John Tavener: a life in pictures
On the news of his death, we look at what made Sir John Tavener a great composer.
1. Royal Academy
As a student, Tavener studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, where he shone as a composer and wrote works for the newly formed London Sinfonietta.
2. John Tavener and Paul McCartney
Tavener's early success with The Whale was perhaps inevitable - it was released on The Beatles' Apple label. He was also a friend of John Lennon and Ringo Starr during their mid-1960s Beatles peak.
3. The Protecting Veil
He collaborated with cellist Stephen Isserlis in 1988 for the epic piece The Protecting Veil, which was premiered the year after.
4. Religious conversion
Tavener underwent a religious conversion in 1977, after exploring many different elements of world faiths. He converted to the Russian Orthodox Church, which went on to be a big influence on his music.
5. The Lamb
The Lamb, a haunting unaccompanied work for choir, is still performed regularly today. It embodies his religious influences and his musical language perhaps more clearly than any other of his works.
6. Song For Athene
Tavener will perhaps always be best known for his 'Song For Athene', which was performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. Photo: Simone Canetty-Clarke
7. A knighthood in 2000
The year 2000 saw John Tavener officially become Sir John Tavener in the Queen's Millennium Honours List.
8. Triumph at the Ivor Novello awards
In 2005, Tavener was presented with an Ivor Novello award for Classical Music, given to him by Stephen Fry.
9. "Everything else is an illusion..."
Tavener was known for his strong views on religion, which he simply and eloquently put into words on the occasion of his 60th brithday: "The one thing that exists is God: everything else is an illusion... If you love someone, you don’t really love that person, you love God. I can’t see it any other way. There’s only one being, one thing. There’s only one God and only one thing that exists, and that is God. We are God, and we have to find that in ourselves. It’s you and I, there is no other. It’s all one."