Hyperion Records

John Taverner

born: c1490
died: 18 October 1545
country: United Kingdom

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Not a great deal is known about the life of John Taverner. He is thought to have been born around 1490 in Lincolnshire, and is first documented in 1525 as a lay clerk at the collegiate church of Tattershall, a musical establishment of some importance. Later that year he was recommended by Bishop Longland of Lincoln for the new post of Informator (choirmaster) at Cardinal College (now Christ Church), Oxford, founded by Cardinal Wolsey and lavishly endowed with a choir of sixteen choristers and twelve ‘clerkes skilled in polyphony’. After overcoming an initial reluctance to leave the security of Tattershall, he accepted this prestigious invitation in time for the formal opening of the College in October 1526. Its glory proved to be short-lived, however, and after Wolsey’s fall from power in 1529 its fortunes and finances soon began to decline. Taverner resigned the post in 1530. For the next seven years his whereabouts are unknown. Possibly he worked as a freelance musician in London, or perhaps he returned directly to Lincolnshire. From 1537 Taverner was in Boston, maybe employed as an agent for Thomas Cromwell, who had been commissioned by Henry VIII to carry out a survey and valuation of the lesser monasteries and friaries prior to their dissolution. There is no truth in the persistent claim that Taverner was a fanatical persecutor in carrying out these duties. The significance of the often-quoted note in the 1583 edition of Foxe’s Acts and Monuments that Taverner came ‘to repent him very much that he had made songs to popish ditties in the time of his blindness’ may well have been exaggerated; Foxe, an ardent Protestant, was writing some forty years after the composer’s death, and the term ‘popish ditties’ remains open to interpretation. On the contrary, there is documentary evidence that Taverner had genuine concern for the welfare of the monks and friars. The assumption that he ceased to compose after leaving Oxford is based on speculation, since a proportion of his output has probably been lost and what has survived is not always easy to date.

Taverner died in 1545 and was buried beneath the famous ‘stump’ of Boston church.

As the undisputed master of his generation, Taverner witnessed and greatly contributed to the final phase in the development of the florid style that had dominated English sacred music since the death of John Dunstable in 1453. If the works of Taverner’s immediate precursor, William Cornysh (died 1523), represent the peak of sheer virtuosity, those of Taverner himself seem to proceed along a rather more serene path regulated as much by harmonic considerations as purely melodic ones.

The music of the generation before Taverner—for instance the unequivocally medieval florid writing of the Eton Choirbook—is the glorious culmination of a predominantly insular culture, developed and sustained in those great choral institutions which had been founded or substantially expanded in the fifteenth century. Some of Taverner’s music remains firmly in this late-medieval tradition as regards form and aesthetic, even if the style is stripped of some of its florid detail. But in other works (presumably the later ones) there is evidence of a growing awareness of contemporary continental features, particularly in the systematic use of imitation, and a tendency towards clarity of texture and simplification of rhythm and line.

The music of Taverner, taken as a whole, represents the final development of the florid late-medieval English style, coupled with the assimilation of new aesthetic and technical features which indicate the growing influence of continental thought and practice. Individual works embody these two facets of Taverner’s music in varying degrees, depending mainly on liturgical form and function, but also, to a certain extent, on their chronological position within the composer’s output.

from notes by Sally Dunkley © 2000

Albums
'Taverner: Missa Corona spinea & other sacred music' (CDH55051)
Taverner: Missa Corona spinea & other sacred music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55051  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas & other sacred music' (CDH55052)
Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas & other sacred music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55052  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Taverner: Missa Mater Christi sanctissima & other sacred music' (CDH55053)
Taverner: Missa Mater Christi sanctissima & other sacred music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55053  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Taverner: Missa O Michael & other sacred music' (CDH55054)
Taverner: Missa O Michael & other sacred music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55054  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Taverner: Missa Sancti Wilhelmi & other sacred music' (CDH55055)
Taverner: Missa Sancti Wilhelmi & other sacred music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55055  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Taverner: Western Wynde Mass & other sacred music' (CDH55056)
Taverner: Western Wynde Mass & other sacred music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55056  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony' (CDS44401/10)
The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £38.50 CDS44401/10  10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Hyperion monthly sampler – November 2013' (HYP201311)
Hyperion monthly sampler – November 2013
MP3 £0.00FLAC £0.00ALAC £0.00 FREE DOWNLOAD HYP201311  Download-only monthly sampler  
On other labels
'Taverner, Tye & Sheppard: Western Wynde Mass' (CDGIM027)
Taverner, Tye & Sheppard: Western Wynde Mass
'Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas' (CDGIM004)
Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas
'Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas' (CDGIM045)
Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas
'The Tudors at Prayer' (CKD447)
The Tudors at Prayer
CKD447  Download only June 2014 Release  
'Renaissance Giants' (CDGIM207)
Renaissance Giants
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM207  2CDs for the price of 1  
'Renaissance Radio' (CDGIM212)
Renaissance Radio
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM212  2CDs for the price of 1  
'Sheppard, Taverner & Tye: Western Wynde Mass' (CDGIM027)
Sheppard, Taverner & Tye: Western Wynde Mass
'The Tallis Scholars Live in Oxford' (CDGIM998)
The Tallis Scholars Live in Oxford
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £12.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £12.00 CDGIM998  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'The Tallis Scholars sing Tudor Church Music, Vol. 1' (CDGIM209)
The Tallis Scholars sing Tudor Church Music, Vol. 1
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM209  2CDs for the price of 1  
'Tye, Sheppard & Taverner: Western Wynde Mass' (CDGIM027)
Tye, Sheppard & Taverner: Western Wynde Mass
Complete works available for download
Alleluia. Veni, electa mea The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Audivi vocem de caelo The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Dum transisset Sabbatum I The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Dum transisset Sabbatum I The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Dum transisset Sabbatum II The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Ex eius tumba The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Gaude plurimum The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Gaude plurimum The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Hodie nobis caelorum rex The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
In nomine a 4 Fretwork
In pace, in idipsum The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Leroy Kyrie The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Leroy Kyrie The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Leroy Kyrie The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Magnificat a 4 The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Magnificat a 4 – Nesciens mater The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Magnificat a 5 The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Magnificat a 6 The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Mater Christi sanctissima The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Missa Corona spinea The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Missa Mater Christi sanctissima The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Missa O Michael The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Missa Sancti Wilhelmi devotio 'Small Devotion' The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
O splendor gloriae The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
O Wilhelme, pastor bone The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Quemadmodum a 6 Fretwork
Quemadmodum a 6 Magnificat, Philip Cave (conductor)   June 2014 Release
Te Deum The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Western Wynde Mass The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Western Wynde Mass The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Western Wynde Mass The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Western Wynde Mass The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Western Wynde Mass The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
Alleluia. Veni, electa mea (Taverner)
Audivi vocem de caelo (Taverner)
Dum transisset Sabbatum I (Taverner)
Dum transisset Sabbatum II (Taverner)
Ex eius tumba (Taverner)
Gaude plurimum (Taverner)
Hodie nobis caelorum rex (Taverner)
In nomine a 4 (Taverner)
In pace, in idipsum (Taverner)
Leroy Kyrie (Taverner)
Magnificat a 4 – Nesciens mater (Taverner)
Magnificat a 4 (Taverner)
Magnificat a 5 (Taverner)
Magnificat a 6 (Taverner)
Mater Christi sanctissima (Taverner)
Missa Corona spinea (Taverner)
Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas (Taverner)
Missa Mater Christi sanctissima (Taverner)
Missa O Michael (Taverner)
Missa Sancti Wilhelmi devotio 'Small Devotion' (Taverner)
Nesciens mater virgo virum  First line to Magnificat a 4 – Nesciens mater (Taverner)
O splendor gloriae (Taverner)
O Wilhelme, pastor bone (Taverner)
Quemadmodum a 6 (Taverner)
Te Deum (Taverner)
Western Wynde Mass (Taverner)
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