John Tavener Dies; British Composer Was 69

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Sir John Tavener, one of the leading British composers of the past 50 years and a man whose music drew deeply on spirituality, has died at the age of 69.

Tavener

He died at his home in Child Okeford, Dorset, UK today, having been in poor health for much of his life, including a major heart attack in 2007.

Fellow composer John Rutter told BBC Radio 3 that his colleague was one of a kind. Sir John "was absolutely touched by genius at every point."

"He could bring an audience to a deep silence which is a very rare gift," Rutter said. "He believed that music was for everybody and was a prayer."

In 1992, The Protecting Veil topped the classical charts for several months and in 1997 his Song For Athene was played at the funeral of Princess Diana.

His setting of William Blake's The Lamb and A New Beginning was chosen to see in a new century at the end of 1999 in the Millennium Dome in London.

Sir John Tavener first made his name with the avant-garde oratorio The Whale, which was released by The Beatles on their Apple label in 1968.

He went on to become one of the few contemporary composers to find wide acclaim beyond the classical world, a feat becoming ever more rare.

For his contributions to the genre, he was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize twice - in 1992 and 1997 - and was formally knighted in 2000.

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