Tavener, John Kenneth (1944–2013) By Moody, Ivan
John Tavener was an English composer. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where his composition teachers were Lennox Berkeley and David Lumsdaine. His earliest success was with the cantata The Whale, first performed at the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta in 1968. This was followed by Celtic Requiem in 1969. Both works were recorded on the Beatles’ Apple label. Tavener began teaching at Trinity College in 1969.
Tavener was extremely prolific. Among his most significant compositions of the following decades are Últimos Ritos (1972), the opera Thérèse (1973–76), Akhmatova: Requiem (1979–80), Ikon of Light (1984), Orthodox Vigil Service (1984), and Akathist of Thanksgiving (1986–87). The huge unexpected success of The Protecting Veil for solo cello and orchestra (1987) brought his music to the attention of a wider audience than ever before. Subsequent large-scale works of significance are Resurrection (1989), Apocalypse (1993), Fall and Resurrection (1997), Total Eclipse (1999), The Veil of the Temple (2001), Laila (2004), Sollemnitas in Conceptione Immaculata Beatae Mariae Virginis (2006) and Requiem (2007). Tavener was knighted in the 2000 honours list.