Orlando Gibbons

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About Orlando Gibbons

Orlando Gibbons was an English composer and keyboard player whose music embraced the late Renaissance and anticipated the early Baroque. He mastered all the compositional forms and styles of his time, and was widely recognised for his vocal, keyboard and ensemble music. Born in Oxford in 1583, by 1605 he had begun to work at court as an organist to the Chapel Royal, and he was appointed organist of Westminster Abbey in 1623. His 40 or so anthems, which long remained in the English cathedral repertory, range from expressive, forward-looking pieces for solo voices and instruments (This is the Record of John) to complex celebratory anthems for eight-part choir (O Clap Your Hands, 1622). Very few of his works were published in his lifetime, but most of his secular vocal music is found in the Madrigals and motets (1612), including the famous consort song “The Silver Swan”. His 45 keyboard works cover a wide range of styles, including the elegant gait of “Lord Salisbury’s Pavan and Galliard” and the complex, imitative textures of the fantasias. His amateur consort music for viols is both witty (“The Street Cries of London”) and profound (In Nomine). He died young, in 1625.

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