Tuesday 29 March 2011


The death has been announced of the great Welsh tenor Robert Tear at the age of 72.

Tear was one of the great performers in operas by Britten (Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw and Aschenbach in Death in Venice) and Tippett but he also used his magnificent voice in the service of a diversity of composers from Bach, Mozart and Monteverdi to Elgar and Vaughan Williams. And, long before cross-over became fashionable for opera-singers, he recorded A A Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh hums sung to the original settings by H Fraser-Simson!

Here he is singing Charles Dibdin's 18th century song, 'Tom Bowling'...

Tom never from his word departed,
His virtues were so rare;
His friends were many and true-hearted,
His Poll was kind and fair:
And then he’d sing so blithe and jolly,
Ah, many’s the time and oft!
But mirth is turned to melancholy,
For Tom is gone aloft.



JK said...

Tear's excited tenor was a highlight of a Beethoven 9th Symphony I saw in Birmingham, with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus.

Tear also sang in the first BBC Prom I ever attended in 1999: Michael Tippett's Mask of Time. If anyone could make a Tippett lyric like "juice excreted by her own ovipositor" sound musical, it was Robert Tear.

SharonM said...

Very sad.

Robert Tear was our Guest Artiste many years ago, when I sang with the Glasgow Jewish Choral Society.

He had a lovely voice and was a charming man.

Brian Sibley said...

James and Sharon – Thanks for your personal recollections of this great singer. I loved the phrase used of him in one of the obituaries: "he had a cast-iron technique" – so mellifluous a voice being described in such solid, dependable terms!