Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Tavener, John (Kenneth) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English composer. He wrote austere, spiritual, vocal works, including the dramatic cantata The Whale (1966) and the opera Thérèse (1973). The Protecting Veil, composed in 1988 for cello and strings alone, became a best-selling classical recording. His Song for Athene was played at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Tavener was awarded a Grammy for his composition Lamentations and Praises (2000).

He was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church from 1977, and drew on Eastern European idioms and Orthodox Christian traditions; he described his chamber opera Mary of Egypt (1991) as ‘a moving icon’. Later pieces, such as The Beautiful Names (2003) and Towards Silence (2007), also explored other world religions such as Islam and Hinduism.

Tavener was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Lennox Berkeley and David Lumsdaine. He was knighted in 2000.

WorksChoral and voice with orchestra and ensemble Three Holy Sonnets of John Donne for baritone and orchestra (1962), dramatic cantata Cain and Abel (1965), cantata The Whale (1966), Introit for the Feast of St John Damascene for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1968), In Alium for soprano, orchestra, and tape (1968), Celtic Requiem (1969), Ultimos Ritos for soloists, speakers, chorus, and orchestra (1972), Ma fin est mon commencement for tenor, chorus, brass, and percussion (1972), Little Requiem for Father Malachy Lynch (1972), Requiem for Father Malachy (1973); Kyklike Kinesis for soprano, chorus, cello, and orchestra (1977), Liturgy of St John Chrysostom for unaccompanied chorus (1977), Akhmatova: Requiem (1980), Risen! for chorus, piano, organ, and orchestra (1981), Funeral Ikos for chorus (1981), Ikon of Light for chorus and string trio (1984), dramatic cantata Eis Thanaton (1986), Resurrection for soloists, actors, chorus, and orchestra (1989), We Shall See Him as He Is for soloists, chorus, and ensemble (1992), Hymns of Paradise for bass, chorus, and strings (1992), The Apocalypse for soloists, chorus, and orchestra (1993), Agraphon for soprano and string orchestra (1994); Feast of Feasts (1995), Fall and Resurrection (1997), The Beautiful Names (2003), Requiem (2007).

OperaThe Cappemakers (1964), Thérèse (1973), A Gentle Spirit (1977), Mary of Egypt (1991).

OrchestralPalintropos for piano and orchestra (1978), Theophany (1993), Mystagogia (1998), Pratirūpa for piano (2003).

ChamberGrandma's Footsteps for ensemble (1968), Sappho: Lyrical Fragments for two sopranos and strings (1981), Trisagion for brass quintet (1981); Akathist of Thanksgiving (1987), The Protecting Veil for cello and strings (1988), Ikon of St Seraphim (1988), The Repentant Thief for clarinet and ensemble (1990), Eternal Memory for cello and ensemble (1991), Vlepondas (1996), The Hidden Face (1996), Towards Silence (2007).

Piano piano concerto (1963)

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Tavener, John Kenneth
Philip's Encyclopedia

1944- English composer. He achieved early success with his biblical cantata The Whale (1966) and has continued to compose works that are...

Full text Article Tavener, Sir John (1944 - )
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

His earlier compositions include the cantata The Whale (1966) and the opera Thérèse (1979). Later works,...

Full text Article Johannessen, Hans T
Antarctica: An Encyclopedia

Skipper of the whale catcher Don Ernesto, which relieved Órcadas Station in 1925-26 and 1926-27.

See more from Credo