2 June 2017

Jeffrey Tate, 74, Conductor of Magisterial Clarity and Compassion, has Died

News Jeffrey Tate hdl 617 
Jeffrey Tate
© matthias@mramor.de
 

JEFFREY TATE
Salisbury, England, April 28, 1943—Bergamo, Italy, June 2, 2017 

JEFFREY TATE WAS AN INSPIRING presence in the world of classical music, an artist who overcame the physical disabilities of spina bifida and kyphosis to achieve a four-decade career of abiding excellence in opera and symphonic music, conducting performances of magisterial clarity and compassion in the works of Mozart, Wagner and Richard Strauss. Originally trained as a doctor—he received a medical degree from Cambridge and completed a residency at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London—Tate attended the London Opera Center on scholarship and in 1971 became a répétiteur on the coaching staff at Covent Garden. There Tate began a professional relationship with music director Georg Solti that eventually extended to assisting him on ten complete opera recordings. Pierre Boulez chose Tate to assist him on the celebrated 1976 Ring at Bayreuth—Tate would go on to conduct more than twenty complete Rings of his own—and on the 1979 premiere of the complete Lulu at the Paris Opera.

 

Tate’s 1978 conducting debut, with Carmen at Göteborg, began his rapid international professional rise. He assisted James Levine on the 1979 Met premiere of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny; the following year, Tate made his Met conducting debut, replacing James Levine on three hours’ notice for a single Lulu. In 1982, Tate led La Clemenza di Tito at Covent Garden, where he took up the post of principal conductor in 1986. By the end of the decade, Tate had made his conducting debuts at Nice, Paris, Hamburg, Cologne, Salzburg, Vienna, Geneva, Berlin and Carnegie Hall. For six seasons, he was a regular presence at the Met, where his most frequent assignments were Così Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, Die Fledermaus, Idomeneo and Der Rosenkavalier. 

Tate served as first principal conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra (1985–2000), principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1991–95) and music director of the Teatro San Carlo, Naples (2005–10). He became chief conductor of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra in 2009, and at the time of his death was contracted to remain in that position through 2019.

Tate died suddenly, of a heart attack, while rehearsing the Accademia Carrara in Italy. Six weeks before his death, he was knighted for his services to music.  —F. Paul Driscoll 

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