The highly acclaimed British films and television shows for which Carl Davis composed the soundtrack, including the critically significant 1973 broadcast of the critically acclaimed World War II documentary series “The World at War,” have sadly departed away.
The 86-year-old American conductor and composer Carl Davis is known for creating the music for multiple critically acclaimed British films and television series.
Davis, who is arguably best known for writing the music for the very influential 1973 documentary series “The World at War” on World War II, passed away in Oxford on Thursday after suffering a brain hemorrhage, according to a statement from his family.
“We are so happy that Carl’s legacy will be his tremendous influence on music,” the family said. A superb multi-instrumentalist, he led the push to bring the silent movie back for this era and composed music for some of the most cherished and recollected British drama series.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1936, Davis began his professional life in New York, where he became well-known as co-author of the 1959 off-Broadway Emmy-winning revue “Diversions.” After that, he moved to Britain and attended the 1961 Edinburgh Festival.
Once in London, Davis composed music for the National Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company, putting him at the center of the country’s theater, television, and film industries. He received numerous awards on British television, including BBC 1995, ” Pride & Prejudice”.
His soundtrack for “The World at War,” which had Laurence Olivier narrating and ran for 26 weeks on the commercial network ITV, is his most well-known television composition. The mood for the genuine, non-sensationalist horror that followed was set by his ominous theme music.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, was Davis’s most popular film and brought him a BAFTA award—Britain’s version of an Oscar. Other noteworthy film credits include the John Hurt-starring film “Champions” from 1984 and the Ian McKellen and Joanne Whalley film “Scandal” from 1989.
In addition, he composed and recreated the music for more than 50 silent movies including notable actors like Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin.
In addition, he composed ballet scores that have been played all over the world and symphonic concert works.
Richard King, CEO of Faber Music, stated, “Carl was a central figure in our portfolio since his arrival in 1990, over half of the company’s existence.” “Our thoughts and prayers are with Carl’s family during this difficult time, and we are humbled and happy to have performed alongside such a compositional giant.”
Davis is survived by his wife Jean Boht, their two daughters, and three grandkids. The late Queen Elizabeth II named him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005.