Death of a major music benefactor, 63

Death of a major music benefactor, 63


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2017

The Shanghai businessman, FT columnist and bon viveur Sir David Tang died yesterday of cancer, aged 63. He received the diagnosis only in the past month and had announced that he was planning a farewell party.

Sir David was a pianist of near-professional standard and a board member of many music organisations.

He created China Exchange in London’ Chinatown as a place of bilateral cultural dialogue, involving the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio, among other groups.

His close friends included Isaiah Berlin, Prince Charles, Harvey Weinstein, Zaha Hadid and Gwyneth Paltrow.



  • Graeme Hall says:

    Very sad. He was once due to play Messiaen with David Atherton but broke his arm before the concert. He graciously acknowledged that his replacement Peter Donohoe was an improvement.

  • phf655 says:

    At least on this side of the pond, the appropriate phrase, clearly foreign, is ‘bon vivant’.

  • Margaret Steinitz says:

    Sir David Tang served as President of the London Bach Society from 1998 until his death on the evening of 29 August. He was a kind, generous and active patron who brought his flair and imagination for our considerable benefit. We shall miss his humour and positive spirit, as well as his concern for our welfare over nearly 20 years. We are more than just grateful for his support. Our tribute is posted on our website
    RIP David.

  • David Tang is a very talented person. If you hear him swear in Cantonese with such fluency. It is music to your ears. He did it to me for half an hour non-stop in Hong Kong. I miss his column in the Financial Times. I also contributed letters to editor in the FT myself..

  • Nick says:

    David was actually born and lived most of the the time in Hong Kong – not Shanghai. The confusion may have arisen from the name of one of his many business ventures, Shanghai Tang. His passions covered a wide array of interests apart from music and included cigars (he went to meet Fidel Castro to obtain the rights to distribute the best Cuban cigars in Asia), Recognising that the old-fashioned Hong Kong Club catered to a rather snooty section of Hong Kong society, mostly expatriates, he took delight in taking over two floors of the then recently abandoned Bank of China building to open the first China Club, with bars and a splendid Chinese restaurant with walls adorned with Mao era paintings. This quickly became the “in” place to eat and be seen. Further Clubs opened in Beijing and Singapore.

    David was never afraid to be politically correct or to call a spade a spade. He raised large sums in Hong Kong for numerous charities, particularly for the Cancer Fund of which he was Chairman for many years. A socialite and bon viveur in the nicest sense he would often be seen with royalty and celebrities, many of whom became long-time friends.

    I had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions. Once, when a mutual and well-known friend was visiting fHong Kong from London, he suggested I take him to the China Club for dinner where he would pay the bill. When I mentioned that I was not a member, he generously made me a complimentary member for a week and took care of all my bills. David was a totally unique outsize personality. He will be much missed.

    • Frankie Leung says:

      I saw David more often in air-ports than any where. He has a typical English school boy mischief and wit.

  • Frankie Leung says:

    David has died for almost a year. He is still irreplaceable in life.