A Fond Adieu to Sir David Tang

The Glenn Gould Foundation is saddened to announce the death today of Sir David Tang, the Hong Kong and British businessman who founded the Shanghai Tang fashion house and many other successful ventures.

Sir David became a director of The Glenn Gould Foundation in March 2009 and continued to serve on the board until the present.

He also served as a juror for the Tenth Glenn Gould Prize, taking part in the selection of director Robert Lepage as Laureate and was a dynamic force in the deliberations.

David Tang earned renown both for his acumen in business, his wit, charm and philanthropy. He served the public good in a vast array of ways, as a director of the South Bank Centre and was a patron of the London Symphony, a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts, President of the London Bach Society and as chairman of the Asia-Pacific Acquisitions Committee at the Tate. He founded the Hong Kong Cancer Fund and was Vice-Chair of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, the President of the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association and Patron of the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation.

He also gained fame as a bon vivant who counted many of the great figures in the arts, business, politics and royalty among his friends, and for many was best-known as writer of the Financial Times’ weekly “Agony Uncle” (advice) column. His generosity, often anonymous, was legendary, as was his hospitality. As a small example: when the Foundation was asked by the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada to present a concert in Beijing for the 2014 APEC Summit, Sir David insisted on hosting our group at his spectacular China Club, where we were treated to hospitality on a regal scale.

When we approached Sir David to join the Foundation’s board he immediately responded, “I adore Glenn Gould and would be honoured to help in any way I can.” Over time, we learned that this was typical of his generous spirit.

He was a lifelong lover of the arts, fine design, good living, great cigars and was a passionate amateur pianist. I had the pleasure of hearing him play once, in the livingroom of the equally legendary Dame Fanny Waterman, founder of the Leeds Piano Competition, and can attest to his musical accomplishment.

In person, Sir David was kind, but had a sharp and penetrating wit, and irrascible nature and a keen sense of irony, but there was always a deeper side - a belief in the importance of hard work and of contributing to the larger community. For instance, one of his more recent endeavours was the founding the China Exchange as a stimulus to revitalization of London’s Chinatown district, but also to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas and creativity with respect to China’s impact on the world. Sir David hosted the Exchange’s distinguished speakers’ series with characteristic verve.

All of us at The Glenn Gould Foundation join in extending condolences to Lady Lucy Tang and expressing our sorrow at the passing of Sir David, whose joie de vivre and infectious enthusiasm for beauty, elegance, big ideas, and music will be keenly missed.