JOHN TAVENER: His final interview

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John Tavener:

Just before his death the great maverick composer John Tavener, who played at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, told Ivan Hewett how he had previously cheated death many times.

"You know, my consultant keeps telling me sudden death could come at any moment,” says John Tavener with a sudden, mischievous laugh. It’s a surprise because until that moment he’d seemed a picture of crumpled fragility, voice almost inaudible, his long mottled hands curled in his lap.

Tavener can afford to laugh, having cheated death so many times. The heart troubles that first appeared in the Seventies, when he was leaving behind his “flower-power” phase and discovering his attraction towards Orthodox Christianity, have plagued him ever since. By the time he’d became famous in the Eighties and Nineties, with his anthem The Lamb, and Song for Athene – later played at .........

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