Biography of Gibbs Cecil Armstrong:
Armstrong Gibbs was born in 1889 at ?The Vineyards,? Great Baddow. Just two years old when his mother died, he was brought up by five maiden aunts, who nurtured his precocious musical talent. He was then sent first to a preparatory school near Hove, and afterwards to Winchester College. From Winchester, Armstrong Gibbs went to Trinity College Cambridge where he read history and music. Realising composition alone would not bring in sufficient income, he decided to take up teaching. While at ?The Wick? school he produced a play for the headmaster?s retirement in 1919, setting to music the fairy play ?Crossings? by Walter de la Mare. The producer of the play, E.J. Dent, brought the young Adrian Boult down to conduct ?Crossings.? He was so impressed with the music that he generously offered to fund Gibbs for a year as a mature student at the Royal College of Music. After a year studying conducting under Boult and composition under Vaughan Williams, Gibbs accepted a part-time teaching post at the college. Soon after moving to Danbury in 1919, Gibbs set up a choral society which then participated in the Essex Musical Association festivals in Chelmsford. The setting of one of his own compositions for a festival class in Bath, led him to become an adjudicator and eventually Vice-President of the National Federation of Music Festivals. As well as conducting the Choral Society in Danbury and singing with the Church Choir, Gibbs played cricket and bowls and lent active support to many local organisations. During the Second World War, Gibbs moved to Windermere, where he continued composing and conducting. On his return to Essex in 1945 he re-formed Danbury Choral Society. Known principally for his solo songs, Gibbs also wrote music for the stage, sacred works, three symphonies and a substantial amount of chamber music. Although he retired from adjudicating, he continued conducting and composing right to the end of his life. He died in Chelmsford on 12 May 1960 and is buried with his wife in Danbury churchyard.