We are devastated to learn of the death of Matthew Rye, one of our regular Bachtrack writers. It was in 2015 that Matthew got in touch with us offering his services as a reviewer, which came both as a surprise and a true honour from someone who had such a distinguished career as a critic, principally for The Daily Telegraph. He also worked at BBC Music Magazine and was reviews editor at The Strad. He was general editor of 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die, which adorns at least two Bachtrack editors’ book shelves. 

Matthew Rye
© Matthew Rye

Matthew was a Wagner nut. He wrote for (and was reviews editor at) The Wagner Journal. He reviewed the last two Bayreuth Ring cycles (Frank Castorf and Valentin Schwarz) for us. His interest in neglected – particularly German – operas took him around Europe. There was nothing he liked more than travelling around smaller German houses – Hanover, Mannheim, Düsseldorf, Nuremberg, Aachen – to review things like Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Paul Dessau’s Die Verurteilung des Lukullus, Schreker's Die Gezeichneten or Henze’s The Bassarids. He had the ability to “read” a production astutely – witness his excellent accounts of Frank Castorf’s Bayreuth Ring cycle – but never “talked down” to his readers. He wore his considerable knowledge lightly. He was one of the first to acclaim Simon Stone’s award-winning production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt at Bayerische Staatsoper in 2019. 

He was the loveliest of men, very supportive and inordinately grateful for the opportunities we gave him to review. He never used his undoubted seniority as a writer to expect plum commissions. One of my final email exchanges with him was in response to my Christmas greeting message, where he thanked us for “gifting me such a rich panoply of musical treats this year”. It was us that should have been thanking him. A humble, gentle, brilliant man. RIP.