yrmusic.comartistsbiosToby Tate

Toby Tate (1933-2001)

Toby was born in Washington, D. C. to Elizabeth and Jack Tate. His mother was an English teacher and his father was a civil servant. Tobyís brother, Wood lives in Princeton. Toby married Myra Starkman in 1953 and they had two daughters, Valerie and Louise. Louise lives in New York. Valerie lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Myra is a voice teacher and choir director and lives in Kensington, Maryland.

At the age of seven Toby began taking piano lessons. He was a student of Alexander Sklarevski and continued his studies at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore with Sklarevski . He began the study of compostion with Spencer Huffman.

When Toby was nineteen he was introduced to jazz . This music colored the rest of his life. He was fascinated by the improvisatory style of the great jazz artists of the fifties. He spent time in New York where he heard Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and many others who changed the way he thought about music.

Toby loved to teach composition and piano and spent most of his life giving lessons and writing music for his students.

In the fifties and sixties he played jazz piano in clubs and sessions in and around Washington. But he was not comfortable as a performer and preferred to write words and music for others to play and sing.

Toby wrote three musical dramas. Foolsplay is a black comedy which takes place in a circus. The accompaniment is a jazz rhythm section, the players improvising on the chord changes of the songs. The Stone Angel is a bitter tale of lost love, written for voices and a woodwind ensemble. The Crossing Point is for Chorus, Soloists, String Quartet and Percussion, and is a wrenching polemic against war.

For The Choir of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, Toby wrote choral anthems using his own words. The only exception is To make a prairie, a poem by Emily Dickinson.

One of Tobyís most often performed pieces is the cycle for voice and piano which he wrote for the contemporary music performer, Phyllis Bryn Julson. It is titled Love and Loss and can be sung by a tenor as well.

Other vocal cycles include Images for soprano or tenor and piano, and Seasons in the Sky for soprano or tenor and string quartet.

Tobyís passion was the human voice. He left over forty songs, some of which are Tobyís re-translations of American Indian, Chinese and Japanese poetry which he loved. The rest of the songs are to his own poetry. All his music is available for performance and most of them can be had in alternative keys. There are a number of songs specifically for baritone. Contact Myra Tate at singforjoy@worldnet.att.net for more information.


Music by Toby Tate

YR2T14 Beatitudes
YR2T15 Blessing of Water...
YR2T11 Here and Now
YR2T13 I Will Sing Prais...
YR2T16 If I Could
YR2T17 To Make a Prairie
YR2T12 When?

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