Thu 2nd July
Fri 3rd July
Sat 4th July
Sun 5th July
Mon 6th July
Tue 7th July
Wed 8th July
Thu 9th July
Fri 10th July
Sat 11th July
Sun 12th July
Mon 13th July
Tue 14th July
Wed 15th July
Thu 16th July
Fri 17th July
Sat 18th July
Sun 19th July
Thu 2st July
Fri 3st July
Sat 4st July
Sun 5st July
Mon 6st July
Tue 7st July
Wed 8st July
Thu 9st July
Fri 10st July
Sat 11st July
Sun 12st July
Mon 13st July
Tue 14st July
Wed 15st July
Thu 16st July
Fri 17st July
Sat 18st July
Sun 19st July

Sir John Tavener

John Tavener's music was performed as part of MIF13. For more information, please visit the event page by following the link in the left hand panel.

John Tavener was born in 1944. His musical education took place in the midst of Modernist fervour, a movement of which he felt an instinctive and increasing mistrust. The first work that brought him to widespread attention, The Whale (1966), was premiered in 1968 by the London Sinfonietta at their inaugural concert and released on the Beatles’ Apple label.

Although many of his early works were inspired by the mystical aspects of Roman Catholicism, Tavener’s interest in tradition had led him to believe that the Western Christian Church was a corrupted and corrupting force. Following his conversion to Orthodox Christianity in 1977, Tavener produced a slew of works heavily influenced by Orthodox liturgical texts, Russian and Greek writers and themes, and the Orthodox tone systems. During this period, Tavener largely cut himself off from the contemporary music scene, withdrawing into himself and his faith in the hope of achieving a clarity worthy of his preferred subjects.

Throughout his life, Tavener has suffered periodically from extreme ill health; one serious instance occurred in the 1970s, another in the
early 1990s and another in the mid-2000s. In between, he continued to write pieces strongly influenced by Orthodoxy and by literature. Though he remains an Orthodox Christian, the Universalist belief that all organised religions are simply different interpretations of the same underlying forces has informed most of Tavener’s work of this period and beyond. Emergency heart surgery in Switzerland, followed by many months in intensive care after the completion of Towards Silence in 2007, halted his progress for a time, while also causing him to withdraw somewhat from spiritual themes. Recently, he has returned to his love of Tolstoy and Mozart, and he continues to be deeply influenced by Hindu metaphysical thought. Some of the works that have resulted of late are Three Shakespeare Sonnets (2010), La Noche Oscura (2012), Three Hymns of George Herbert (2012), The Death of Ivan Ilyich (2012) and Krishnalila (The Play of Krishna).

Post MIF, Tavener was preparing Flood of Beauty, a setting of the Soundarya Lahari, a Sanskrit poem on Tavener’s perennial theme of the Eternal Feminine; and Requiem Fragments, concerning another: suffering and existence. He was also developing music based on Scottish folk songs. Sir John Tavener passed away on 12 November 2013.

The music of John Tavener is published by Chester Music Limited.


Festival Square

What's On

Your Journey

Visitor Information

Box Office

0844 871 7654
Opening Hours


Support MIF


Manchester International Festival is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and takes place biennially, in Manchester, UK. The Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led, commissioning Festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture.

Manchester International Festival, Blackfriars House, Parsonage, Manchester M3 2JA
t +44 (0)161 817 4500 f +44 (0)161 839 2662 email

© Manchester International Festival All Rights Site Map Privacy Terms & Conditions WEB