Anthony Gilbert obituary


My pal and colleague Anthony Gilbert, who has died aged 88, was a composer of strikingly idiosyncratic and authentic music.

His substantial physique of labor ranges from main commissions such because the Symphony (Cheltenham competition, 1973) or the radio opera The Chakravaka-Chicken (BBC, 1981), to chamber music written for ensembles together with the London Sinfonietta, the Manchester Camerata and the Lindsay Quartet. From Dream Carousels (1988) to Liaison (2021) there have been many profitable collaborations with the conductor Tim Reynish. His music seems on 11 albums on the NMC file label, and is printed by Schott’s and College of York Music Press.

Tony was a key determine in British new music. He was esteemed not solely as a composer however as an inspiring trainer. In 1973 he initiated the composition division of the Royal Northern Faculty of Music in Manchester and remained its director till retirement in 1999. Its present worldwide fame owes a lot to the foundations he laid. He continued to assist RNCM composition college students till a number of weeks earlier than his demise. He additionally taught, within the Eighties, at what’s now the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. A lot of his college students have, of their flip, turn into well-known, together with the composers Simon Holt and Martin Butler, and the composition trainer Alison Cox.

All his life, Tony championed new music. He was enthusiastic about making area for music that was without delay intellectually difficult and emotionally enriching.

From his early days as promotion supervisor at Schott’s he went on to serve on committees for the Worldwide Society for Up to date Music, the ICA, the Society for the Promotion of New Music and North West Arts. His considerably intransigent nature didn’t endear him to the “musical institution”; however he was cherished and admired by all who knew him effectively.

Tony was born in Southfields, south-west London, to Vera (nee Henderson) a kids’s nurse, and Joseph, who labored in a print manufactory. He went to Gunnersbury grammar faculty and from there, having proved a gifted linguist, to review on the Institut Français in London. He had manifested an unusually acute ear since earliest childhood, however although his household had been musical, it was solely as an grownup that he turned decisively in the direction of music and composing. In 1956, aged 22, he started learning music at Morley Faculty, London, working with Anthony Milner after which Alexander Goehr, starting a protracted friendship with the latter.

Having constructed up a physique of compositions throughout the Fifties, Tony had his First Piano Sonata chosen for the 1962 ISCM competition; the piece was premiered that yr by Margaret Kitchin on the Cheltenham competition, and led to a publishing contract with Schott’s. From then on, Tony’s composing profession blossomed. His musical language, harmonically and texturally wealthy, was knowledgeable by his information and love of Indian music whereas remaining indebted to European modernism. Shut friendships with Harrison Birtwistle, Don Banks and David Lumsdaine had been additionally sturdy influences.

Tony was married twice: in 1956 to Mary Hill, with whom he had three kids, and in 1978 to Alison Cox; each marriages led to divorce. Throughout his later years his associate was Raymonde Sassoon. She survives him, as do his kids, Celia, Paul and Leo, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


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