"Jack Gibbons is
renowned for his skills
as a piano virtuoso.
What is less well
known, perhaps, is
that he is also a
composer of
distinction...
Every
song
[of Gibbons]
was a tour de force,
each
imbued with a
radiant glow."

Oxford Times




JACK GIBBONS biography

 
      "Jack Gibbons is a unique phenomenon in the musical world of today. Thanks to his virtuosic skills Gibbons can hold an audience in thrall. His concert-giving style is equally attractive: before his performances he talks unassumingly but with great authority from the platform, drawing the listeners into a special relationship."

Humphrey Burton, former Head of Music and Arts, BBC and former Artistic Director, Barbican Centre for the Performing Arts, London
 

JACK GIBBONS has been described by the press as "one of England's most exciting young pianists". His performances have been received with tremendous standing ovations in some of the world's greatest concert halls, including New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and London’s Queen Elizabeth and Royal Albert Halls, and his recordings have consistently attracted rave reviews, awards and commendations. He has also recently returned to composition, and as a composer has had very successful all-Gibbons concerts in New York and in the UK.

Born in 1962 Jack Gibbons began performing in public at the age of 10, made his professional solo recital debut playing Liszt’s B minor Sonata at the age of 15, his London debut with an all-Alkan solo recital at 17, and at 20 won the Newport International Pianoforte Competition with a performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales which was described by the jury as "masterly". Two years later he gave a critically acclaimed Queen Elizabeth Hall debut recital at London's South Bank Centre, performing Bach's Goldberg Variations, Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit and Chopin's Funeral March Sonata, which the London Times described as "monumental".


Jack Gibbons with Gershwin's sister Frankie and Edward Jablonski, New York, March 1994 (photos by Diana Sainsbury)
Jack Gibbons with Gershwin's sister Frankie and Edward Jablonski, New York, March 1994 (photos by Diana Sainsbury)
Jack Gibbons with Gershwin's sister Frankie and Edward Jablonski, New York, March 1994 (photos by Diana Sainsbury)

Jack Gibbons with Gershwin's sister Frankie and Edward Jablonski, New York, March 1994

In 1990, after an absence of several years from the music profession, he made a dramatic comeback when he gave the first of what have become annual all-Gershwin programmes to a packed hall and standing ovation at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. His programme featured the world premieres of his meticulous reconstructions of Gershwin's breathtaking improvisations. A year later he was invited to New York to meet members of Gershwin's family, including Gershwin's sister Frances Godowsky. In 1994 he gave his New York and Washington DC debuts to tremendous acclaim, and the following year he made his debut at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, performing the work with which he has become so closely associated – George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the BBC hailing him as "THE Gershwin pianist of our time".

Since then Jack Gibbons has performed frequently in New York, his most recent all-Gershwin recitals at New York's Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall being greeted with standing ovations from packed halls. Jack Gibbons tours regularly around the world (having performed in the USA, UK, France, Holland, Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Africa, Australia, etc.) and performs frequently with major orchestras from the UK and US, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Hallé, English Northern Philharmonia, New Jersey Symphony, etc.

Jack Gibbons' flourishing career was almost cut short in March 2001, when he narrowly cheated death in a horrific car accident. He suffered multiple injuries including fractures to his face, chest and feet, a very badly shattered left arm, and serious internal injuries. His amazing recovery was crowned by return recitals at New York's Carnegie Hall in 2001 and London's Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2002, the press describing his comeback as "miraculous" , "gutsy" , and "triumphant" . Following two more sell-out concerts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in July 2003 and 2004 Jack returns to London's premier recital venue on July 10th 2005 to celebrate 16 years of annual all-Gershwin solo concerts in the UK capital.

Jack Gibbons' recording credits include a Gramophone Award nomination, MRA awards, and numerous special commendations by CD magazines, newspapers, etc.. His award-winning "Authentic George Gershwin" series on ASV features the first modern recordings of over 4˝ hours of original Gershwin material and has been described in the media as "a unique testimony to Gershwin's genius" and by Edward Jablonski, Gershwin’s biographer and long-time friend of the Gershwin family, as "exciting and uncanny, a remarkable recreation of Gershwin’s unique keyboard style". Gibbons' uniquely "high-spirited and historically informed" (New Yorker) Gershwin repertoire is built around his meticulous note-for-note transcriptions by ear of Gershwin's original improvisations, recorded by the composer on 78s, radio broadcasts and piano rolls in the 1920s and 30s.

Jack Gibbons is also well known for his dedication to the music of Frederic Chopin, whose life and work he has carefully researched for more than 15 years and whose music forms a central core of his repertoire. Gibbons has also championed the music of Chopin’s less well known contemporary Charles-Valentin Alkan, the French Jewish pianist and composer whose music influenced a whole new generation of French composers, including Debussy and Ravel. In January 1995 in Oxford and February 1996 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, Jack Gibbons gave the first performances in history of the complete Opus 39 Studies of Alkan in single 3-hour-long concerts. The Times described the London event as "awe-inspiring… not only does he possess both the stamina and a technique prodigious enough to master everything the music requires, but he scrupulously respects Alkan’s own insistence on clarity, precision and control in this most hugely romantic of music". Jack Gibbons has recorded a highly acclaimed two-CD set of Alkan's complete Op.39 Studies (the first ever CD recording of this remarkable work) on ASV. The CD was ASV's top selling boxed set in the States and Gibbons' recording was described by Gramophone as "among the most exhilarating feats of pianism I’ve heard on disc".


Jack Gibbons entertaining school children in Zimbabwe
in
1994

Jack Gibbons is also a very successful broadcaster and educator. His relaxed and communicative performing style translates well into the broadcasting medium (very much a part of his concerts are the short sometimes humorous, sometimes informative anecdotes that he tells to his audience from the concert platform). In celebration of the Gershwin Centenary in 1998 Jack Gibbons was asked to write and present an hour-long feature programme for the BBC entitled "Gershwin in Focus" with Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley as the voice of George Gershwin. Jack Gibbons also enjoys sharing his enthusiasm for music with the younger generation. He has been employed by the British Council on a number of occasions to give lectures and demonstrations to children in countries as far afield as Bahrain and Zimbabwe, and in the States he has given masterclasses and seminars for students and children.
In 1983 Jack Gibbons held talks with sponsors W.H.Smith to discuss his dream of founding an agency to help aspiring young musicians. His dream became reality a few months later with the founding of the Young Concert Artists Trust, in association with W.H. Smith. Jack's idea of the Young Concert Artists Trust (or YCAT as it has become known in the UK) was to establish an agency for young talented musicians that would provide a more permanent start to their careers than 'flash-in-the-pan' competition wins. As testament to Jack's dream YCAT is still going strong today, nearly 20 years after it was begun and has successfully launched the careers of many young musicians.
In addition to his performing career Jack Gibbons is also now becoming known as a composer. This side of his career began unexpectantly when he returned to composition while recovering from his life-threatening car accident in 2001. As a child he had begun composing at the age of 9. By the age of 13 he had written and fully orchestrated a three movement piano concerto and at 14 was awarded a special composition prize by the British composer Sir Lennox Berkeley. Since then his performing career prevented him from pursuing his own writing. Then in 2001, while recovering from his injuries, Gibbons began writing songs (including settings of poems by Christina Rossetti, Emily Brontë and others). He has since had his music performed with great success in New York (in a concert consisting entirely of his own work) as well as in the UK and on the BBC.

Back to Top