One of the advantages of insomniac tendencies is being plugged into a radio and hearing new music by accident. In my case, the programme is All Through The Night, where the presenter pretends the show is going out live even though it isn’t. One clue is a complete absence of time checks. Another (rarely) is a mistake going uncorrected on the recording before it goes out.
This morning, while half awake, I heard music by a composer new to me. Her name is Ruth Gipps, which I misheard as Gibbs. She was born on the 20th of February 1921 and died on 23rd of February 1999.
The piece I heard was the second movement of her Horn Concerto Op 58, the soloist being the wonderful David Pyatt with the London Philharmonic. I now have the whole concerto but bought it as a download and consequently have no sleeve note, so I have no idea when she wrote it or who she wrote it for. But I can safely exclude the composer herself since she did not play the horn.
First impressions are that this concerto is a well composed piece and that Gipps is a very able orchestrator who, among other things, makes good use of colour and moves deftly from orchestral tuttis to more lightly scored passages which tickle the ear.
Gipps faced impediments in her life as a composer and conductor, some of them caused by the fact she was a woman. She was also opposed to the overly avant garde, serialism and the like and wasn’t shy of making her views known. Why would she be?
This is a link to an obituary published in The Independent.