Sir John Tavener
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Radio 3 head: Tavener was a 'significant' voice

Sir John Tavener, one of the leading British composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, has died at the age of 69.

He was known for music that drew on his deep spirituality.

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.

Speaking on the Today programme, the composer Michael Berkeley noted how his father Lennox, who taught Sir John, was "struck by his extraordinary pianist abilities and the way he had extraordinary fresh compositional ideas."

Roger Wright, controller of BBC Radio 3 and director of the BBC Proms, called the composer "one of the most significant voices in British music of the last century".

He also hoped that his later modernist pieces, which touched "millions of listeners", will be remembered.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday 13 November 2013.

  • 13 Nov 2013