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In renouncing heroism and all sense of self, Davis now begged the question: how do you still lead your players?

And his answer was you do it by sharing the performance rather than imposing it.

If things went awry, no matter who was responsible, he would smile and ask: “If I could just try that again.” As a musician in the LSO once told me: “He does lead: there’s never any doubt about what he wants, and he gets it. And it leaves you space, in which you’re forced to listen carefully to what’s happening around you.

He had learnt, he said, some hard lessons: among them, the painful consequences and ultimate unproductivity of power.

And his intention was to be an ego-less conductor, an aspiration that many of us at the time thought implausible if not undesirable.

And most conductors carry on until they drop – as was the case with Colin Davis, who persisted to the end through physical fragility and health scares. But if you mean I ought to be conducting every night as though it were my last…

But a certain mindfulness of death was something he commended to his younger colleagues.

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