John Tavener dies aged 69

The British Composer Sir John Tavener has died aged 69.

John Tavener

Tavener was best known for his works The Whale, premiered in 1968 and released on the Beatles' Apple label, and The Protecting Veil, which was written after a suggestion from the cellist Stephen Isserlis. 

He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and converted to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977, something which became a strong influence on his music. The Lamb , a choral setting of the William Blake work of the same name written in 1982, continues to be a popular and regularly performed piece.

His 'Song For Athene' was played at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, bringing his music to a worldwide audience. He received a knighthood in the Queen's Millennium Honours List in 2000.

His last notable composition, Love Duet form the Play Of Krishna , was completed in 2013 and performed as part of this year's Manchester International Festival. Tavener suffered from ill health throughout his life. He had a stroke in his thirties, and had Marfan Syndrome.

James Rushton, managing director of Chester Music, commented: "John Tavener was one of the unique and most inspired voices in music of the last fifty years. His large body of work – dramatic, immediate, haunting, remaining long in the memory of all who have heard it, and always identifiably his – is one of the most significant contributions to classical music in our times.  For all of those fortunate enough to have known him, John was a man of strong beliefs, huge personal warmth, loyalty and humour.  He will be much missed."

He is survived by his wife Maryanna and three children.


John Tavener Composer John Tavener

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The Veil of the Temple Tavener Tavener's veiled beauty

Stephen Layton’s inspired conducting leds a beautiful performance of John Tavener's hymn to universal spiritual, The Veil of the Temple