Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Candace Bailey (NC Central University, Durham, USA)

Reworking the past: Blitheman and Gibbons in Restoration England

If we follow the path of Orlando Gibbons’s fantasias, we find that at the time of the Civil War, the sources of his music may be found predominantly in Oxford—not surprising perhaps considering that Christopher moved there during that time. What is perhaps more noteworthy is how closely the organ music of the two men—father and son—traveled together. This connection culminates in Och 1142A, a manuscript remarkable for several items, particularly the light it sheds on the use of older music by younger composers.

Och 1142A yields the opportunity to examine at least two aspects of English keyboard music of the mid-seventeenth century. One, it provides a piece of the puzzle involving the circulation of the works of Orlando Gibbons, who was probably the most influential composer of the first quarter of the century on later generations. That this path roughly followed the path of his son, Christopher, through the west and south of England is remarkable, and the role the organists of this area played in continuing the English keyboard tradition certainly warrants further research. Second, Och 1142A allows for the examination of the use of pre-existing pieces to construct new ones—of the idea of modeling new works on old ones. There are two different types of examples here. One is the use of subjects in Gibbons fantasias as the basis for new works. Two is the use of the outmoded In nomine as a compositional constraint. In the latter, we find that the harmonic system under which the cantus firmus was created can no longer serve the new ideals of the seventeenth century.

Last updated on 20 May 2004