By Laura Battle
It’s an unseasonably hot spring day and John Tavener’s Dorset farmhouse is surrounded by signs of new life: flower beds are brimming with bluebells, young goats bleat from a nearby pen, chickens occupy a scruffy patch of lawn and the composer’s four-year-old son Orlando is charging from room to room with excited shrieks. So it seems strange to kick-start our conversation with a discussion of mortality but that’s where I begin. Read more
By Michael White
Writing a requiem can feel like testing fate. As Mozart worked on his, he succumbed to the terrible thought that he was writing it for himself — which, in a way, proved true. And similar feelings will have filtered through the mind of Sir John Tavener last year as his new Requiem had its premiere in Liverpool. Without him. Read More
By Charlotte Higgins
John Tavener does not fit into his surroundings. This tall, etiolated, sunbaked 63-year-old with lanky shoulder-length blond hair, dressed in white linen trousers and shirt, looks as if he would be more appropriately placed in a setting of either John Pawson-style minimalism or byzantine, gilded splendour. Not in a Dorset farmhouse with chickens in the garden, wellies on the bootstand, squashy sofas in the sitting room and a flatscreen telly. This is, after all, the composer of the night-long meditational piece The Veil of the Temple; and Song for Athene, which was performed at Diana’s funeral and confirmed him as a household name. He is the composer, in other words, of deeply spiritual, otherworldly, heartfelt, heartstopping music. Read more.
By Liz Todd
Prince Charles’s favourite British composer and close friend Sir John Tavener was last night seriously ill in hospital following a heart attack.
The 63-year-old, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, fell ill just weeks before the world premiere of his ambitious Requiem took place in Liverpool, as part of the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations.
Tavener, who survived a stroke when he was just 30, has Marfan Syndrome, an inherited condition that attacks the body’s connective tissue. Read more.
By Michael White
FOR anyone in Britain and for millions of television viewers elsewhere, a defining image of the year 1997 was the aerial view of the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, inching through the darkness of Westminster Abbey. And the defining soundtrack to that image was a stark lament sung by the abbey choir that captured the moment with heart-stopping potency. Read more.
By Jenny Gilbert
They say you shouldn’t believe everything you read, and sometimes they have a point. Arriving in a remote West Country village armed with a house name but no directions, I blithely believe I will track down John Tavener from the George Harrison-style mansion and row of Bentleys outside. The newspaper cuttings describe a millionaire who has hobnobbed with the Beatles and Prince Charles, a perma-tanned giant who collects luxury cars, dresses like a rock star, and manipulates the press, the public and the content of royal funerals on the scale of a latter-day Machiavelli. Can’t be hard to find a man like that in a tiny Dorset village. Read more.