Tate, Phyllis (1911–1987)

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Tate, Phyllis (1911–1987)

British composer. Born in Gerrard's Cross, England, on April 6, 1911; died in 1987; studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music, 1928–32; married Alan Frank, in 1935; children: two.

Joined Composers' Guild (1959); served on the board of Performing Rights Society's Members' Fund, the first woman to do so (1976–81); received many commissions from important sponsors, including the BBC and the Royal Academy of Music; wrote Concerto for Saxophone and Strings (1944), the opera The Lodger, based on the story of Jack the Ripper (1960), and Serenade to Christmas for soprano, chorus and orchestra (1972).

Phyllis Tate, who mastered virtually all genres of music, had a long, successful career. She was particularly effective in setting words to music, and composed a number of works that not only impressed their premiere audiences but were able to find their way into the repertoire of major choral societies in Great Britain and other English-speaking countries. Tate composed relatively little purely orchestral music, but several of these works, including a 1933 Cello Concerto entitled St. James Park—A Lakeside Reverie, deserve to be revived. One of her most imaginative works, which fortunately has been recorded, is her 1968 work Apparitions—Ballade for Tenor, Harmonica, String Quartet and Piano. Also impressive and dramatically effective is Tate's 1976 work for narrator, soloists, chorus and orchestra, St. Martha and the Dragon. Tate was a champion of the economic interests of composers, serving from 1976 through 1981 as the first woman member of the board of the Performing Rights Society's Members' Fund.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia