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John Tavener - Biography

Born in London on 28 January 1944, John Tavener showed his musical talents at an early age and by the time he entered Highgate School he was already a proficient pianist and organist. He proceeded to the Royal Academy of Music where he won several prizes for composition. Among his teachers were Sir Lennox Berkeley and the Australian composer David Lumsdaine. In 1965 his dramatic cantata The Whale, given in the debut concert of the London Sinfonietta, brought him to the attention of the London musical public.

The first recordings of his work were issued by Apple, the label made famous by the Beatles. Over the years, the contemplative side of John Tavener's nature has led him in more spiritual directions and his commitment to the Russian Orthodox Church, which he joined in 1977, is now evident in all his work. Recent major works include The Akathist of Thanksgiving (1988), The Protecting Veil (1989) for solo cello and strings, a large-scale choral and orchestral work, Resurrection (1990) and an opera, Mary of Egypt, written for the 1992 Aldeburgh Festival. Tavener's 50th birthday year in 1994 was marked by commissions for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's centenary celebrations (Theophany), the 1994 Proms (The Apocalypse), the Monteverdi Choir's 30th anniversary (The World is Burning), and a work for violist Yuri Bashmet and the London Symphony Chorus (The Myrrh-Bearer).

In 1995, new works have included Let's Begin Again (1994), jointly commisioned by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Festival d'Art Sacré, Paris, Greenwich Festival, London and Perth Festival, Australia; Svyatuiee (1995) for Steven Isserlis and the Kiev Chamber Choir at the Cricklade Festival; Innocence (1994), written to commemorate the victims of World War II, and premiered in October by the Westminster Abbey Choir. Arc of Light and Agraphon (1994) for soprano Patricia Rozario and string orchestra were commissioned to form the centrepiece of a Tavener Festival in Athens, November 1995. Tavener was the subject of a 1992 BBC documentary entitled "Glimpses of Paradise" which was also screened at the BBC's Tavener Festival in January 1994. Geoffrey Haydon's book 'Glimpses of Paradise' was published by Gollancz in the autumn 1995.

John Tavener is married to Maryanna Schaefer, by whom he has two children.

Funeral Music of Diana, Princess of Wales

Song for Athene
Westminster Abbey Choir
Martin Neary, conductor
Sony Classical SK 66613

For Funeral Music of Diana, Princess of Wales
and the rest of John Tavener's discography,
visit CDNOW.

 

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