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22 August 2013

Happy birthday, Christopher Gibbons!

AAM Music Director Richard Egarr tells the story of how he came across the music of Christopher Gibbons

"It was about 15 years ago. As I was gently reading through the magnificent diary of Samuel Pepys, I noted again and again references to a great keyboard master 'Mr.Gibbons'. I was fully aware of the music sung by Orlando Gibbons, whose music I had sung and known since the age of eight as a chorister at York Minster. The Gibbons of Pepys could not be Orlando, who died decades before the diary was written. Curiousity duly peaked, I quickly discovered that this famous mid-seventeenth-century Gibbons was Christopher, Orlando's son. Why, if he was indeed so feted in Pepys' lifetime, had I not come across his music?

"During the course of the next years I began digging for information and looking for scores. To my huge surprise there was practically nothing: one dissertation from 1963 and less than a handful of Fantasias for viols. Further rummaging after receipt of the dissertation fuelled ardour and increased my amazement: there was a large repertoire of music by this composer - anthems, fantasies, fantasy-suites and keyboard music. Was this music so uninteresting that it wasn't worthy of attention? Was that the reason it lay undisturbed in Oxford and London libraries? I ordered microfilms of all the music and discovered a master-composer of great personality and genius. I first put on a concert of his music in 1999 in Amsterdam, and have been airing it ever since that time. It is extraordinary music of great emotional power, and there are real masterpieces.

"I am therefore extremely proud to present with the AAM a selection of music by this forgotten Master - music that has not been heard, except on the few occasions I have performed it over the past 13 years, for over three centuries."

AAM / Christopher Gibbons recording

 Find out more about our world-premiere recording and listen to a sample