A memorial Dream for Sir Jeffrey Tate

A memorial Dream for Sir Jeffrey Tate


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2017

From the US tenor Brenden Gunnell: 


It was with shock and great sadness that we all learned of the sudden death of Sir Jeffrey Tate two days ago. I am very fortunate to count myself among the many musician’s and singer’s lives he touched, inspired and influenced, having debuted many of the important roles and repertoire of my career under his guiding baton.

I first sang with Sir Jeffrey in 2012 in Edward Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, with the Hamburger Symphoniker. This was a piece that was very near to both our hearts, and it was for both of us a debut. It remains one of the seminal and defining experiences of my professional career. After the final chord, there was a minute’s silence from an enthralled audience before the applause ruptured the hall. Sir Jeffrey simply leaned down to me and said “I think they’ve understood it”. I will cherish and carry that moment with me for the rest of my life.

It was with bittersweet coincidence that Sir Jeffrey passed on from us on what would have been Sir Edward Elgar’s 160th birthday, and occurring for myself during a rehearsal here in Dortmund, of course, of Elgar’s Gerontius…

Together with Maestro Granville Walker, Thorsten Mosgraber, Director of the Klangvokal Festival Dortmund, and representatives of the Dortmund Philharmonic, we thought it necessary and befitting Sir Jeffrey’s memory to dedicate our performance publicly, in grateful thanks for all the wonderful moments so many of us were fortunate enough to have shared with him. May he rest “..softly and gently, dearly ransom’d Soul.”

Thank you, Sir Jeffrey.



  • Alexander Radziewski says:

    Dear Brenden, I appreciate very much your warm words towards Jeffrey Tate. As a member of the Symphoniker in Hamburg I have participated in all (except one) performances Jeffrey Tate did with us including the performance of Gerontius. The next performance of this piece was announced for the Rheingau Festival at the end of August. We will miss him very much. All the best for you.

    Alex Radziewski

  • Delphine1962 says:

    Thank you so much for this. I haven’t wept over the loss of a musician for long time; I simply adored Jeffrey Tate and i so wish I could have met him – at least once.

    • Brenden Gunnell says:

      he was truly remarkable. razor sharp wit. love of good food. hated cheese! loved noel
      coward. read anything he could get his hands on. And then there was the music that just seemed to leak out of him.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    Brenden Gunnell replaced Toby Spence (indisposed) as the announced tenor soloist in that 2012 performance of Gerontius in Hamburg which I too attended. Brenden gave an absolutely superb performance, not least of “Take me away”, and I can well imagine that Jeffrey Tate cherished the memory of that wonderful evening until his dying day.

  • Iain Scott says:

    The only time I heard Jefftey Tate conduct was by chance in Naples. It was a performance of Seraglio and it was simply glorious. It was not brisk- far from it- but I’m still not sure why it was so memorable. The humanity and live perhaps that emanated from him to the wonderful San Carlo orchestra and singers .

  • PB says:

    The last time I had the privilege of working with Jeffrey was in Hamburg (also with Brenden who did a great job!) in a concert performance of Königskinder. He was not only a great musician but one of the most wonderful human beings it has been my privilege to work with. I will also never forget the first “Sitzprobe” of Rosenkavalier in Madrid where during the big trio, virtually all the members of the chorus onstage one by one were in floods of tears due solely to the way let the music magically unfold……..

  • Jill Denbigh says:

    He was my beloved brother and I miss him more than words can say.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      The whole music world is shocked by his departure. Everyone remembers him with an immediate fond smile.

      • Brenden Gunnell says:

        it was a very special concert this evening. and i don’t shy from saying hat i simply bowed my head and wept during the Angel’s Farewell. I have sung my best for him.

  • Hans-Helmut Götte says:

    Thank you for the special and great performance in Dortmund where I was a member of the chorus. I could imagine very well that you have sung your best for Mr. Tate – and I think, so did the audience.