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Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625)

Orlando Gibbons
Orlando Gibbons was born in Oxford and baptised there on Christmas Day 1583. By 1596 he had found his way to Cambridge, where he sang in the Choir of King’s College — his brother Edward being master of the choristers.

He entered the university in 1598 and achieved the degree of Bachelor of Music in 1606. At about the same time he married and moved into the parish of St Margaret’s, Westminster, where his seven children were baptised.

By profession, Orlando was a keyboard player. James I appointed him a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he served as an organist from at least 1615. He also held positions as keyboard player in the privy chamber of the court of Prince Charles (later King Charles I), and organist at Westminster Abbey.

Between his official engagements, Gibbons composed — most notably music for Anglican services, but also vocal and keyboard works. A suite of his keyboard compositions has been arranged for Trumpet and String Orchestra by Adrian Cruft and may be hired from our library (Ref HL67). The same Suite is also available for Trumpet and Piano (Ref 2588).

At the funeral of James I in March 1625, Gibbons was the organist. Two months later, the entire Chapel Royal Gentlemen went down to Canterbury to meet Queen Henrietta Maria on her journey from Paris to London. The new King, Charles I, had married her by proxy on 11th May. It was on 5th June whilst in the city that Gibbons died of apoplexy, aged forty-one. His sudden death was a shock to his peers, and he was buried in Canterbury, where a monument to him was erected within the Cathedral.

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