Gibbons, Orlando

Orlando GibbonsOrlando Gibbons (baptised 25 December 1583 – 5 June 1625) was an English composer, virginalist and organist of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods. He was a leading composer in the England of his day.

One of the most versatile English composers of his time, Gibbons wrote a quantity of keyboard works, around thirty fantasias for viols, a number of madrigals (the best-known being “The Silver Swan”), and many popular verse anthems. His choral music is distinguished by his complete mastery of counterpoint, combined with his wonderful gift for melody. Perhaps his most well known verse anthem is This is the record of John, which sets an Advent text for solo countertenor or tenor, alternating with full chorus. The soloist is required to demonstrate considerable technical facility at points, and the work at once expresses the rhetorical force of the text, whilst never being demonstrative or bombastic. He also produced two major settings of Evensong, the Short Service and the Second Service. The former includes a beautifully expressive Nunc dimittis, while the latter is an extended composition, combining verse and full sections. Gibbons’s full anthems include the expressive O Lord, in thy wrath, and the Ascension Day anthem O clap your hands together for eight voices.

He contributed six pieces to the first printed collection of keyboard music in England, Parthenia (to which he was by far the youngest of the three contributors), published in about 1611. Gibbons’s surviving keyboard output comprises some 45 pieces. The polyphonic fantasia and dance forms are the best represented genres. Gibbons’s writing exhibits full mastery of three- and four-part counterpoint. Most of the fantasias are complex, multisectional pieces, treating multiple subjects imitatively. Gibbons’s approach to melody in both fantasias and dances features a capability for almost limitless development of simple musical ideas, on display in works such as Pavane in D minor and Lord Salisbury’s Pavan and Galliard.

 

Orlando Gibbons – Wikipedia