born on 28/4/1943 in Salisbury, England, United Kingdom
died on 2/6/2017 in Bergamo, Lombardia, Italy
Sir Jeffrey Philip Tate CBE (28 April 1943 – 2 June 2017) was an English conductor of classical music. After studying medicine at the University of Cambridge and beginning a medical career in London, he switched to music and worked under Georg Solti at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, before making his conducting debut in 1979 at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. He held conducting appointments with the English Chamber Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, among others, and was the first person to be appointed principal conductor of the Royal Opera House. Tate was born with spina bifida and had an associated spinal curvature. As a disabled gay musician, he regarded himself as an outsider in two ways. He was knighted for his services to music in 2017.
Tate was born in Salisbury, England, with spina bifida, a major birth defect, and also had an associated spinal curvature, kyphosis. His family moved to Farnham, Surrey, when he was young and he attended Farnham Grammar School between 1954 and 1961, gaining a State Scholarship to Cambridge University, where he directed theatre productions. Tate initially read medicine at Christ's College, Cambridge (1961–64), specializing in eye surgery. He later worked at St Thomas's Hospital, London, before giving up his clinical career to study music at the London Opera Centre. He became a repetiteur and a coach at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, under the tutelage of Sir Georg Solti.
Tate's international conducting début was with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1979. In 1985, he was appointed the first principal conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra (ECO), and held the post until 2000. His recordings with the ECO included issues with EMI of symphonies of Haydn. In September 1986, Tate became principal conductor of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the first person in the company's history to have that title. He held this Covent Garden post until 1991, and subsequently became principal guest conductor at Covent Garden from 1991 to 1994. He was principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from 1991 to 1995. In 2005, Tate was appointed music director of the San Carlo Theatre of Naples, remaining in the post until 2010.
In October 2007, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Tate as its next chief conductor. He formally took up the post in 2009. In February 2014, the orchestra announced the extension of his contract as chief conductor until 2019. He held the Hamburg post until his death on 2 June 2017. Tate was principal guest conductor and artistic adviser of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, in part as a result of his association with the orchestra from a 1998 production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, from 2016 until his death.
Tate's recordings include a series of Mozart piano concertos with Dame Mitsuko Uchida. Tate was president of UK Spina Bifida charity ASBAH (now SHINE [Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus, Information, Networking, Equality]) from 1989. A portrait of Jeffrey Tate is in David Blum's book Quintet, Five Journeys toward Musical Fulfillment (Cornell University Press, 1999). It originally appeared as an article in 30 April 1990 issue of The New Yorker.
In private life, Tate was partners with Klaus Kuhlemann, a German geomorphologist, whom he met when conducting at Cologne from 1977. Tate has described this situation as being an outsider on two scores:
The gay world is immensely hung up with physical perfection for some curious reason ... Therefore, being disabled in that world is harder.
Tate and Kuhlemann eventually married.
Tate was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to British music overseas. He was also appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1990 Birthday Honours. Tate conducted his last concerts on 30 and 31 May 2017, in Bolzano and Trento, with the Haydn Orchestra. He died of a heart attack in Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy, on 2 June 2017 at the age of 74. Kuhlemann, his spouse, survives him.
- Tom Service (13 October 2011). "Jeffrey Tate: 'I've had to fight all my life'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- David Blum (19 June 1994). "Bucking the Biggest Odds of All". New York Times. Retrieved 12 October 2007.
- Edward Greenfield (October 1989). "Haydn Symphonies Nos 99 & 101". Gramophone. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
- "Royal Opera Appoints Tate as Top Conductor". New York Times. 6 December 1984. Retrieved 12 October 2007.
- "Remembering Jeffrey Tate, former Principal Conductor of The Royal Opera" (Press release). Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
- Peter Krause (29 October 2007). "Jeffrey Tate wird neuer Chefdirigent". Die Welt. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
- Kevin Shihoten (5 November 2007). "Jeffrey Tate Replaces Andrey Boreyko as Hamburg Symphony Chief Conductor". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
- "Jeffrey Tate und Daniel Kühnel verlängern bis 2019" (PDF) (Press release). Hamburg Symphony. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- Dinitia Smith (8 April 1997). "Rapturous Sorrow From a Pianist of Intellectual Rigor". New York Times. Retrieved 12 October 2007.
- David Blum, Quintet: Five Journeys Towards Musical Fulfillment, p. 59. Retrieved 11 January 2014
- Ben Holgate, "Tate à Tate", The Weekend Australian, Review, 26–27 September 1998, p. 17
- Carola Große (2 June 2017). "Sir Jeffrey Tate ist tot". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N2.
- "No. 52173". The London Gazette. 15 June 1990. p. 9.
- "Si sente male all'Accademia Carrara Muore direttore d'orchestra Jeffrey Tate". L'Eco di Bergamo. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- Biography from Hamburg Symphony (State: 2011)
- Biography from allmusic
- Theatre San Carlo
- Pieces, 2002 (article in Christ's College newsletter)
- "Jeffrey Tate: 'You can't terrify people any more; you have to do it with love'". The Guardian podcast with Christopher Cook, 13 October 2011
- DON GIOVANNI (Audio only, YouTube.)
- Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony (#41), video, YouTube
- Interview with Jeffrey Tate, July 28, 1982 (Very early, at the beginning of his conducting career; much about Wagner and Tate's involvement with the Boulez Ring at Bayreuth.