Composer and Beatles associate Sir John Tavener dies, aged 69

Leading British composer died at his home in Dorset

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Sir John Tavener, a leading British composer who was signed to The Beatles' Apple label, has died at the age of 69.

Although operating in the world of classical music, Tavener's compositions were acknowledged widely and he was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1992 and again in 1997. He was knighted in 2000, won a Grammy in 2002 and counted Prince Charles among his biggest fans. In 1997 his 'Song For Athene' was played during Princess Diana's funeral.

BBC News quotes a Clarence House spokesman as saying: "The Prince of Wales was saddened to hear of the death of John Tavener."

In 1968, Tavener composed the oratorio 'The Whale' and released it through Apple. At the turn of the century Tavener's setting of William Blake's poem The Lamb And A New Beginning was played in the Millennium Dome on New Year's Eve 1999.

Tavener suffered ill health since the 1970s and died at his home in Dorset. He suffered a stroke in 1979 and in 1999 was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a hereditary condition that can cause heart defects. A heart attack in 2007 left him in intensive care for six months and doctors did not expect him to be able to return to making music.

However, three new works of Tavener's were premiered at the Manchester International Festival this summer. Another of his projects, 'Three Shakespeare Sonnets', is due to be premiered at Southwark Cathedral on Friday (November 15).

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