Jeffrey Tate

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 16 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2937

Re: Jeffrey Tate

In the obituary for Jeffrey Tate, it is stated that Dr. Tate directed Handel's [opera] Dido and Aeneas.

As is extensively documented, Handel "borrowed" and recycled music by other composers, typically modifying their music while doing so. However, there seems to be no example of his appropriating a whole opera by another composer, without attribution - in this case, a work by Henry Purcell.

If Purcell (1659-1695) had lived longer, it is conceivable that he might have established a self-sustaining tradition of opera in English. Handel might also have been able to establish such a tradition if his secular "oratorios" Semele and Hercules had not had to wait until the 20th century before becoming widely appreciated.

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 June 2017
Martin F Heyworth
Physician and composer
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, and Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Research Service (151), VA Medical Center, University and Woodland Avenues, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA