The Man Who Composed Princess Diana’s Musical Farewell

One of the most moving moments of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 was the performance of a strikingly simple but nonetheless haunting choral piece titled “Song for Athene” as her casket was carried out of Westminster Abbey. “Athene” was the work of British composer John Tavener, who died on Nov. 12 at age 69 in England. Tavener was a giant of modern music, and not just figuratively. At 6 feet 6 inches in height with a balding dome and stringy …