John Kenneth Tavener, the renowned British composer whose spiritual, religious-inspired music drew a diverse fan base that included the Beatles and
Tavener died Tuesday at his home in Dorset, England, said his publisher, Chester Music.
No cause of death was given, but Tavener had been living with Marfan syndrome, a
Tavener's ambitious pieces featured orchestral and choir compositions that were both haunting and emotional in nature. He took inspiration from medieval religious music but his pieces were unmistakably contemporary in style.
"The Whale," his 1968 work that was his first to achieve widespread recognition, is a cantata inspired by the Old Testament story of Jonah and the whale. The Beatles were such fans of the piece that they released it on their Apple Records label in 1970.
His best-known works include "The Protecting Veil" (1988), a string composition that takes the Virgin Mary as its creative motif, and "The Veil of the Temple" (2003), a large-scale, pan-religious choral work that takes seven hours to perform.
Tavener took an interest in world religions and converted to the Greek Orthodox church after being brought up as a Protestant.
Prince Charles counted himself a fan of Tavener's music and was reportedly a close friend. Tavener's "Song for Athene," a vocal work, was performed at the 1997 funeral of
Tavener also found fans in the film business. His music is prominently featured on the soundtracks for Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" and Alfonso Cuarón's "Children of Men."
The composer was knighted by