Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Memories of 2012

A look back at some of the musical highlights of 2012 as posted on my Facebook page

January:

Welcomed in 2012 with a performance of Rhapsody in Blue with the last chord of the work being struck on the first stroke of midnight at the beginning of the new year (thanks to friends in Ireland who first persuaded me to do this fun stunt many moons ago).

[Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue, played by Jack Gibbons and transcribed by Gibbons from Gershwin's 1925 piano roll recording]

February:

Finally fulfilled a long held promise to Edward Jablonski to set some of Edna St Vincent Millay's beautiful poems to music

Immerse the dream.
Drench the kiss.
Dip the song in the stream.

[Edna St Vincent Millay, Vassar College 1914,
photo by Arnold Genthe]

March:

Attempting to justify reaching the milestone age of 50 on March 2, I turned down all invitations to celebrate and instead spent a week in self-imposed isolation in order to complete this piece.

[Gibbons: Nocturne in B flat minor, Op.93,
completed 13 March 2012]

April:

With a feeling of spring in the air this piano duet (with its deliberately easier top part for younger piano students) was finished in the early hours of the first day of the month.

[Gibbons: Song Prelude, Op.94, completed 31 March/1 April 2012]

May:

Began a new series of pre-summer concerts ('Halliehurst Classics Piano Series') at Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia which hopefully will become an annual event, the first concert being entitled "Beethoven - troubled genius".

[Beethoven: Moonlight sonata, opening movement, Adagio sostenuto, played by Jack Gibbons, recorded live, Oxford, England, 15 July 2007]

June:

A visit to America's historic triangle (Jamestowne, Williamsburg and Yorktown), as well as Monticello, inspired me to become immersed in American history, find out a little more about the authentic music of that momentous period, and enjoy a rare opportunity to escape the bustle and 'noise pollution' of the 21st century.

[Exploring America's historic triangle: authentic music from the era of America's founding and early history, accompanied by slides and video from Jamestowne, Williamsburg, Yorktown and Monticello.]

July:

A novel way of advertising my 25th annual Oxford Summer Piano Series.

[The Beast with Ten Fingers: trailer for Gibbons' 25th annual Oxford Summer Piano Series, 2012.]

August:

Celebrated Debussy's 150th birthday (and my 50th) on August 22 in a joint Debussy/Gibbons concert during my 25th annual Oxford Summer Piano Series.

[Debussy: Prelude 'La cathédrale engloutie', played by Jack Gibbons, recorded live, Oxford, England, 22 August 2012.]

September:

Performed on Gershwin's birthday, September 26, at the Lincoln Center, Washington DC, on behalf of Davis & Elkins College, including in the concert the world premiere of my transcription of this recently discovered Gershwin performance recorded in 1934.

[Gershwin plays My Cousin in Milwaukee: rare recording, recently discovered and preserved by Peter Mintun, of Gershwin's April 9 1934 'Music by Gershwin' radio broadcast, recorded off the air thanks to jazz harpist Casper Reardon, who appears with Gershwin in this broadcast.]

October:

Discovered this recording of Brahms playing Josef Strauss's Polka-Mazurka 'Die Libelle' ('The Dragonfly'). On 2 December 1889 Brahms recorded two pieces on an Edison cylinder: a short version of his Hungarian Dance no.1 and an extract from Josef Strauss's Polka-Mazurka 'Die Libelle' Op.204. The voices of both Brahms and the engineer, Theo Wangeman, can be heard at the beginning of these remarkable historic recordings (as later documented by the son of Dr Fellinger, at whose Viennese house the recording session took place). The following video contains 4 versions of each piece of music, to help decipher the sound on what are now extremely deteriorated, though remarkable, recordings.

[An audio aid to deciphering the famous 1889 Brahms recordings.]

November:

Just a few days after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy I came across this unpublished recording from my archives of the soprano Ann Mackay singing one of my songs composed in 2002 to words by Christina Rossetti.

[Gibbons: 'Oh What Comes Over The Sea', Op.32, composed in 2002, sung by Ann Mackay, accompanied by the composer, recorded London, November 2003.]

December:

First performance of my new Romance, Op.96, written as a thank you gift for Davis & Elkins College, where I am artist-in-residence. The music in the following video is accompanied by a slide show of beautiful photographs of Derbyshire, England from the excellent blog Uphilldowndale

[Gibbons: Romance, Op.96, composed at the end of November 2012 and first performed by the composer at Davis & Elkins College, West Virginia, USA, on 3 December 2012) .]

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