One of the most renowned British composers, John Tavener, has passed away. The composer, who is probably most known for his song "Song for Athene" played at Princess Diana's funeral, died "peacefully at home" in Child Okeford, southern England, on Tuesday, November 12, his publisher Chester Music said. He was 69.
"John Tavener was one of the unique and most inspired voices in music of the last 50 years," his publisher added in a statement. Calling the composer "one of the most significant contributions to classical music in our times," the publisher continued saying, "For all of those fortunate enough to have known him, John was a man of strong beliefs, huge personal warmth, loyalty and humor. He will be much missed."
John Kenneth Tavener was born on January 28, 1944, in London. Tavener started learning piano and organ when he was young. He then composed songs for a Presbyterian church where his father was an organist. Tavener studied composition at London's Royal Academy of Music.
Tavener first rose to fame after his 1968 cantata "The Whale" caught the attention of John Lennon and was released on The Beatles' Apple record label. Throughout his career, Tavener composed meditative, spiritual pieces influenced by the Eastern Orthodox form of Christianity and also other religions. In addition to 1993's "Song for Athene", some of his popular works include "The Protecting Veil", "The Lamb" and "Eternity's Sunrise". His works were also featured in Terrence Malick's 2011 "The Tree of Life" and Alfonso Cuaron's 2006 "Children of Men".
Travener, who was knighted in 2000, suffered from many health scares. He had stroke when he was 30. In addition, he was diagnosed with genetic disorder Marfan syndrome which contributed to his towering height. In 1991, he underwent a surgery to fix a leaking aortic valve.
"Suffering is a kind of ecstasy, in a way," Travener told U.K.'s The Guardian earlier this year. "Having pain all the time makes me terribly, terribly grateful for every moment I've got." He is survived by his wife and three children.