Intended for healthcare professionals


Jeffrey Tate

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 16 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2937
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London
  1. penny.warren{at}

Eminent conductor who traded medicine for the podium

Credit: Artists Management Zurich

In 1966 medical student Jeffrey Tate had a shock. Speaking about it later to the BBC, he said: “I failed my exams. I got entangled in a rather wonderful opera workshop at St Thomas’ and spent more time coaching Rhine maidens than walking the wards. So I failed my finals.”

Music and medicine were jostling for Tate’s attention. Waiting to do his retakes, he met John Kentish from the London Opera Centre. He was offered a one year place, which Kentish kept open for two years while Tate successfully retook his medical exams and did two house jobs—including one in eye surgery. But the offer would not stay open forever.

Severely affected by spinal curvature, Tate had been told he would not have a full life expectancy. Feeling he had to seize the day, he said: “They had kept the place open for two years. I decided I had to give it a whirl.”

From inpatient to medic

Tate was born in Salisbury on 28 …

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