Geoffrey Gilbert (1914-1989)
The London Times (May 22, 1989): "the most influential British flutist of the twentieth century. Flutist with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham. Flutist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Malcolm Sargent. Flutist with the Halle Orchestra directed by Sir Hamilton Harty. English premiere of the concertos of Ibert, Nielsen, Jolivet and Rivier. Teaching appointments at Trinity College, the Guildhall School of Music, & Royal Manchester College of Music.
Gilbert Orchestral Career:
- 1934 to 1935 - Principal Flute; Halle Orchestra (Manchester)
- 1935 to 1939 - Principal Flute; London Philharmonic Orchestra
- 1939 to 1946 - Band of the Coldstream Guards/Military service
- 1946 to 1948 - Principal Flute; London Philharmonic Orchestra
- 1948 to 1969 - Wigmore Chamber Ensemble
- 1948 to 1952 - Principal and Solo Flutist; BBC Symphony
- 1957 to 1963 - Principal Flute; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
(with GEOFFREY GILBERT, flute)
EMI Label (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Haydn Symphony #101
- Haydn Symphony #103
This has been reissued on CD on the EMI Classics for Pleasure label:
- Liszt Faust Symphony
re-issued on Seraphim S-6012
- Rimsky-Korsakoff Scheherazade
re-issued on Angel RL 32027
- Schubert Symphony #3
- Strauss Ein Heldenleben
re-issued on Seraphim S-60041
- Beecham Conducts French Lollipops
Debussy L'Apres Midi
Chabrier March Joyeuse
Debussy Cortege et Air de Danse
The French Lollipops has been re-issued on a CD as part of a Great Conductor's series.
- Brahms Symphony #4
- Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
- Delius' Brigg Fair
Some well known Gilbert students:
Trevor Wye, Susan Milan, Alexander Murray, William Bennett,
Peter Lloyd, Averil Williams, James Galway.
Some Fingering Alternatives Suggested by Mr. Gilbert:
(fingerings taken from my class notes)
- for loud high notes:
G3 - add right hand fingers (lowers pitch)
F#3 - use middle finger F# (lowers pitch)
F3 - add 3rd finger on right hand (lowers pitch)
A3 to F3 - add 3rd finger on right hand (smoother motion)
A3 - add 3rd finger right hand (lowers pitch)
A3 to E3 - remove D# key for E3 (smoother motion)
C#3 - finger D3, add right 2nd and 3rd finger (lowers pitch)
- for soft high notes:
F#3 - add low C# key (brighter & sharper)
C3 - finger F, add right 3rd finger, no thumb (raises pitch)
B2 - finger D1 with no thumb (add low C to get C2)
Bb2 - finger low Eb, use ring only on left 2nd finger
A2 - finger low D, no left 3rd finger
Ab - finger low C#, open G# key
- for quick response:
B3 - finger F#3, add both trill keys & D# key
Bb - finger F#3, add 1st trill key + thumb Bb (no D# key)
Fifty Three Gilbert Comments
The following comments were extracted from my lesson and class notes and should not be taken as direct quotes.
- As air moves slower a low note will result.
- Practice the slow movement of J.S. Bach 'a' minor sonata. Make use of this to play descending intervals for the mysterious sound.
- Use dark sound over MF.
- Don't tune by using dynamics.
- Don't push lips foreword for high notes unless they are soft.
- Don't advertise a breath.
- Use the lips more than the chin for flexibility.
- Practice with no vibrato to hear true sound.
- "Parade of Knowledge" (not a compliment).
- Don't cover up a problem - expose it & fix.
- Look like you are sharing with the audience.
- Soft is short.
- The tongue causes the pitch to rise.
- Don't confuse endings with diminuendos.
- Keep head up to slacken the jaw.
- No change in lips past G3.
- Forte = longer note length. Piano = shorter note length.
- Forte & Piano are different tone colors.
- Try various vowel sounds for throat relaxing.
- Practice effects on abstract works not pieces.
- After a long faded ending due to long phrase begin again at the same strength you left off.
- Vocalize before playing.
- Don't accentuate the obvious.
- Don't learn through pieces.
- Don't edit on the basis of poor technique.
- Tenuto lines - push with blowing & vibrato.
- Use the effect of addition of vibrato to a note sparingly.
- Sound must stay the same when using the tongue.
- High G# needs the correct amount of air to play easily.
- Keep enough breath support to keep tongue moving.
- Top lip too tight will cause a whistle in the sound.
- Open teeth more for fast tongue.
- Every note has a life of it's own.
- Pitch up for G#2 - add bottom hand + C# key.
- A short note is always preceded by a shortened note.
- Use Unfinished Sym. for develpoing tone color.
- Reach for the flute and then bring it to you.
- Players duty is to present what the composer has written - not what you think he has written.
- Lock teeth and move lips to demonstrate flexibility.
- Intonation is 90% knowledge of instrument.
- Look for tension in fingers.
- Rules of music are independent of the instrument.
- Muscles on side of nose can be used to pull up corners of mouth.
- Practice by eliminating that which you don't do well.
- Don't use the cheek muscles to tighten lips.
- Fix one little thing each day.
- Please solve your problems in advance so I can help you more.
- Anger = shaking of voice : Emotion = vibrato.
- Always investigate how the vibrato should be applied to each piece.
- Move tongue more slowly when tonguing between lips on low notes.
- How will a piece affect other people?
- Play on the inside of lips for a mysterious sound.
- Anything that you can't do is important.
Geoffrey Gilbert Memorial Endowment Fund
Florida Flute Association Inc.
The Gilbert Memorial Endowment Fund is perpetuated in celebration of the lives and legacy of Geoffrey Gilbert and his wife, Marjorie. One of the most distinguished British flutists and teachers of flute of the twentieth century, Mr. Gilbert provided a profound and long-lasting influence in many lives and careers through his fifty-year career, including generous participation at numerous fairs of the FFA. Established through the generosity of former students, particularly Sir James Galway, the Fund is perpetuated by individual gifts and Southern Music Co. royalties.
To further the legacy of Geoffrey Gilbert, who never stopped searching for new and better ways to perform and teach, the FFA now administers the Fund, offering Gilbert Study Grants. The Performance Study Grant (odd years) and the Teaching Study Grant (even years) are one-time $1000 awards to accomplished per formers and committed teachers aiming to pursue future study.
Gilbert Study Grant Application (PDF format) - Due by March 15.
Additional information on the Gilbert Memorial Endowment Fund is available from:
Deborah Heller, Scholarships Chair
6016 Harry Rewis Rd.
Macclenny, FL 32063