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A Conversation with the composer/writer Richard Stoker about Cecil Armstrong Gibbs
John France

 


Cecil Armstrong Gibbs

Born: Great Baddow in Essex 10th August 1889

Died: Chelmsford 12th May 1960

 

 

 

I spoke to the composer Richard Stoker about his early meeting with Armstrong Gibbs over 50 years ago. He also gives his thoughts on Gibbs and his music, the plight of British composers in the 20th century, and some oral history on the social and musical scene in Pontefract in the late 1940s.

John France

 

Richard Stoker (right) as a school boy in Castleford

 

Richard Stoker, your first and only meeting with Cecil Armstrong Gibbs was in the West Riding market town of Pontefract. You were about 9 years old and a budding musician.

As far as I remember, and it is about 55 years ago now, Armstrong Gibbs was the Adjudicator at the Pontefract Competitive Music Festival, circa 1948, and I may also have been examined by him at an earlier or later date at Pontefract for an Associated Board grade examination. He seems to have been a familiar figure when he was visiting the North as an adjudicator, or so I was told at the time and frequently since. The adjudication took place at either the old Assembly Rooms or as part of the music festival in the ancient Town Hall. On the day of the competition I remember I was dressed in the usual shorts and pink or blue gingham shirt, and sandals.

I arrived with my father and mother at our favourite restaurant and tearooms called Wordsworths. It always smelt of Brown Windsor soup that I adored to eat and to smell. It was a couple of minutes after nine in the morning -- the church clock had just struck. We ordered coffee and biscuits from the waitress, smartly dressed with a spotless white napkin over her arm, when a distinguished older man sat down at the next table. He looked very shy but at the same time kind and extremely confident; he stooped a lot, what they then called a professorial stoop. After placing his leather briefcase at his feet he nodded to us, but said nothing. I sipped my white coffee thinking how much better it was than the wartime sweet and gravy-like 'Camp' we all drank at home in those days. Our neighbour ordered a large cooked breakfast: it looked like a mixed grill, plus toast and coffee. I think he may have started with a large half of grapefruit. When the girl returned with the piping hot meal our neighbour was already reading The Times, with adverts all over the front page. I thought he would be up for the races as he was dressed in a thick check green tweed suit, with a cream-coloured handkerchief floating out of his top pocket; both tie and hanky were pure silk, I noticed. He would take out the handkerchief and wipe his nose, then put it back. I was very nervous about the coming ordeal at the festival. I remember my father saying the usual thing that you can only do your best and he expected nothing more -- or so he said. Our neighbour lingered over his breakfast and newspaper as if on holiday and with all the time in the world. He kept leaning back in his wooden Windsor armchair to turn the huge pages of his newspaper, snorting and sniffing a bit. My father hadn't even noticed him, but like me my mother had. She asked my father who he thought the stranger might be. My father answered her: 'How should I know, someone up from the South ... London no doubt.' Next time the waitress appeared to clear our cups, saucers and plates my mother whispered to her: 'Who's that man?' nodding at the next table. 'Oh, he's the Music Festival adjudicator. He always stays here.' (There were bedrooms for hire above, which always seemed intriguing to me.) Now I felt even more nervous than before. 'He'll be adjudicating your class, Richard,' my mother said. As we left my father said he had to see his solicitor, something that he always did when in Pontefract, two miles from our home in Glasshoughton. He'd meet us for lunch again at Wordsworths, and he shouted 'Good Luck' to me. My mother took me across the road; we turned right at the ancient Butter Cross where I loved to play, and through the empty open Market Square (I think it was a Friday), and then left again towards the Town Hall. I remember her saying that he looked a nice, very friendly man and told me not to worry.

Now to most people Pontefract conjures up images of a rather famous liquorice confection. However, I have looked at the local website and see that there is quite a lot going for this town, including a rather impressive castle.

You mean Betjeman's witty 'In The Liquorice Fields at Pontefract My Love and I Did Lie'. Yes, there were liquorice sticks, liquorice All Sorts, etc. all manufactured there, I remember eating lots of it, including pieces like dark-shag pipe tobacco -- I think some old men and women smoked this variety too. I couldn't eat any of it now, perhaps one piece the size of a two pence piece for nostalgia only. There was also the local rhubarb (between Pontefract and Doncaster is the very best soil for rhubarb). Both were famous laxatives. Local people used to 'force' the rhubarb in the dark under their beds, then replanted it. Pontefract Castle, which was built in Norman times, has been a ruin since the Civil War. It remained in Tudor hands all through the Wars of the Roses, even though all the Yorkists lived around. It is built on a solid rock and until the Cromwell period was impregnable. I used to play there from the age of about two; later I discovered and played in the very damp dungeons where Richard II was murdered (starved to death or poisoned). Later I saw one or two productions of Shakespeare's Richard II on the grass tennis courts: one was given by the local King's School, another was given by a cast drawn from the Quaker school at nearby Ackworth, where the Victorian Liberal MP John Bright had studied, and for both productions the dungeons were used as the offstage area and dressing rooms. Later I played tennis on the grass tennis courts as a member of the Pontefract Tennis Club: I remember how slowly the ball moved on grass. I was named after Richard the Lionheart, but the other two Richards have always fascinated me, especially the Plantagenet period itself. The Tudors certainly valued 'their' castle. When not playing or watching the tennis I would wander off down a path where I came to two unmarked tomb-like lead coffins. I liked to jump about on them and jump off them. Later I found they contained the remains of two Plantagenets executed at the castle: Lord Grey, the uncle of the remarkable Elizabeth Wyedville (or Woodville), grandmother to King Henry VIII, and her brother Anthony, the 2nd Lord Rivers. I have since heard that Rivers was the first person to have a book printed in Britain by Caxton. (Earlier, after the battle of Wakefield, Henry VI's widowed Queen, Margaret of Anjou, ordered many Yorkist nobles to be beheaded at the castle.) At the small castle museum the curator would allow me to dress up in the very heavy armour said to have belonged to one of these men or even to Richard II. So Pontefract and the ruined Castle are both rich in history. In fact, on a visit to Hampton Court the first painting I saw was an oil on wood of Pontefract Castle, dated circa 1500. It gave me a shock to see it there, but the castle being always in Tudor hands explains the connection.

Could you give me a flavour of this town in the immediate post-war period? I think this could be of interest to record for its own sake.

Pontefract is now famous as the extremely cold place where the WAAFs were recruited, at the old barracks, where they all slept or tried to sleep, on camp beds in the drill hall. To girls from the south it seemed next to nowhere, so the early prisoners at the castle would have found it even worse. The Second World War hardly changed Pontefract: I mentioned the ancient Butter Cross on the open market square. I believe Charlotte Bronte's husband, after her death, sold some furniture from Haworth Parsonage at the open market, for we had a chair and a small footstool from there. My father and uncle were photographed in the chair around 1905 and I use the footstool to rest my feet when working on my music. Pontefract also has the distinction of being the first place where the ballot box was used for elections (in the 1870s). Ropergate is a lovely street with the better shops and a cinema called the Crescent. When I was about eleven a new, modern chapel was built, designed by a Mr Poulson who lived locally. The only drawback was that my uncle had to make do with a grand piano instead of a pipe organ, but there was a small pedal organ in the crypt where after the main service I would accompany the communion. At the Assembly Rooms there is a huge bas-relief in sculptured plaster of The Death of Nelson, based on the painting by Daniel Maclise. Some classes at the music festival were held here or at the town hall, so there was frequent movement about. A favourite place was the Valley Gardens behind the Infirmary; these gardens and the hospital were built over a recently discovered Roman historical site. The Parish Church had as organist Noel Gaye, composer of 'The Lambeth Walk' -- the concert agency is named after him. My father bought a C. Bechstein piano for me from a surgeon who worked at the Infirmary who had previously bought it from Noel Gaye. Pontefract, sheltered as it is under the great rock of the ruined castle, was such an historical haven of rest near so much industry, the close proximity of the mines was hardy noticed, nor the pipe-smoking miners themselves who seemed to avoid the town; this confused me as a boy of about 10 or so. Pontefract seemed hardly affected by the war itself, it was even quite a pleasure for me to use my ration book there, it seemed almost a cathedral town, and making ends meet had almost become a pleasure if you could spend a day in such a lovely old town as Pontefract.

I know that you were interested in cricket as well as music: did you know that Gibbs played the game until he became too infirm? He then turned to bowls.

That really does sound familiar from the distant past. He was a countryman, and cricket and bowls are both played in the heart of the country, often near a country pub. It's very believable really. Do any titles of his pieces reflect these interests? It's surprising how many 20th century composers have played squash and tennis. Squash is often popular because you can be back at your desk in under an hour and it's useful to have the shower! It is funny you mentioned cricket because I often drew cricketing symbols on my piano scores to remind me of things to do: bails, bats, balls, pads, stumps etc. Armstrong Gibbs, looking over my shoulder, asked why these were there and he must have been interested in the cricketing symbols, being a cricketer himself. At this time I became a member of various societies at Pontefract: The chess club, the tennis club -- hard courts, but as I said I preferred to play in the Castle grounds, on grass, weather permitting. I also played bowls occasionally. The Photographic Society, where the members still used old box cameras and whose average age was about sixty-five, were very snooty, resenting a young boy in their midst; they seemed to be all men too, but I persevered there for about a year. One Sunday my father announced: 'Come on, we're going out to somewhere special', and it turned out to be two rounds of golf (18 holes) at the famous Pontefract golf course near the racecourse. My father, who was a member, wore his plus-fours. But it was my membership as a Yorkshire Colt of Castleford Cricket Club that gave me the most pleasure, for one summer evening I had the good fortune to bowl against the young Brian Close, recently back from his first tour of Australia for England, during which our senior players, Yorkshire ones too, had failed to encourage Close, who was hardly out of his teens. What an experience that was for me!

As I said earlier, CAG was adjudicating a music festival - this implies that there was a vigorous local musical interest. Can you tell me something of this?

The musical interest was marginal, coming as it did from the churches and chapels, the private teachers and some schools. But the real local musical interest came from the collieries - brass bands, even bell ringing, the local Gilbert and Sullivan Society in nearby Castleford, called The Old Legioleans after the Roman name for the town. It was here that I sang bass or tenor in the chorus, and sometimes conducted the rehearsals in the local Grammar School. I remember our productions of Patience and Haddon Hall. I spent the breaks looking at Henry Moore's first carving in wood of the World War One memorial plaque on his grammar school's wall. The bridge at Castleford had been the only way across the River Aire to the North and Scotland at one time, the old Roman Road that came from Finchley Road, up Watling Street, through St Albans, Knottingley through Castleford then on up to Edinburgh. Castleford and Pontefract are exactly midway between the two great cities, London and Edinburgh. So the music scene wasn't all centred at the Town Hall and Assembly Rooms but in the parks, schools, night schools, choir stalls etc. There's even a Folk and Dance society now, with Morris dancing performed in the open air in the Castle grounds. As far as the music was concerned the standards varied greatly. But it is a fact that the Examiners were most impressed by the industrial places in Britain, the entrants worked harder and took the whole thing more seriously. Often the best results and standards come from the industrial places, there is perhaps a higher concentration on the artistic side of life as a compensatory factor to the often drab environment. So Armstrong Gibbs could enjoy both sides of his life and it was perhaps a satisfaction to him and an inspiration for his creative work.

What were you doing at the Festival? I assume that you had been entered for the piano section.

Yes, both the solo and the duet classes.

Which pieces did you play?

Mostly set pieces by Adam Carse etc, later Mozart and Beethoven were popular. I seem to remember an Armstrong Gibbs piece was set more than once, but not when he was adjudicating. I remember a Brahms Hungarian March was popular in the Duet sections, also a Liszt Hungarian Dance. I played the Minute Waltz of Chopin, getting it fast enough to just fill the minute.

Who was your teacher at that time? What works did you have to study? And how did piano study differ in the 1950s to the present day?

My father's cousin, who I always called Uncle Harry, George Henry Howdle, who had gained an LRAM from the Royal Academy and a Fellowship from the Trinity College in London. At Pontefract he was the local music teacher. He taught me the piano and general musicianship, also looking at my early efforts in composition. He couldn't see any further than Debussy, who seemed avant-garde to him. Earlier he had accompanied such singers as Elsie Suddeby, Kathleen Ferrier and Isobel Bailey. Besides the piano he taught singing, the organ and trained the Chapel choir, which I helped by conducting for him while he accompanied them on the grand piano or church organ. Harry had come across Armstrong Gibbs as examiner and adjudicator and once invited him over to the church to conduct our chapel choir in one of his own part songs. That was greatly encouraging. Also Harry had seen him often throughout the week at the Festival when he himself had been asked to accompany the singers in the vocal classes. I remember Armstrong Gibbs examining pianists and singers at my uncle's house opposite the park and having lunch with him and my aunt. When my uncle died, I was invited to take over his many pupils: they were just taking their Associated Board exams. When the Examiner came: Watson Forbes, from London's RAM, this time, he took one look at the Certificates on the music room wall. 'Oh', he said to my aunt Mary, 'This must be your late husband's Diploma', pointing to the LRAM one, then spotting the other from Trinity, he said: 'and this must be yours, my dear'. 'No,' she said, 'they're both his'. I was aged 13 at the time. When I met Watson ten years later I didn't mention it. By then I had begun teaching at the RAM in almost the same way, invited to take over from the Russian-born composer Manuel Frankel who had died suddenly: his pupils were also about to take their yearly exams. Eerie, isn't it?

What pieces did you play at the Festival - I think I recall you mentioning the Sonata No. 5 by Beethoven.

Yes, that work was at a later date in the Open Class, all ages. I can't remember the exact pieces, I know I played a solo, then in the afternoon a piano duet. I believe both were recorded by a 78rpm-recording machine hired from Manchester: I still have a copy of the 10-inch disc.

How well did you do? Did you win any awards or commendations this time?

I seem to remember coming third in the morning and second in the afternoon. Someone said 'He'll be a composer, they often come second or third in the performing classes'.

Did CAG play the piano at the Festival? If so, can you recall anything about his playing?

Yes, he demonstrated parts of pieces to each of us and in the open class performed a movement of a Sonata to an elderly man who looked bored and uncomfortable, as if he thought he knew best. On the other hand Armstrong Gibbs' playing was extremely musical, with great feeling. He sat at the grand piano very relaxed, with straight back and slightly sideways. I noticed ten years later that this was how the song composer Michael Head (who had become my friend by then) and was eleven years younger than Gibbs, would sit when playing, often providing his own silk cushion for comfort. Both of them frequently looked round at the audience and at the performers.

How did CAG strike you - was he a severe-looking gentleman - bearing in mind he was nearly sixty at the time?

Not severe at all: he was relaxed, kindly and smiling. You could tell how experienced he was as an examiner and adjudicator. He used terms such as 'my boy' quite often. He was never fussy but in complete control. His humour came from the musical situation, and was never forced or artificial. He was not in any way a showman like later adjudicators were. Armstrong Gibbs knew why he was there, taking the musical and educational side very seriously indeed. He was a professional to his fingertips. The viola player Bernard Shore reminded me of him in many ways, easy to talk to, never brusque, ready to advise the younger person when asked. Before we leave the subject of the Festival, it's interesting to note that this year, 2003, is the Pontefract and District Music Festival's centenary year.

Gibbs' biographer Angela Aries has said that he was a countryman at heart and did not really take to the pizzazz of city life. All the paraphernalia of the rural life appealed to him. Is this how he struck you?

That's absolutely true: he looked out of place examining. That's why I thought he was up for the races or golf or even hunting. He was like a country squire. When anyone called me squire later on, such as a bank manager, I always thought of him.

Did CAG speak to you at this time or make any comments on your musicianship?

Yes, he was very encouraging. I remember if it was a young candidate playing, he would sometimes leave the high central podium and come over, climb the stage and when you neared the end he would be ready to say something encouraging or demonstrate something on the keyboard. (It seemed to me he may have preferred the teacher-pupil relationship best, he was after all a professor at the Royal College). This seemed a new departure from the usual approach. He commended the way a phrase had been played; his criticism was totally without sarcasm, and never severe. One could tell he was an inspired teacher.

Can you recall how he spoke to the other candidates?

He had a different approach to each candidate, according to age and ability. He seemed to like the younger ones best. In the open classes he spoke to the older candidates more critically, avoiding any argument very cleverly. He would go up on stage to accompany singers and instrumentalists if the accompanist was late or away. He spent little time writing reports and was on stage very quickly. I remember he announced with mark sheets flapping in his hand rather formally, 'I will now make my assessments of the candidates'. He spoke slowly and clearly without a regional accent, very much like Sir David Willcocks' diction. There was not a trace of excitement in his voice, just matter-of-factness and professionalism. The Yorkshire audience loves this. No histrionics or razzmatazz here.

After the war he reformed the Danbury Choral Society and renewed his associations with the Festivals Movements. Around the time he visited Pontefract he was heavily involved in preparation of music for the Mother's Union Worldwide Conference of 1948 and planning his input to the Festival of Britain celebrations. Do you remember any of this being mentioned?

I am certain he referred to the Festival of Britain: it was the first I had heard of it and it was quite exciting, something to look out for and perhaps visit. The Mother's Unions were especially strong then, I remember my mother and aunt going to these events and even one my mother went to, to hear" Odette" speak. My mother was quite excited about that meeting and talked of it for weeks. I think we read about the Danbury Choral Society in the Daily Mail, here we also read about the conference. He kept a good rapport with the audience, not so much by telling stories but by explaining the music. I seem to remember him encouraging applause after a good performance.

Why do you think he was invited to Pontefract?

It was the most important Festival after the Mrs Sunderland Festival at Huddersfield which I later adjudicated. So he would visit Pontefract regularly, both as an adjudicator and as an examiner. The musicologist Professor Denis Stevens CBE recently told me that Gibbs visited his own school - The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, Bucks in 1938. Armstrong Gibbs came to examine the boys in music; he was remembered as a cheerful, outgoing, friendly man who was extremely musical and an inspiration to them all. So Denis Stevens and I have this fact in common; Armstrong Gibbs encouraged us both in our formative years, although there is sixteen years' difference in our ages. Armstrong Gibbs was very popular at Pontefract because of his experience and age, also the fact that he was a composer made it something special. The hard-headed Yorkshire men and women always wanted the best, they still do now, but finances come into it more, and they want the TV celebrity more than the academic expert, often someone they themselves can relate to. It was quality first, then personality, and finally, as the young and gifted were involved, kindliness.

Until recently, my only knowledge of Armstrong Gibbs' music was of a few of his solo songs and a couple of organ works.

Actually Gibbs was very much a 'people's' composer, producing much 'utility music' for amateurs. This fits in well with his dedication to the Festival movement, doesn't it?

I knew the songs and piano works, also some choral works. Like myself he seemed to prefer a cappella writing, often SATB too. Works that I remember are: 'While the Shepherds Were Watching', a carol with words by Benedict Ellis, SATB (1955), 'Now Israel May Say, and That Truly', SATB (c1937), 'The Gift', a choral mime, for narrator, women's chorus, miming troupe, strings and piano, words by Benedict Ellis, and the beautiful 'Anthem for Easter - Most Glorious Lord of Lyfe', words by Edmund Spenser (c1932). Songs include: 'The Ballad of Semmerwater' (Curwen-Elkin), 'Gipsies' (OUP), 'Five Eyes', 'A Song of Shadows', 'The Fields are Full' (all three Boosey & Hawkes), 'Lyonesse' (Elkin), 'The Witch', 'The Splendour Falls', 'Fulfilment', 'The Oxen', 'Titania', 'Tom o'Bedlam', 'The Wanderer', 'Hypochondriacus', 'Philomel', 'The Lamb and the Dove' (all Thames/Elkin). There is incidental music to The Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus composed for Cambridge in 1921, and music for Maeterlinck's The BetrothaI (see the humorous article 'Alarms and excursions', by Armstrong Gibbs on this work's gestation, which appeared in Composer magazine No 16, July 1965, reprinted from the Composers' Guild Bulletin No 18, March 1957). I have also heard on Radio 1 or 2 two finely crafted and tuneful chamber music works. In this way he resembles another highly inspired, tuneful and undervalued composer, Gordon Jacob.

I know that CAG wrote a number of works for the stage - both operas and incidental music. In fact, to a certain extent this is how he made his name. He wrote the music for Crossings, a children's play written especially for Gibbs by Walter de la Mare. Also did you ever come across some of his comic operas - one of them was to a libretto by A.P.Herbert, The Blue Peter, and perhaps the harlequinade Midsummer Madness, by Clifford Bax. In fact this last work had 115 performances before it closed.

I seem to remember some of his music being broadcast on the enterprising Home Service - Childrens' Hour. David Davis, himself a fine pianist, featured much inspired music, usually as signature tune music.

He wrote a 'television' opera, Mr Cornelius, in 1952/3 for performance on the BBC. However it was rejected. This hurt the composer deeply and I believe he did not turn his hand to the medium again. Did this fit in with the BBC's policy to ignore 'conservative' composers at this time?

I am sure it was about this time, following the Festival of Britain year, that things changed, melody was discouraged and communication was no longer a priority at the BBC. The competition between works is very great. What a pity his opera wasn't broadcast on television: it would have been one of the very first new British operas screened. I seem to remember an Arthur Benjamin opera was the first commissioned for television. Both composers died the same year - 1960.

Armstrong Gibbs went to the Lake District during the war, due to his house being requisitioned for the war effort. After the death of his son in Italy he wrote his Westmoreland Symphony, no. 3, which to my mind is one of his finest works. Have you come across it?

Yes, I heard it broadcast about five years ago now. I was very impressed by its English pastoral quality and its length and substantiality: no mean feat to write so expansively. It reminded me in some respects of another work of a similar nature, Alan Bush's Nottingham Symphony, but the Gibbs is more laid back. Perhaps it's the countryman writing alongside the city man. I think the broadcast I heard was from a CD recording on the Marco Polo label, recorded by the National Orchestra of Ireland conducted by Andrew Penny.

However, one of his best known works is in the genre of so-called 'light' music. There was a time when every orchestra at the pier end or on the promenade must have been playing Armstrong Gibbs' Dusk. I have a piano copy of this work and often enjoy its quiet sentimentality. However I think it is sad that many people will know the 'tune' but not the composer.

Yes, I heard it at many resorts such as Lytham St Anne's, Filey, Scarborough, Bridlington, St Ives and Helston. You are right about the light music, this could have added to the neglect of Armstrong Gibbs in recent years. He was a versatile composer, but it's easy to get pigeon-holed in the arts, as elsewhere.

Many critics regard Gibbs' Choral Symphony Odysseus as being his masterpiece. It was written during the war, but had to wait until 1946 for its first performance. Did you ever hear it, or perhaps hear tell of it?

I've certainly been told how fine it is, but can't remember hearing it.

Why do you think that he has been largely ignored as a composer over the years? My own view is that he was a somewhat conservative composer who was somehow running against the spirit of the times.

You are quite right. There is another reason to my mind that it is not one person or one institution to blame for the neglect of composers, but I suspect it goes back a very long way, neither is it fashion - as the latter changes from day to day. No, what composers have suffered over the last 150 years is nothing to do with the above. I would trace it back to Edward Hanslick or even further back to the Schubert period. Look how the composers Delius and Schubert were treated after their deaths. I could name at least two composers who died of AIDS and are neglected now: is this due to a taboo? The history of music is populated with composers who have suffered neglect due to reasons other than their music, which is a shame. Their name and its associations can also play a part. Parry and Stanford are the saddest examples of all, together with George Dyson. Near the end of the 19th century someone noticed a superficial resemblance to Brahms in Stanford's music, and the die was cast. The saddest time was when our own composers were castigated for liking to write melody. The Gibbs generation suffered much from this: John Ireland, Frank Bridge E.J. Moeran, Percy Turnbull, Arthur Somervell, Michael Head, Roger Quilter, Gustav Holst, and Arnold Bax suffered most, with Gibbs, Gordon Jacob, Herbert Howells, Arthur Benjamin, Cyril Scott, and William Lloyd Webber, then later in the last century Gerald Finzi, Alan and Geoffrey Bush, Arnold Cooke, Bernard Stevens, and the film composers Bill Alwyn, Ben Frankel, Malcolm Arnold, Humphrey Searle (a challenging composer if ever there was one) and Wilfred Josephs, at that time all lacking broadcasts because of being successful film composers. The overseas figures too: Paul Hindemith, Honegger, Korngold and Zemlinsky, all suffered neglect for different reasons. In our own time such inspired composers as William Mathias, Tom Eastwood, David Gow, John Joubert, Alun Hoddinot, Kenneth Leighton, Robert Sherlaw Johnson, Elizabeth Maconchy, Anthony Milner and one of the finest, Peter Racine Fricker, spring to mind. Composing simple and utility music was not popular from a concert composer at that time. So Armstrong Gibbs was not a single case, although I have noticed that he does not feature in many reference books.

September 2003

Angela Aries is presently writing a biography of Armstrong Gibbs. I have read a couple of chapters of this in draft form and it promises to be a fascinating story. This coincides with the inauguration of the Armstrong Gibbs Society, which aims to further his musical memory and provide a source of information.

Richard Stoker website

 

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