Death of a UK music critic

Death of a UK music critic


norman lebrecht

May 20, 2020

We’ve been notified of the death of Michael Tumelty, excellent critic of the Glasgow Herald until his retirement, aged 65, in 2011.

Many Scottish careers started on his watch.

And he was always, along with the late Conrad Wilson, a friendly colleague.


  • Sue Wilson says:

    So sorry to hear about Michael, a wonderful music critic and close friend and colleague of my late-husband.

  • Alan says:

    RIP, sorry to hear this. A popular figure at so many concerts in Scotland.

  • Scottishlass says:

    A lovely, interesting man. Remember him on tour with the SCO! RIP dear Michael.

  • Douglas Cairns says:

    I am very sorry to hear this and indeed a few days ago I was thinking of some of his reviews. One I particularly loved was when Chandos produced the full Prokofiev set of symphonies under Neeme Järvi and the RSNO on CD. Michael said “if you young ‘uns want to know what we oldies were on about when we staggered from the hall after a Järvi concert, then just listen to this set“ or something similar. As a Scot from the West Coast, I was familiar with his reviews for many years and I know he loved Strauss’s Alpine Symphony especially. He also wrote very eloquently about James MacMillan’s St John Passion.

  • Bill says:

    RIP Michael – such a supportive figure in Scotland’s orchestral and chamber music scene for many years.

    • Jimbo says:

      Agreed, however let’s not forget that unlike those that followed he knew the difference between mediocrity and greatness. He also didn’t follow the parochial line of some existing critics in Scotland by praising to the hilt mediocrity just because it was Scottish. His depth and breadth of musical repertoire like Conrad Wilson’s was superb and is sadly nonexistent now in the current critics who don’t swim or have never swam outside their own small pool.

  • John Gracie. Ex Principal Trumpet RSNO says:

    So sorrow to hear about Michael. We had So many good times and laughs on RSNO tours especially the Austrian ones with Walter Weller and Japan with Neeme Jarvi. Rest in Peace Mike

  • Nick2 says:

    Very sad. Let’s also remember that before Conrad Wilson retired from The Scotsman and moved over to The Herald, his main critic colleague at The Glasgow Herald was Malcolm Raiment. All three contributed in many ways to the encouragement and development of music in Scotland in what were for the most part very exciting times.

  • Janet Murray says:

    Michael was a great critic and friend Will be sadly missed RIP

  • Chris McKenzie says:

    So sorry to hear of Michael’s death. I was very friendly with him when he first left school. And it was not always classical music. He introduced me to Bob Dylan when he was still an unkown.
    Great writer and critic.

    • John McLaren says:

      I just stumbled across this sad news. Mike and I sat next to each other in Year 2 at Garnethill. I bumped into you in Winchester outside WH Smith when you were attending a celebration at your brother’s home. John McLaren (exAKS) now retired in Lanzarote.

  • GM says:

    Sad news always a good read
    Erudite challenging and surprising but always genuine and authoratative criticism I learned a lot from his columns and opened many “New doors ” Loved seeing him prowling the floor at concerts in anticipation of the coming review RIP

  • Michael Tumelty always went the extra mile or two to enthuse: I met him as a teenager and was thrilled enough my his enthusiasm for what music is and what a transformative thing music can be. He let me join the ranks of minor reviewer for a short time, and I will never forget his enthusiasm and warmth. Or how much I learned. A joyful enthusiast who promoted musical performance as a way to understand more, to hear and think before charging in with an opinion. Thank you, Michael.You changed my life immeasurably, and put colour into the lives of so many others and I am hugely grateful to have known you. Scotland will miss you very much indeed.

  • Frances Garden says:

    So sad to read of this today. I knew him at University in Aberdeen, an interesting and original man even then.

  • Hugh Kerr says:

    Sad news Michael was for many years the best music critic in Scotland and always approachable at concerts.

  • Stephen Lipton says:

    A fabulous and musical and knowledgeable critic and acquaintance, was a pleasure to know Michael

  • Susan Morrison says:

    R.I.P. Michael. A much respected critic and human being.