Death of a distinguished UK maestro, aged 95

Death of a distinguished UK maestro, aged 95


norman lebrecht

September 17, 2015

Sir David Willcocks, long-serving and much-recorded director of music at King’s College, Cambridge, died today at 95.

Statement from the choir of Kings:

It is with great sadness that we learned this morning of the death of Sir David Willcocks. Sir David died peacefully at home this morning, 17 September, aged 95.

Sir David’s connection with King’s began as an Organ Scholar in 1939; he was elected to a Fellowship in 1947 and subsequently held the post of Director of Music from 1957 to 1974.



  • Robert Levine says:

    I worked with him several times in the 1990s and enjoyed the experience very much. His recording of the Vaughan Williams “Hodie” was a masterpiece.

    • Olassus says:

      Yes! I have that Hodie. Baker, Lewis, Shirley-Quirk, from 1965 — wonderful. He conducted my first John Passion, first Handel Dixit Dominus, first Nelson Mass. Definitely a life well-lived and worth celebrating.

  • Michael Endres says:

    His recording of the Faure recording is an absolute gem !

  • Michael Endres says:

    …PS ..sorry mistyped: Faure Requiem

  • DESR says:

    A great man in many ways. Also, reputedly, the only don at King’s to vote Tory!

  • Roger Luxton says:

    Try as they may, no-one has equalled – let alone bettered – his glorious carol and hymn arrangements, particularly his descants.

  • Roger Luxton says:

    Oh dear – his descants

  • Fred Brown says:

    For years I sang under Sir David’s leadership with the Really Big Chorus with one memorable day when he told the tenors “not to sing so loud”, that raised a laugh! I never missed his Southend singing days, always an inspiration with a determination to sing better each visit. he will be sadly missed by thousands of singers. RIP Sir David, a true gentleman.

  • Yi Peng LI says:

    It’s sad to lose a doyen like him. Though most will remember him for his choral conducting, in King’s and elsewhere, many more might remember his carol arrangements. His Carols for Choirs descants for O come all ye faithful and Hark! the herald-angels sing might be among the most lasting things he did. I think that choirs will keep his name alive whenever they sing these arrangements and more.