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Orlando Gibbons Edit Profile

composer , organist , virginalist

Orlando Gibbons was an English composer, virginalist and organist of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods.


Gibbons was born in 1583 (most likely in December) at Oxford, where his father William Gibbons was working as a wait.


A chorister at King's College, Cambridge, in 1596. Orlando entered the university as a sizar in 1598 and achieved the degree of Bachelor of Music in 1606.


King James I appointed him a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he served as an organist from at least 1615 until his death. He was also organist at Westminster abbey from 1623.

Gibbons's madrigals favoured the serious approach of the moralistic ‘Silver Swan’: ‘More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise. ’ 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.

Gibbons's instrumental fantasias display the same skilful counterpoint, and in his day he was chiefly famous as an organist and virginalist, being described by one listener as ‘the best finger of that age’.

Eric Cross


  • One of the most versatile English composers of his time, Gibbons wrote a large number of keyboard works, around thirty fantasias for viols, a number of madrigals (the best-known being "The Silver Swan"), and many popular verse anthems, all to English texts. Perhaps his most well-known verse anthem is This Is the Record of John, which sets an Advent text for solo countertenor or tenor, alternating with full chorus.


He wrote music for the Anglican Service, one book of madrigals (1612), some fifty brilliant keyboard pieces, six of which were printed in the famous Parthenia (1611), and many works for string ensembles.


In 1606 he married Elizabeth Patten, daughter of a Yeoman of the Vestry. He had seven children.

William Gibbons

Elizabeth Patten

daughter of a Yeoman of the Vestry

Christopher Gibbons


Ellis Gibbons