Gibbons, Orlando

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Gibbons, Orlando

Gibbons, Orlando, celebrated English composer and organist, father of Christopher and brother of Edward and Ellis Gibbons; b. Oxford (baptized), Dec. 25, 1583; d. Canterbury, June 5, 1625. He was taken to Cambridge as a small child. In 1596 he became chorister at King’s Coll. there, matriculating in 1598. He com-posed music for various occasions for King’s Coll. (1602-03). In 1605 he was appointed organist of the Chapel Royal, retaining this position until his death. He received the degree of B.Mus. from Cambridge Univ. in 1606, and that of D.Mus. from Oxford in 1622. In 1619 he became chamber musician to the King and, in 1623, organist at Westminster Abbey. He conducted the music for the funeral of James I (1625), and died of apoplexy 2 months later. Gibbons’s fame as a composer rests chiefly on his church music. He employed the novel technique of the “verse anthem” (a work for chorus and solo voices, the solo passages having independent instrumental accompaniment, for either organ or strings). Other works followed the traditional polyphonic style, of which he became a master. He was also one of the greatest English organists of the time. His madrigals and motets were ed. by E.H. Fellowes in The English Madrigal School, V (1921; 2nd ed., rev., 1964 by T. Dart), his services and anthems by P. Buck and others in Tudor Church Music, IV (1925), his keyboard music by G. Hendrie in Musica Britannica, XX (1962), and his verse anthems by D. Wulstan in Early English Church Music, III (1964).

Works

Fantasies of 3 Parts…composed for viols (1610); pieces for the virginal, in Parthenia (1611); The First Set of Madrigals and Mottets of 5 Parts (1612); 9 Fancies, appended to 20 konincklijche Fantasien op 3 Fiolen by T. Lupo, Coperario, and W. Daman (Amsterdam, 1648).

Bibliography

E.H. Fellowes, O. G., A Short Account of His Life and Work (1925; 2nd ed., 1951, as O. G. and His Family); J. Harley, O.G. and the Gibbons Family of Musicians (Brookfield, Vt., 1999).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Gibbons, Orlando

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Gibbons, Orlando (b Oxford, 1583; d Canterbury, 1625). Eng. composer, organist, and virginalist. Entered choir of King's Coll., Cambridge, 1596. Org., Chapel Royal from 1604. MusB Cambridge Univ. 1606, DMus Oxford 1622. Chamber musician to King, 1619, org. Westminster Abbey from 1623. Composer of noble church mus., incl. many anthems (e.g. This is the Record of John), motets and madrigals (e.g. The Silver Swan), 40 kbd. pieces, incl. contribution to Parthenia, 30 fantasies for viols, several pavans and galliards, and 3 In nomines. One of the greatest of the early Eng. composers. His father, William, brothers Edward, Ellis, and Ferdinando, and son Christopher Gibbons were musicians.

Gibbons, Orlando

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Gibbons, Orlando (1583–1625). Jacobean composer and keyboard player who contributed to most musical genres of the time. A chorister at King's College, Cambridge, in 1596, by 1605 Gibbons was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, later serving as joint organist. He was also organist at Westminster abbey from 1623. Gibbons's madrigals favoured the serious approach of the moralistic ‘Silver Swan’: ‘More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.’ His Anglican church music includes full anthems such as the exuberant ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, but his most significant contribution was to the verse anthem. These works, including the popular ‘This is the Record of John’, alternate sections for soloist/s and organ or instrumental consort with choral passages. Gibbons's instrumental fantasias display the same skilful counterpoint, and in his day he was chiefly famous as an organist and virginalist, being described by one listener as ‘the best finger of that age’.

Eric Cross

Gibbons, Orlando

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Gibbons, Orlando (1583–1625) English composer. He wrote viol fantasies and madrigals, such as The Silver Swanne. A master of polyphony, he composed mostly church music.

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