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Robert Tear (Tenor)

Born: March 8, 1939 - Barry, Glamorgan, Wales, UK
Died: March 29, 2011 - London, England

The distinguished tenor (and conductor), Robert Tear, was born and educated in Wales. He attended Kingís College, then joined then joined St. Paul's Cathedral as lay chorister, and later became a choral scholar at King's College, Cambridge (1957-1961).

Subsequently Robert Tear embarked on his career as a soloist and quickly established an enviable reputation. Robert tear had a distingished association with the English Opera Group and his interpretations of the tenor roles in the performances of Benjamin Brittenís operas have received special praise. In 1966 he undertook the domanding role of Quint in performances of The Turn of the Screw throughout England and in Leningrad and Moscow during the Opera Groupís highly successful tour of Russia.

Throughout his career Robert Tear has shown his versatility and great talent as one of the world's leading tenors and has worked with eminent conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Carlo Maria Giulini, Josef Krips and Herbert von Karajan. He is sought after by all the major opera houses of Europe and the USA and is a regular guest of various orchestras. His first appearance with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was in 1970. He has also been in great demand at important festivals, including Holland, Versailles, City of London and Edinburgh Festivals.

Robert Tear was a regular guest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, appearing there every season since his debut in l970. In 1988-1989 he made his debut with English National Opera in The Turn of the Screw and the following season included his highly successful debut as Aschenbach in Death in Venice with the Glyndebourne Touring Company, later filmed by BBC TV.

Robert Tear was also greatly in demand as a concert singer, appearing regularly at the South Bank Centre and in many European capitals. He also worked on many television projects, including the Jeunesses Musicales War Requiem performances in East and West Berlin to celebrate the City's 750th Anniversary in l987.

Robert Tear made well over 250 records for every major recording company, including Bach Cantatas, numerous recital records, Victorian ballads with his friends Benjamin Luxon and André Previn, B. Britten's Serenade and Nocturne with Carlo Maria Giulini for DGG and all the major choral works. Recent recordings include B. Britten's War Requiem, Gustav Mahler's Das Klagende Lied (both with Sir Simon Rattle), Die Winterreise with Philip Ledger and one of the first recordings of Arnold Schoenberg's arrangement of G. Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde for BMG Records with Mark Wigglesworth and The Premiere Ensemble. His recording of Dyson's The Canterbury Pilgrims with the London Symphony Orchestra and Richard Hickox for Chandos was released in 1997.

In l985 Robert Tear made his USA conducting debut in Minneapolis and subsequently has worked with the BBC National Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Northern Sinfonia, English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Toulouse Chamber Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The 1997-1998 season included performances of Billy Budd with Welsh National Opera, Dream of Gerontius with the Hallé Orchestra and coaching at the Aix Festival. During the 1998-1999 season, opera performances included The Bartered Bride/ROH, Boris Godunov/ENO, Billy Budd/Australian Opera, Elektra/Bayerische Staatsoper. Concert performances included Das klagende Lied/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Mask of Time/BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC Proms), Elektra/Royal Scottish National Orchestra and solo and conducting engagements with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

In April 2004, Robert Tear marked his 65th birthday with an accomplished Wigmore Hall recital bravely devoted to songs by Britten, Dove and Madeleine Dring. A full house must have gladdened the heart of a singer - "Bob" to his friends - who, over 40 years, had met many exigent challenges with a fine lyric tenor, a questing intellect and altogether admirable musicianship. He made a final performance at the Royal Opera House in London in 2009, as emperor Altoum in Puccini's Turandot.

From 1992-1994 Robert Tear was Artistic Director of the Vocal Faculty of the London Royal Schools of Music, and he currently holds the Chair of International Singing at the Royal Academy of Music. He was an Honorary Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and in l984 was awarded the C.B.E.

Robert Tear married his childhood sweetheart Hilary Thomas in 1961. He died in a London hospice on March 29, 2011 at the age of 72. The cause was cancer. He is survived by his wife, their two daughters, Becky and Lizzie; and two grandchildren. Lizzie Tear has enjoyed a career in pop music.

Source: International Directory of Musicians Website (March 1999); Programme notes to a concert of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Istvan Kertesz performing War Requiem by Britten (May 1970); Various obituaries
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2001); Matthias Hansen (Photo 06 - January 2010); Yoël L. Arbeitman (March 2011, June 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Daniel Barenboim


BWV 243

Benjamin Britten


BWV 245

Herbert von Karajan


BWV 243 [2nd]

Philip Ledger


BWV 243a, BWV 248

Neville Marriner


BWV 159, BWV 232

Johannes Somary


BWV 11, BWV 80, BWV 232

David Willcocks


BWV 244, BWV 245 [sung in English]

Links to other Sites

Robert Tear - Tenor (International Directory of Musicians)
Robert Tear (Wikipedia)

Obituary in The Telegraph
Obituary in The Guardian
Obituary in The Independent
Obituary in The Baltimore Sun
Obituary in Gramophone

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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