Death of an outstanding organist, 75

Death of an outstanding organist, 75


norman lebrecht

March 26, 2020

The renowned organist Jennifer Bate died yesterday at the age of 75.

An authority on the music of Olivier Messiaen, she made premiere recordings of several of his works.

She received state honours in the UK and France and continued performing until recent months. She was married to Sir George Thalben-Ball, president of the Royal College of Organists, from 1968 to 1972.

No cause of death has been given.


  • Spell checker says:


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    How sad a nice lady.

  • msc says:

    Sad news, and she was excellent in so much more than Messiaen. Readers that don’t know this should check out her Mendelssohn and series on Wesley and his contemporaries. That is some range!

    • Michael Smith says:

      Yes! Her recordings ‘From Stanley to Wesley’ are superb, and a vital reminder of the remarkable range of this truly great artist.

  • John Holmes says:

    I remember her at Westminster Cathedral mid 1980’s giving UK premiere of Messiaen “Livre du Saint-Sacrement” in the presence of the composer. Wonderful

    • Micaelo Cassetti says:

      That was indeed a great concert.
      I particularly remember several recordings she made at the RAH – Liszt, Elgar and Reubke amongst them.

  • Bourdon says:

    A very sad loss to cancer

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Oh, gosh, Jennifer Bate…. I’m shocked. 75 is just too young to go. R.I.P., dear Jennifer.
    I’m very familiar with her astonishing, and after the composer’s own, probably definitive recordings of Messiaen.
    But a couple of commenters here have praised other recordings of hers which I am not acquainted with. I will investigate these soonest.

  • I hear her play once, she was amazing.

  • Nicholas Roberts says:

    She gave our augural recital on our new H and H. My memories of that recital are of me filming her feet.