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John Taverner
 
 

John Taverner, (born c. 1490, South Lincolnshire, England—died October 15, 1545, Boston, Lincolnshire), English composer known primarily for his sacred works. His music represents the culmination of early 16th-century English polyphony.

 
In 1526 Taverner went to the University of Oxford to become master of the choir in the chapel of Cardinal College (later Christ Church). He left Oxford in 1530 to serve as a lay clerk in St. Boltoph choir in Boston, England, where he may have taken up the position of chorister instructor. However, by 1537 he had ended his association with the choir, at which time he may have retired from employment in church music altogether. The allegation that he served as a paid agent of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s suppression of English monasteries cannot be verified.

Taverner’s church music, which is printed in Tudor Church Music, volumes 1 and 3 (1923–24), shows a variety, skill, range, and power that represent the climax of pre-Reformation English music. It includes 8 masses (e.g., The Western Wind), a few mass movements, 3 Magnificats, a Te Deum, and 28 motets. Taverner’s adaptation of the musical setting of the words In nomine Domini from the Benedictus of his mass Gloria tibi Trinitas became the prototype for a large number of instrumental compositions known as In nomines, or Gloria tibi Trinitas.

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Works
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".

His best known mass is based on a popular song, "The Western Wynde" (John Sheppard and Christopher Tye later also wrote masses based on this same song). Taverner's Western Wynde mass is unusual for the period because the theme tune appears in each of the four parts, excepting the alto, at different times. Commonly his masses are designed so that each of the four sections (Gloria, Credo, Sanctus-Benedictus and Agnus) are about the same length, often achieved by putting the same number of repetitions of the thematic material in each. For example in the Western Wynde mass, the theme is repeated nine times in each section. As the sections have texts of very different lengths, he uses extended melismata in the movements with fewer words.

Several of his other masses use the widespread cantus firmus technique, where a plainchant melody with long note values is placed in an interior part, often the tenor. Examples of cantus firmus masses include Corona Spinea and Gloria Tibi Trinitas. Another technique of composition is seen in his mass Mater Christi, which is based upon material taken from his motet of that name, and hence known as a "derived" or "parody" mass.

The mass Gloria Tibi Trinitas gave origin to the style of instrumental work known as an In nomine. Although the mass is in six parts, some more virtuosic sections are in reduced numbers of parts, presumably intended for soloists, a compositional technique used in several of his masses. The section at the words "in nomine..." in the Benedictus is in four parts, with the plainchant in the alto. This section of the mass became popular as an instrumental work for viol consort. Other composers came to write instrumental works modelled on this, and the name In nomine was given to works of this type.

The life of Taverner was the subject of Taverner, an opera by Peter Maxwell Davies.

 
 
 
 
 
 
John Taverner - Missa Mater Christi sanctissima
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Taverner "Westron wind"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Taverner -  Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas
 
Taverner's festal Mass "Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas" is some of his most elaborate and beautiful music. It was hugely influential both on his contemporaries and successors. In fact it gave rise to an entire new genre of music the "In Nomine" every English composer upto and including Purcell himself, tested their mastery of contrapuntal techniques by basing music on the 'In nomine' section of the Benedictus of this Mass - Taverner's "Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas". That is a unique achievement in the history of English music.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Taverner - Missa O Michael
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Taverner - Missa Sancti Wilhelmi
 
 
Taverner's composition of this Mass in honour of St. William of York is scored for 5 parts. It's marked by contrasts between high and low groups, very simple clear musical textures and heavy use of imitation. (Imitiation is where a second voice or part re-presents musical material already sung by a first voice or part). Compared to his six-part Masses this is a very forward-looking piece that was very much in the vanguard of what his contemporaries would have considered to be 'modern' musical technique. The four sections are more or less balanced with a marvellous climax in the Hosannah in the Sanctus.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Taverner - "Sanctus"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
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