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Music Industry Pays Tribute To Composer Sir John Tavener Following Death

The composer passed away aged 69 on Tuesday

The music industry has paid tribute to composer Sir John Tavener following his death yesterday, with many labelling his contribution to music as "immense" and recognising his "kind, strong-willed and beautiful" nature.

Sir John passed away peacefully in his Dorset home on November 12 following long-term ill health. Despite his various illnesses, the British composer continued working and his latest work, 'The Shakespeare Sonnets' is due to be premiered at Southwark Cathedral on Friday.

John Tavener passed away aged 69 on Tuesday (Official Website)

A number of John's collaborators and colleagues have paid tribute, including the editor of BBC Music Magazine Oliver Condy, who interviewed the composer for their latest issue. "He recognised he had this God-given talent for connecting with people," he told the BBC.

"His music had this timelessness that very few composers have… there's a real sense of bringing together contemporary music and spirituality that really connects at the deep roots of people's existence."

Oliver praised a number of Sir John's works, commending his understanding of audiences. "He understood what people like to hear, the kind of music that would calm and get to the core," states Oliver.

"He really could express so much in so little - the very famous Song for Athene is itself very simple, with an underlying bass note and repetitive phrases over and over again like a chant."

"John Tavener's music seemed to float and its beauty was in its very simplicity. Other composers have tried it and for some reason don't seem to have found the formula that John Tavener did," he adds.

His publisher Gill Graham has praised his personality, telling the BBC that "he was a gentle, funny, kind, strong-willed and beautiful man. I will miss him terribly" while composer and conductor Sir Peter Maxwell Davies considers his contribution to spiritual music as "immense".

After breaking through with the avant-garde 'The Whale', released by The Beatles' Apple label in 1968, Sir John went on to have decades of succes. In 1992, his piece 'The Projecting Veil' topped the classical charts for months while the 1997 composition 'Song For Athene' was played at Princess Diana's funeral.

'A New Beginning' was later chosen to be played as the new century chimed in at the Millenium Dome and Sir John was nominated for the Mercury Prize twice during the '90s before being knighted in 2000.

His accolades also include a 2002 Grammy Award and Grammy President Neil Portnow is amongst the industry bosses who have paid tribute, stating that the musician "strived to create compositions that were noble, magnificent and inspirational".

Sir John appeared on BBC4's 2011 'Sacred Music' series (YouTube/ImperiumUltimum)

Managing Director of Sir John's publisher Chester Music, James Rushton, described the composer as "one of the unique and most inspired voices in music of the last 50 years", adding that: "His large body of work... is one of the most significant contributions to classical music in our times."

"For all of those fortunate enough to have known him, John was a man of strong beliefs, huge personal warmth, loyalty and humour. He will be much missed," he concluded.

Cellist and collaborator Steven Isserlis remembers Sir John fondly, describing him as "full of humour, very funny" to Radio 3. "Classical music has fractured into all these completely different languages and voices and he had his own voice," Isserlis said. "He wasn't writing to be popular - he was writing the music he had to write."

A Clarence House spokesperson has also issued a statement, reading: "The Prince of Wales was saddened to hear of the death of John Tavener." It has often been reporoted that Sir John was Prince Charles's favourite composer.

Sir John's health issues date back to 1979, when he suffered a stroke. In 1999 he was diagnosed with the hereditary condition Marfan Syndrome, which can cause heart defects. In 2007, he spent six months in intensive care following a heart attack.

His final public interview was aired on Radio 4 on Monday, during which he talked openly about his various health issues, explaining on the 'Start The Week' show that: "It was only after being nursed by my wife back into some state of health that the music and a different kind of faith started to come back."

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