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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/268

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mas 1598, but, as it is not at the top, it probably refers to a younger brother. At Michaelmas 1601, 1602, and 1603 he received from the college sums varying from 2s. to 2s. 6d. for music composed ‘in festo Dominæ Reginæ,’ and at Christmas 1602 and 1603 similar payments were made to him for music for the Feast of the Purification. Although the christian name is not given, these entries in all probability refer to him. Gibbons was appointed organist of the Chapel Royal in London on 21 March 1604, in the place of Arthur Cock, deceased. In 1606 he took the degree of Mus.B. at Cambridge (Baker, Reg. Acad. Cant. quoted by Wood; Fasti, i. 406), and at that time it was stated that he had studied music for seven years. If this is to be relied upon, his attention must have been turned to composition about the time of his leaving the choir of King's. The Orlando Gibbons who was a M.A. of Cambridge, and was incorporated in the same degree at Oxford in 1607, cannot have been the composer, but may possibly have been that bearer of the name who was baptised at Oxford 25 Dec. 1583, which was, strangely enough, the year of the composer's birth. In 1611 the composer first came before the world as the associate of Byrd and Bull, in the collection of virginal pieces called ‘Parthenia.’ His pieces are placed at the end of the volume, and consist of two galliards, a fantasia of four parts, ‘The Lord of Salisbury his Pavin,’ the ‘Queen's Command,’ and a preludium. The fantasia is perhaps the most remarkable piece of instrumental music of the period; it is a sustained work in fugal form written with consummate contrapuntal skill, and developed with the hand of a master. A state paper of the same year contains Gibbons's petition to the Earl of Salisbury for a lease in reversion of forty marks per annum of duchy lands, without fine, as promised him by the queen (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. James I, vol. lxvii. No. 140). In 1612 there appeared ‘The First Set of Madrigals and Mottets of 5 Parts: apt for Viols and Voyces. Newly composed by Orlando Gibbons, Batcheler of Musicke, and Organist of his Maiesties Honourable Chappell in Ordinarie. London: Printed by Thomas Snodham, the Assigne of W. Barley, 1612.’ The dedication to Sir Christopher Hatton, knight of the Bath, implies that the composer was on terms of intimacy with his patron. ‘They were most of them composed in your owne house and doe therefore properly belong vnto you, as Lord of the Soile; the language they speak you prouided them, I onely furnished them with Tongues to vtter the same.’ From the last sentence it has been inferred that Sir Christopher wrote the words, some of which are remarkably good. There are no motets, as the title would lead us to expect, but the thirteen complete madrigals, some of which are divided into two, three, or even four sections, each as long as an ordinary madrigal, are among the masterpieces of their class. The ‘Silver Swan’ is generally considered as the most perfect work of the kind of the English school, and its wonderful conciseness, the exceeding beauty of each part, and the charm of its melodic treatment, fully explain its lasting popularity. In contrast to this, the sustained power of the set of four, beginning ‘I weigh not fortune's frown,’ is very remarkable.

The composer's connection with the family of his patron is shown in the title given to one of the twenty-seven pieces preserved in what is known as ‘Benjamin Cosyn's virginal book,’ in Buckingham Palace. The galliard on p. 170 of that volume is called in the index the ‘La. Hatten's Galliard.’ The virginal book at Cambridge known as ‘Queen Elizabeth's’ contains a pavane, and another composition in the same form is in Addit. MS. 29996; Addit. MS. 31403 contains, besides the ‘preludium’ with which ‘Parthenia’ concludes, six pieces by Gibbons, called variously ‘voluntary’ or ‘fantazie.’ The ‘Wood soe wilde’ is an air with variations.

His work for stringed instruments, though far less extensive than either his sacred or secular vocal music, is exceedingly interesting, since his compositions are among the first designed distinctively for instruments. In earlier times, and in his own set of madrigals, the viols were only permitted to take the vocal parts, and in the set of pieces for three stringed instruments in Addit. MSS. 30826–8, three of which are by Gibbons, and more particularly in his own ‘fantasies,’ the first signs of transition may be seen from the exceedingly dry ‘In nomines’ of the older generation to the chamber music of the period of the Restoration. The title presents considerable difficulties to the biographer. It runs: ‘Fantasies of Three Parts composed by Orlando Gibbons, Batchelour of Musick and Late Organist of his Majesties Chappell Royall in Ordinary. Cut in Copper, the like not heretofore extant. London: At the Bell in St. Paul's Churchyard.’ There is no date to the part-books and the word ‘Late’ is inexplicable, since there is no evidence that Gibbons gave up his post or was dismissed from it during his life. The date must have been earlier than 1622, as it is dedicated to Edward Wray, as one of the grooms of the king's bedchamber, and in that year Wray lost his place (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. James I, vol. cxxviii. No. 96).