John Tavener, RIP

November 12, 2013

Sir John Tavener died today in Dorset. For some decades he has been counted among England’s leading composers, usually lumped with the “holy minimalists” by those with a liking for such labels. He did write a great deal of sacred music, little of it for liturgical purposes and much of it quite beautiful, though sometimes sullied by what was, to my mind, an overzealous religious syncretism.

His best known compositions are probably his marvellous setting of Blake’s “The Lamb”, and his “Song for Athene”, which was sung at Princess Diana’s funeral. I am fond of his cello concerto in honour of Our Lady, The Protecting Veil, which is, however, too long to post here. Instead, here is his Hymn to the Mother of God, in whose tender keeping I hope he now finds himself.

Requiescat in pace.

Oh, why not? Here is a lovely section of The Protecting Veil, with Yo-Yo Ma at the cello.

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