The Music Of Armstrong Gibbs


 

View the complete works of Gibbs - Compiled by Michael Pilkington


Chronological Catalogue
(Click on any of the dates to see a new window)





Catalogue Listing By Instrument

SOLO SONGS with piano accompaniment

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SOLO SONGS with piano accompaniment - ARRANGEMENTS
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SOLO SONGS with Other Accompaniments
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CHORUS and ORCHESTRA
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Church Music
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Church Music – CAROLS
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Church Music – HYMN TUNES
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Part–songs – unaccompanied
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Part–songs – unaccompanied – ARRANGEMENTS
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Part Songs –with Piano
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Part Songs – with Piano – ARRANGEMENTS
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Part Songs – OTHER ACCOMPANIMENTS
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UNISON SONGS
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STAGE And SCREEN
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Orchestral Music – Full Orchestra
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Orchestral Music – SMALL ORCHESTRA

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Orchestral Music – PIANO and STRINGS

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Orchestral Music –STRING ORCHESTRA
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CHAMBER MUSIC
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PIANO

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ORGAN

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OTHER INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC


Although he is principally remembered as a composer of solo songs, Armstrong Gibbs was a versatile musician whose output included part songs, larger choral works, chamber music and three symphonies. Much of his chamber music remains unpublished and the few recordings that are available give scant exposure to his compositions.

Some of the well-known Gibbs settings date from the early years of his career; for example Nod, Silver, Five Eyes and A Song of Shadows, all poems by Walter de la Mare with whom he had a close artistic association. Songs from the children's play Crossings, written by de la Mare, mark the beginning of his career as a composer. Solo songs from this period include The Fields are Full, The Tiger-Lily, Mistletoe, The Sleeping Beauty and By a Bier-Side. From the thirties and forties, when Gibbs was at his most prolific, stem The Ballad of Semmerwater, A Ballad Maker, Why do I love, The Witch, Before Sleeping, and Hypochondriacus. Songs dating from the last decade of Gibbs' life are; The Oxen, Three Lyrics ( by Christina Rossetti ), Lament for Robin Hood and Gipsies.Gibbs made his name by writing for the stage. After Crossings came the incidental music for a production of Webster's The White Devil, in Cambridge. This was quickly followed by the music for Maeterlinck's play The Betrothal, in 1921 and concurrently the Cambridge Greek play the Oresteia. Shortly afterwards he wrote the music for A.P, Herbert's comic opera The Blue Peter and for Clifford Bax's successful harlequinade Midsummer Madness. Gibbs always wanted to write a successful comic operetta and was bitterly disappointed, in the fifties, when the BBC rejected Mr Cornelius.Armstrong Gibbs' long association with the Festivals Movement led him to write part songs and larger choral works, many of them to commission. Among the unaccompanied part songs performed by his own choral society were; Come Sleep, Andy Battle, Keith of Ravelston, The Pleasures of Love, Before Sleeping and Five Elizabethan Lyrics. Larger accompanied choral works include La belle Dame Sans Merci and The Highwayman, for a chorus of mixed voices, and the cantatas for soli and mixed chorus, The Birth of Christ and Deborak and Barak. Collaboration on the latter with the Essex poet Mordaunt Currie may have led to the composition of Odysseus, Gibbs' choral symphony for soli, mixed chorus and orchestra.Much of Gibbs' early music was written for string quartet with piano or other instruments. Often this combination was used as an accompaniment for his songs. Gibbs' fluent writing for strings gained him the second prize in the Daily Telegraph Competition in 1934 ( String Quartet in A Major ). It also resulted in the popular Dusk - the slow waltz from his suite Fancy Dress, written for orchestra and piano. In the thirties too, he wrote Almayne, based on a 17th century air and A Spring Garland, a collection of musical pictures of flowers. A commission from the Westmoreland Orchestra, in the early fifties, produced the reflective Dale and Fell suite. On the death of Walter de la Mare in 1956 Gibbs wrote the poignant Threnody for string quartet and string orchestra. Other instrumental music included pieces for violin, cello and clarinet and an oboe concerto dedicated to Leon Goossens.Apart from the larger sacred choral works, Gibbs wrote a number of hymn tunes and carols, notably, Danbury, Lingwood, The Stable Door, Oxen Cribbed in Barn and Byre and While the Shepherds were Watching. There were also anthems and settings of canticles. His output for organ was small, but there are a number of significant piano works, for example the suite In the High Alps, dating from 1924, and the eight preludes from 1940, entitled Lakeland Pictures.

What is presumed to be Gibbs first Symphony in E - an early mention referred to it as the second - was written in 1931 / 32 and performed in October 1932, under the baton of Sir Adrian Boult. The second, the choral symphony Odysseus, thought by Gibbs to be one of his best works, had to wait until 1946 for its first performance. The third symphony, the Westmorland, was completed in 1944 (following the tragic death of his son who was killed in action in Italy), while the composer and his wife were living in the Lake District.

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