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John Taverner


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John Taverner (c. 1490–1545) is regarded as the most important English composer of his day. He was also an organist.

Taverner was the first Organist and Master of the Choristers at Christ Church, Oxford, appointed by Thomas Cardinal Wolsey in 1526. The college had been founded in 1525 by Wolsey, and was then known as Cardinal College. Immediately before this, Taverner had been a clerk fellow at the Collegiate Church of Tattershall, Lincolnshire. In 1528 he was reprimanded for his (probably minor) involvement with Lutherans, but escaped punishment for being “but a musician”.

Wolsey fell from favour in 1529, and in 1530 Taverner left the college. So far as we can tell, he had no further musical appointments, nor can any of his known works be dated to after that time, so he may have ceased composition.

It is often said that after leaving Oxford Taverner worked as an agent of Thomas Cromwell assisting in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, although the veracity of this is now thought to be highly questionable. He is known to have settled eventually in Boston, Lincolnshire where he was a small landowner and reasonably well-off. He was appointed an alderman of Boston in 1545, shortly before his death on 18th October 1545. He is buried under the belltower at Boston Parish Church.

Most of Taverner’s music is vocal, and includes masses, Magnificats and motets. The bulk of his output is thought to date from the 1520s. His best-known motet is Dum transisset sabbatum.


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  • Daxxe

    this equals 36 in g-force power

    19 Jun 12:22am Reply
  • Eyoki

    On tour! After all these centuries!

    14 Apr 2014 Reply
  • Echoes917

    What about the Whale?!

    2 Aug 2009 Reply
  • doceasubio


    28 Dec 2008 Reply
  • demaupin

    the photo is of the composer john tavener, who is a direct descendent of john taverner - i'm sure the similar names caused the confusion. anyway, i've flagged it so hopefully it will be removed.

    22 Apr 2008 Reply
  • arcorelli

    Someone that didn't read the description of the composer anyway. After all, people in the 1500's didn't had photographic pictures.

    7 Nov 2006 Reply

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