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John Taverner

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John Taverner


(b. South Lincs., c.1490; d. Boston, 18 Oct 1545).
English composer. The earliest unequivocal references to him occur in 1524-5, when he was a lay clerk at the collegiate church of Tatershall. In 1526 he accepted the post of instructor of the choristers at Cardinal College (now Christ Church), Oxford, and c.1530 became a lay clerk (and probably instructor of the choristers) at the parish church of St Botolph, Boston. By 1537 he had retired from full-time employment as a church musician.
Although he was embroiled in an outbreak of Lutheran heresy at Cardinal College (in 1528) there is no evidence, contrary to popular opinion, that his views were seriously in conflict with Catholicism or that he ceased composing on leaving Oxford.
Most of his extant works, which include eight masses, three Magnificats, numerous motets and votive antiphons and a few consort pieces and fragmentary secular partsongs, probably date from the 1520s. The three six-voice masses use cantus firmi, sectional structure, huge spans of melisma and skilful counterpoint; of the smaller-scale masses " Western Wynde " is based on a secular tune and in a less expansive, more Lutheran style. Characteristic of his writing is the development of a melodic or rhythmic fragment in imitation or canon or as an ostinato figure. The Magnificats are large-scale, florid works in the English tradition, also using cantus firmi. Two of his antiphons, however, Mater Christi sanctissima and Christe Jesu, pastor bone, clearly show Josquin's influence. His four-voice In Nomine, the prototype of this English genre, is simply a transcription of the "In nomine Domine" section of his Missa "Gloria tibi Trinitas".
Taverner was pre-eminent among English musicians of his day: he enriched and transformed the English florid style by drawing on its best qualities, as well as on some continental techniques, and produced simpler works of great poise and refinement. Sacred music8 masses, incl. Missa "Gloria tibi Trinitas", 6vv, "Western Wynde", 4vv; 3 Magnificats; over 20 motets; works adapted to English translationsSecular musicpartsongs; instrumental pieces
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