John Taverner

John Taverner (c. 1490–1545) was the foremost English composer of the first half of the 16th century. In 1526 he was appointed as the first informator choristarum at Cardinal Wolsey’s new foundation of Cardinal College (now Christ Church), Oxford. Taverner became involved with a Lutheran sect at the college in the late 1520s, but, as John Foxe recorded, ‘the Cardinal, for his music, excused him, saying that he was but a musician.’ Some have cited another remark by Foxe, that Taverner ‘repented him very much that he had made songs to popish ditties in the time of his blindness’, in support of the view that the composer stopped writing altogether after his brush with Lutheranism; the term ‘popish ditties’ may well, however, just refer to Marian texts such as Ave Dei patris filia.

While the three great festal Masses O Michael, Gloria tibi trinitas and Corona spinea are probably his greatest achievement, the smaller-scale pieces are no less skilfully written.

Dum transisset

£2.75
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Magnificat for six voices

£4.75
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