davison became increasingly busy as a conductor. He has appeared with many orchestras, including the BBC SO, CBC Symphony Orchestra, London SO, New York City Ballet orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He was appointed director of the London Little Symphony in 1964, and after a concert by that orchestra the reviewer for The Times remarked: 'Mr. Davison's conducting both demanded and received sophistication and stylishness from his experienced orchestra' (July 1964). He was a guest conductor of the Royal Danish Ballet that year, became assistant conductor of the Bournemouth SO in 1965, and conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 1966. Also in 1966 he founded in Croydon (South London) the Arthur Davison Concerts for Children. By 1970, when he was named director of the Virtuosi of England (a recording ensemble), he had ceased appearing publicly as a violinist. In 1971 he became music director and lecturer at Goldsmiths' College, U of London, and in 1973 he was appointed a governor and lectured at the Welsh College of Music and Drama. He has appeared regularly on BBC radio and TV as a conductor and commentator, and on Scandinavian TV as a guest conductor. His 1973 conducting tour of Europe was filmed by the BBC and Davison has lectured and adjudicated in several countries. In 1974 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to music, and in 1977 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. When the sales of his recordings exceeded one million he received in 1977 a Gold Disc from EMI. In 1981 he was named Orchestral Director of the symphony orchestras of the Birmingham School of Music. Davison continued to guest conduct orchestras in London, including the Royal Philharmonic, up until his death.