Deserved Tribute for Tumelty to Mark his Retirement

The Herald carried almost a full-page feature on its arts page yesterday to mark the official retirement of its classical music writer for the past 28 years: Michael Tumelty.

Career highlights of Tumelty, who will continue to write for the Herald as a freelance, include exclusive interviews with Leonard Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith, and he championed the early careers of Lisa Milne, James McMillan and Nicola Benedetti.

The paper’s arts editor, Keith Bruce, who worked alongside Tumelty for the past 25 years, described Tumelty in the feature as …”the nation’s most distinctive classical music pundit”.

He wrote: “Michael has become what the editor [Arnold Kemp] who employed us both would refer to as ‘box office’. It is an appropriate term for this area of journalistic endeavour.

“What Arnold Kemp meant was that his name sold newspapers. People bought – and continue to buy – The Herald to read what he has to say, even when they suspect that it may not concur with their own view.

“His name is also the reason that classical music has its own little niche in the website.

“When his predecessor, Malcolm Rayment, was retiring, Michael was principal music teacher at St Columba’s High School in Clydebank and contributing concert reviews to the northern edition of the Daily Telegraph (a gig he was succeeded in, curiously, by the head teacher who now reviews classical music for The Scotsman).

“It was the press officer at the Scottish National Orchestra, the late Lynne Walker, who tipped him [Tumelty] off about the vacancy, so the national orchestra must have rated his reviews.”

“In May, 2004 ….Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumour with symptoms originally taken for keyboard-related repetitive strain injury. Over the following year he had a series of operations, and became very ill, contracting meningitis while in hospital, but still managed to cover the Edinburgh Festival as usual.

“Seven years later, although he has damage to his peripheral vision and can no longer drive, he continues to show improvement and the prognosis is very good.

“One way or another, Michael has earned his retirement but, partly because he is not lost to us entirely, the prognosis for classical music coverage in The Herald is looking healthy too.”