English conductor and pianist Jeffrey Philip Tate was born in Salisbury on 28 April 1943 with the birth defect spina bifida. He also had kyphosis. He studied medicine at Cambridge, where he directed theatre productions, and worked at St St Thomas' Hospital in London before switching to study music at the former London Opera Centre. He trained with Georg Solti as a repetiteur and coach at Covent Garden.
Following performances with Gothenburg Opera in Sweden in 1978 with New York Metropolitan Opera in 1979, he became first principal conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra and, later, the first principal conductor of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Other appointments were as principal conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, music director of Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, chief conductor of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor and artistic advisor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Conducting from a tall stool because of his disability, and known for his friendly and empathetic style, Tate's recordings include a series of Mozart Piano Concertos with Mitsuko Uchida. He received a British knighthood in 2017 for services to British music overseas.
Jeffrey Tate died suddenly in Bergamo, Italy from a heart attack on 2 June 2017, aged seventy-four, whilst rehearsing the Accademia Carrara. His last two concerts (with the Haydn Orchestra) were on 30 and 31 May in Bolzano and Trento.