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).
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).
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