John Tavener has been renowned for his spiritual outlook and beliefs, which held great influence over his musical compositions. With a roster of around 300 works to his name (most of which are included in the graphic above), deep-held spirituality and religious devotion are clearly-manifest themes that recur in virtually all of Tavener’s output. In the months following his death press articles celebrating and remembering this great British composer abounded and his impact upon our musical history remains considerable.
Britten Sinfonia is delighted to be part of the Barbican’s Celebrating John Tavener series this autumn where we will be performing two concerts, the first will be the premiere of Tavener’s last completed orchestral work Flood of Beauty (taking place on Sunday 28 September 2014), followed by a performance of Kaleidoscopes with soloist Nicholas Daniel (Monday 29 September – Sunday 5 October 2014, London, Cambridge and Norwich). The latter performance is a particularly special one for us as Tavener’s oboe concerto Kaleidoscopes was originally written for Britten Sinfonia and Nicholas Daniel back in 2006 and it will be an opportunity for us to remember our personal connection with this great composer. For more information about these concerts please visit our website.
We hope that our performances will express our tribute to this great composer so rather than say any more here is Tavener in his own words with a selection of our favourite quotes...
“I discovered the late quartets of Beethoven. I never liked them much before, they seemed forced. But now I could see how they arose out of the transcendence of such huge personal suffering. They’re such wonderful pieces, somehow beyond any style. They could have been written at any time.”
(Telegraph interview 2013)
"Stockhausen was a searcher after truth, too. I know there are inane things in his music, but in his later works he was really on to something.”(Telegraph Interview 2013)
"Canticum Sacrum is wonderfully archaic [...] What Stravinsky does is extraordinary. It takes you on a journey from Gregorian chant right through to the modernism of Webern – and all in 17 minutes."(The Guardian 2013)
"I had whatsername? ... Bjork. Bjork round to dinner the other night," he said, "and I want to write something for her. I don't see why not. She's far more intelligent than most classical singers."
(The Guardian 1999)
"I don't hate pop music," he says. "I liked the Beatles, but then I knew them." John Lennon was his favourite.(The Guardian 1999)
"I was recently moved to tears by the beautiful pain of Schoenberg's Second String Quartet. And I think suffering has got something to do with that. Suffering is a kind of ecstasy, in a way. Having pain all the time makes me terribly, terribly grateful for every moment I've got."(The Guardian 2013)
"I have always regarded Mozart as the most sacred and also the most inexplicable of all composers. Sacred, because more than any other composer that I know, he celebrates the act of Being; inexplicable, because the music contains a rapturous beauty and a childlike wonder that can only be compared to Hindu and Persian miniatures, or Coptic ikons."(Composer's programme notes: Kaleidoscopes)
"Little Reliquary for G. F. H. is a humble tribute to Handel based on a misremembered quote from Solomon and scored for oboe, strings and countertenor. Solomon has always been my favourite work by Handel, and the aria, which I have albeit slightly misremembered, stems from my early years when I played it repeatedly on a 78 recording of Beecham’s orchestration of the music."(Composer's programme notes: Little Reliquary for G. F. H.)