Anyone who had the privilege of knowing Klaus Tennstedt will be aware that without the cajoling and constant care of his wife, Inge, he would never have set foot on a concert stage. Klaus was a victim of self-reflection, verging on paralytic self-doubt.
Hours before his US debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Klaus phoned home to say he couldn’t do it. ‘Go in there and conduct! So, bitte!‘ she instructed, and put down the phone. The event was healined next morning as Bruckner – Tennstedt – BSO – Once in a Lifetime.
A hard-working mezzo when they met, Inge gave up her career and her country, East Germany, to follow Klaus into the unknown. She put up with a lot of misery and never reaped her share of his fame, but her complaints were few and her devotion unwavering. She loved a good joke and often lamented her inability to share Swabian subtleties in other languages. She once cooked me a cod in mustard sauce: I still savour the taste.
So deep was she in the background that I have no pictures of her (please get in touch if you have one to share).
She died this weekend in an old-age home, 13 years after her glorious Klaus.
Requiescat in pace.