GRAMMY-winning classical composer John Tavener died Nov. 12 at his home in England. A cause of death was not revealed. He was 69. A native of London, Tavener was trained in piano and organ as a young adult, and subsequently studied composition at London's Royal Academy of Music. He burst onto the public scene with the help of the Beatles, who released his album The Whale via their Apple Records label in 1970. The following year Apple released Tavener's Celtic Requiem. Much of Tavener's later work was inspired by his spiritual journey, including his conversion to Orthodox Christianity and his collaboration with Mother Thekla, a Russian immigrant and nun with whom he composed "Song For Athene" in 1993, which was performed at Princess Diana's funeral in 1997. Tavener earned the lone GRAMMY of his career in 2002 for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Tavener: Lamentations And Praises, a collaboration with San Francisco-based all-male classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer. "John Tavener was a prolific and eclectic composer whose work reached beyond the bounds of classical music," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "He strived to create compositions that were noble, magnificent and inspirational."
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