The Hallé is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Carl Davis.
His remarkable catalogue of compositions for film, television and the stage will be listed in many places, but one of his – and our – proudest achievements was The Last Train to Tomorrow. Commissioned by the Hallé it told the story of the Kindertransport, which saw over 10,000 children rescued from the Nazis between 1938 and 1939. The first performance, in Manchester, gave the Hallé’s Children’s Choir (amongst many others) a chance to shine, and the whole production was am acclaimed success.
Carl gave everything to his conducting. As he came onto the stage for one of our Summer Prom concerts, he turned to the orchestra to begin the performance, revealing that he had embroidered a huge yellow sun flower into the back of the frock coat – that year’s Hallé Prom image. Another Christmas season saw him wheeled on to the stage by his wife, Jean Boht, having broken his leg only days before, but determined that the show must go on. Complete with plastered leg. He will be remembered by many for championing silent films, and the scores he composed to bring them new life. His Charlie Chaplin greats and Flesh and the Devil were astonishing achievements.
Carl once said that it took him about an hour to orchestrate one minute of music, after the theme had been worked out. Perhaps composition was his greatest love, but the showman was never far away.